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How To Use Clipping Masks in Photoshop

How To Use Clipping Masks in Photoshop

A clipping mask in Photoshop is a group of layers that a mask is applied to. If you’ve ever wondered how to use clipping masks in Photoshop, you’re in luck. This quick and easy guide will walk you through the process step-by-step so you can start creating your own customized photo designs and text boxes like a pro.  

When you apply a clipping mask to your photo, keep in mind that the clipping layer (the one that creates the visible boundaries for the whole group of layers) needs to be on the bottom of the group. Otherwise, it won’t be able to clip the rest of the layers to its shape. 

Create Your Clipping Mask

Once you have selected the shape or design you want to use, follow one of these two options to create your clipping mask:
  • Hold down the Alt button while you place your pointer over the line that divides the layers you’re working on. If you’re using a Mac OS, hold down the Option button. Your pointer will change to two overlapping circles when you hover over the line. When this happens, click your left mouse button. 
  • Go to the Layers panel, click on the top layer of the group you want to create, then select Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

Note: If you’re getting ready to make a clipping mask out of an existing layer plus one you are going to create, you need to select the existing layer first (from the Layers panel). Once you have done that, select New Layer in the Layer menu. When the New Layer dialog box opens, click on Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask. When you’re finished, the layers in your clipping mask will have the mode attributes and opacity of the base layer in your group. 

Remove a Clipping Mask Layer

You can ungroup a layer in your clipping mask by doing the following:
  • Hold down the Alt button while you hover our mouse pointer over the line in the Layers panel that separates two of the layers in your groups. You should see your pointer change to two overlapping circles. Click your left mouse button when this happens. 
  • To remove a specific layer, select the layer you want to remove from the clipping mask in your Layers panel, then click on Layer > Release Clipping Mask. 

Keep in mind that attempting to ungroup the base layer from the one above it will ungroup all other layers in your clipping mask. If you’re looking for images to use in your Photoshop designs, peruse through Shutterstock’s selection of attractive, royalty-free images. 
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