Clipping Masks - Don't Colour Outside the Lines.

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Clipping Masks - Don't Colour Outside the Lines.

In a previous masking tutorial we looked at how to use some of Photoshops masking tools. But now we will look at a new kind of mask, the Clipping Mask.

So let’s start playing with this tool. Here I have a background and a line of text. What I would love is for the background texture to fill only the text area. This can be done with standard masks in just a few clicks, but with two clicks it can be one with clipping masks.

(1st click) Move text under the texture.

(2nd click) Alt/Option click between the layers. Done!

 

Photoshop clipping masks

When you alt click between the layers, photoshop clips the top layer to the one below - effectively cutting our texture to the shape of the text. You can also very easily move the texture just by moving its layer, the clipping mask will update itself.

It doesn’t just work with text, it works with anything. Below is an example of an image clipped to a shape.

 

Photoshop clipping masks

It gets even more useful when you combine this with adjustment layers. You can get an adjustment layer such as black & white to clip to another layer using the same technique - place adjustment layer directly above the layer you want it to effect, and then alt/option click between them. In the example below I flattened the dinosaur layers first. (You can't apply clipping masks to groups)

 

Photoshop clipping masks

You can even use standard masks in combination with this technique. Here I used the mask attached to the adjustment layer to put some of the colour back into the dinosaur in certain areas.

 

Photoshop clipping masks

Photoshop clipping masks

And lastly, the great thing about these masks is they are completely non-destructive meaning you can undo everything very easily, or hide the masks to show people how you made the image. To remove a clipping mask simply alt/option click between the two layers again.