was successfully added to your cart.

Photoshop Basics: Layer Mask and Clipping Mask

By March 4, 2014Basics, Tips & Tricks
layer mask and clipping mask in photoshop - featured

Layer Mask and Clipping Mask in Photoshop

Masks are one of Photoshop’s most useful features to control layer’s transparency. We’ll look the differences between layer mask and clipping mask and how they work on a practical level.

A mask controls the behavior of a collection of pixels. Similar to carbon paper, we can control the visibility of pixels in different parts of our image. Wherever a mask is active, a pixel becomes transparent. Where a mask is inactive, a pixel remains opaque. So basically masks can be used to hide or reveal what’s underneath. By using masks we have a precise control over the interaction between layers.

Details and Resources

Resources: Wind Turbines – Moon by Meetu Singhal – Green Grass by Hills22

Layer Mask Example

Let’s suppose that we want to remove the background from our object. Instead of selecting and deleting the pixels, we can use Layer Mask to hide the pixels we don’t want. By this way we can reveal the hidden pixels any time we want but we can’t do the same if we delete the pixels. So, we have a precise control over the pixels.

 

Open the images you want to edit in Photoshop. In my example we will remove the black background from the moon (image a). To create a layer mask for the moon go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. With the layer mask active pick the Brush Tool (B) with black color (#000000) and 95% hardness. Draw over the pixels you want to hide (image b).

 

After we finish the “Moon” layer mask will look like the (image c). If you want to reveal back pixels simply change the color of your brush to white (#ffffff) and draw over the hidden pixels.

 

a) Open the images in Photoshop

layer mask in photoshop - step 1

 

b) Pick the Brush Tool (B) with 95% hardness and black color. Draw over the pixels you want to hide.

layer mask in photoshop - step 2

 

c) Layer Mask after we done.

layer mask in photoshop - step 3

Clipping Mask Example

With Clipping Mask we can mask the image to the opaque pixels of the bottom layers. In other words the shape of the clipping mask can affect multiple layers at the same time.. We can work faster with clipping mask when you want to mask shapes or selections.

 

Let’s suppose that we want to add a  grass texture over our text and shape (image a). Import the grass image and place it over the text and shape layer group (image b). The easiest way to create a clipping mask is to press Alt / Option + Left Click between the grass layer and text and shape layer group (image c).

 

a) Text and Shape

clipping-mask-example---step-1

 

b) Grass texture image.

clipping-mask-example---step-2

 

c) Alt / Option + Left Click to create quickly a clipping mask.

clipping-mask-example---step-3

 

d) Result

clipping-mask-step-5

Conclusion

Both are powerful tools and will make your life much easier in Photoshop. Layer Mask is great for selection, gradients or when you need to hide small objects. With Clipping Mask tool you have more control over the transparency and multiple layers.

384 Backgrounds & Images Bundle

Download 384 high quality backgrounds and images.

Download Now

Author: Dreamstale

We provide free and premium web resources for everyone. Download our graphic design elements, icons, backgrounds, vectors and everything else. Stay tuned for more freebies, Photoshop tutorials and inspirational articles.

Never Miss Freebies & Deals

We promise not to spam you, just the good stuff!
SUBSCRIBE