How to Use a Clipping Mask in Photoshop


A clipping mask is a special way to merge layers in Photoshop. Understanding how they work is invaluable. Photoshop uses two or more layers to create a clipping mask. Typically, a clipping mask's base layer will contain a text or shape, and the upper layer will be an image. The mask exposes the layers above the base layer. As a result, the upper picture layers appear to show through the text or shape. The mask also hides any part of the picture that is outside the shape on the base layer.

  • Open the file you want to edit with a clipping mask.

  • Go to the "Layers" panel. Click and drag the image layer above the layer with your shape or text.

  • Click on the upper layer to select it.

  • Right-click the layer, and choose "Create Clipping Mask."

Tips & Warnings

  • The two layers that create the clipping mask move independently. This allows you to adjust the portion of the image that is visible through the clipping mask. Link the layers after you fine-tune their positions to prevent accidentally moving them.
  • Right-click the layer with the clipping mask and select "Release Clipping Mask" to remove the mask.
  • Add more layers to the clipping mask by placing them above the base layer and repeating Step 3 and Step 4.

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