Clipping Mask and Layer Mask

Masking is one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop. Masks can be used to create very visual effects from combining images to stylizing texts. Down below we will learn about the two types of masks: clipping masks and layer masks.

What is a clipping mask?

Clipping masks allows you to hide portions of an image using multiple layers. It keeps the first layer’s shape, while letting the second layer overlap the original. You can clip multiple layers over the first, each will overlap the previous. Aside from shapes, clipping masks can be also be applied to vector and text objects as well.

So for example, let’s say we want to create a cat image in a circle shape.

Layer 1 is a blue circle image.

Layer 2 is a cat image.

Right click layer 2 and select create clipping mask.

Move layer 2 so it overlaps with layer 1 and you should get something that looks like this.

Tip: You can select both layers and press the chain icon to link layers. This makes it so when you move one of the linked layers, it will move the other as well. Linking layers helps you avoid accidentally misaligning things.

The same thing can be done to text layers.

What is a mask layer?

Layer masks are one of Photoshop’s most useful features. Basically, a layer mask control’s a layer’s transparency. Layer masks use a single mask that is applied to a single image and that allows to hide portions of a layer while exposing other layers positions underneath. This is done through adjusting the layer’s transparency and opacity through a mask.

So for example, we want to hide the background and only have the cat present in the image.

Click add layer mask.

Select the layer mask on the right side of your layer.

Select brush tool and make sure it’s a hard round brush in black 100% opacity.

Paint over the areas you want to hide. Select white to make hidden areas reappear.

The end result should look something like this.

The same thing can be done to text layers.

Thank you to the following staff for working on this guide