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Using Clipping Masks in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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In this excerpt from Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas show you how to create a clipping mask, release a layer from a clipping mask, and release an entire clipping mask.

When layers are formed into a clipping mask, the content of the bottommost layer, called the “base” layer, clips (limits the display of pixels on) the layers above it. The mode and opacity of the base layer — which can be a type, image, Smart Object, or shape layer — is applied to the clipped layers.

To create a clipping mask

  1. Position the base layer so it is stacked directly below the successive layers to be clipped.
  2. Do one of the following:

    Shift-click the layers to be clipped (not the base layer), then press Ctrl-Alt-G/Cmd-Option-G.AB

    Alt-click/Option-click the line between two layers (the pointer becomes two overlapping circles).

    Right-click a layer to be clipped (not the base layer) and choose Create Clipping Mask.

    The base layer name has an underline; the thumbnail for each clipped layer has a downward-pointing arrow downarrow.jpg and is indented.

  3. Optional: To include more layers in the mask, either repeat the preceding step or restack other layers between existing layers in the mask.CD
    • All the layers to be put in a clipping mask must be listed consecutively. When creating a clipping mask of layers in a group, all the layers (including the base layer) must be part of the group.

Note: When a layer is released from a clipping mask, any masked layers above it are also released.

To release a layer from a clipping mask

  • Do either of the following:
  • Alt-click/Option-click the line below the layer to be released.
  • Click a layer to be released (not the base layer), then press Ctrl-Alt-G/Cmd-Option-G.

To release an entire clipping mask

Alt-click/Option-click the line above the base layer.
  • To merge all the layers in a clipping mask into a base image layer and apply the clipping effect to the result, click the base layer, then press Ctrl-E/Cmd-E.
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