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More On Clipping Masks

By Liz Ness  ·  April 7th, 2011

In a recent tutorial, we demonstrated how to create and use clipping masks to develop digital scrapbook layouts from drawings. Today, we take a closer look at how to create clipping masks and use them in your own graphic design projects.

While the possibilities for Clipping Masks are endless, the steps are few. To get started:

  1. Open up images you’d like to use for your project.
  2. If your Project Bin is invisible, double-click the Project Bin tab so that you can see your images and access them at any time.
  3. Open up a new, blank document.
  4. Draw a shape with any shape tool.
  5. From the Project Bin, select and drag-and-drop a photograph to the target document (the new one with the shape).
  6. Select the Move tool (V) and click on a corner of your image to adjust the size of the image so that it is just a bit larger than the shape (please see the following video for more details).
  7. With the photo layer still active, select Layer>Create Clipping Mask.

And, that’s it — at least for the basic steps. The following video demonstrates variations on these instructions and shares a few more details on what’s possible with Clipping Masks.

Problems viewing this video? Try opening it in a new window.


Download this movie

26 Replies to More On Clipping Masks:

  1. Stephen

    April 7, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Dang cool technique that I will certainly use.

    • Liz

      April 7, 2011 at 8:37 am

      AWESOME! And, thanks for your comment Stephen! =)

  2. Mary

    April 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Great use of clipping masks, Liz. I love the window pane look. Like Stephen said, dang cool! Thanks!


    • Liz

      April 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Heh-heh–I’m so glad. Thanks Mary! =)

  3. Howard

    April 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Really nice idea! How can you line up the rectangles (or other shapes) across so that they are identically placed? I’d like to try that with a landscape photo.

    • Liz

      April 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

      I’m thinking that snap to grid would be a good approach for perfect alignment (and that sounds like a good post for next week–thanks for the idea!). =)

    • Christell

      May 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

      When you make a rectangle, duplicate it. Hold down the Shift key & move the duplicate up or down, whichever way you want. This keeps them aligned. Keep duplicating until you have the amount you need.
      Good luck!

  4. Alfred

    April 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Liz,
    ………….thank you for your video and explanations you provided, that have been bugging me . ( as you may know ?) I am a ‘newbie’ though a bit long in the tooth. You promised to further explain your expertise and have done so wonderfully. I think I was flummoxed by the ‘simplify’ thing as well, but as that did not arise in this, I feel free to have a go again, and hopefully accomplish something that I have wanted to succeed at for some time. I appreciate all the trouble you have gone through to clarify your great skills..thank you !
    …p/s you can call me by my ‘southern name’..(.as Al Jolsen used to say.)..”Ben” oh God I think I have given my age away…

  5. Alfred

    April 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Liz,
    …………I just tried again, and this time with success, I just want to say, THANK YOU again, great stuff, perhaps i shall sleep tonight ! ( LOL) thansk…Ben

    • Liz

      April 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      AWESOME Ben!

      I’m so glad and thanks so much for your comments and the wink to the silent film era (one of my favorite classes in college)!

      All the best!

      =) Liz

  6. Tony

    April 12, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I do like this little tutorial, it’s very well done, thanks.

    • Liz

      April 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

      Thank you Tony! =)

  7. Michael

    April 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Neat window pane effect and a great way to have learned about clipping masks. Thanks.

    • Liz

      April 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you Michael! =)

  8. Bill

    April 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for sharing this clever and useful technique. Your explanation was easy to follow. I’ll be experimenting with this for awhile!!

    • Liz

      April 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for your comment Bill! =)

  9. Christell

    May 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Great idea. I love it.

  10. Thea

    May 30, 2011 at 11:21 am


    • Liz

      May 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      You bet, Thea! Thanks for your comment! =)

  11. LISA

    April 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Best tutorial I have seen on clipping mask, it was simplified and easy to understand. Love the video it was done with clarity and great technique. Keep up the great work and look forward to watching every video you post.
    Thanks so much for the help…..

    • Liz

      April 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

      Thanks Lisa!

      =) Liz

  12. Tanjela

    April 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    This was a very useful/helpful tutorial!

    • Liz

      October 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks Tanjela!

      =) Liz

  13. Nicholas

    October 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks Liz,

    I finally understand the possibilities of using clipping masks.
    I will be sure to use them in my next Shutterfly photo book.


    • Liz

      October 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks for your comment Nicholas–I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post!

      =) Liz

  14. Marilyn

    July 31, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I didn’t find this helpful at all. I am using Elements 12 and nothing works. I make my black and white mask, then make the layer mask. I cannot hover over like she shows. I used another tutorial with a “layer mask” and when I use the “ctrl V” – it pastes it in, but in the black & white photo that was used to make the mask, not the mask. All very confusing to me. So many of your tutorials are not for Elements 12. I have used the regular photoshop 12 book and still cannot get it to work!

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