How to Create a Clipping Mask in Photoshop


Creating a clipping mask in photoshop is a great way  to save time and create neat effects, but it can get a bit tricky.  I’ve found myself clicking all over the place in an attempt to get masks to work.  To streamline the process I’ve created this photoshop tutorial as an introduction to masking.

What is a clipping mask?

Clip masking is when objects on one layer are set to hide (or reveal) objects on another layer.  You can think of a mask like a sheet of paper that you used an X-Acto blade on to cut out a shape.  You then can use that X-acto’d sheet of paper (the mask) to reveal portions of anything you’re looking at.


While the above analogy might help illustrate the concept of a clipping mask, they’re actually more dynamic than that.  In fact, clipping masks in photoshop can be set to have transparency so that a percentage of the mask can be revealed.

How to make a clipping mask

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do to create the shape you wish to mask with.  We created some vector text using the horizontal type tool.
    horizontal type tool
  2. Next you’ll need to import the image you want to clip.  You can do this by opening your image in photoshop, hitting ctrl+a to select all, ctrl+c to copy, and then going to your working file tab and hitting ctrl+v to paste.
  3. After pasting you’ll have a new layer. Make sure that your image is ordered above the text (or shape) layer.clipping mask layer order
  4. With the image layer selected, go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask.  Alternatively, you can use ctrl+alt+g as a shortcut.  If you plan on having a bunch of images to shape, the shortcut will save you a ton of time.  Make sure to use it! create clipping mask
  5. Now your image has been clipped to your shape and you can manipulate the image layer or shape layer independently!  Trust me, being able to edit these after the first draft of your design will be a huge lifesaver in the long run.  One thing I’ve learned is that things are rarely right on the first time.   Pay yourself forward.clipped text in photoshop


How you can use clipping masks when designing?

  • As shown in this photoshop tutorial, layer masks are great for creating images shaped into text
  • When you want images formed into any shape, this is a great method to use.  It will allow you to keep everything fluid and editable.
  • If you want to create a nice sharp edge to merge two photos together, this is one way to do that.

What other ways can you think of using clipping masks?  Leave a comment below!



  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

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  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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