Design DIY: Learn How to Create a Clipping Mask in Photoshop and Illustrator

How to create a clipping mask

Today I'll be sharing my first Design DIY post. Woooot, it's about time! My goal for the Design DIY category is to post design tutorials that include using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more, and show you how to complete a design task that could be beneficial to you and your business. 

The Design DIY I'll be teaching you today is how to create a clipping mask using both, Photoshop and Illustrator. I don't want to limit my design tutorials to one specific program since I know some people prefer Photoshop over Illustrator or they can only afford one program so that shouldn't limit your design ability. 

Let's doooo this! 

What is a clipping mask?

A clipping mask is when you take two layers and clip them together to create a mask. For example, if you take a circle shape (the mask) and add it to the bottom layer in Photoshop, the top layer will clip to the circle shape with your image. If you are feeling lost or confused keep on readin', I share video tutorials below and trust me, it's super easy and a handy skill to have. 

Creating a clipping mask in Photoshop

Check out my video tutorial below for instructions on how to create a clipping mask using Photoshop. If you prefer written step-by-step instructions you can find them below. 

1. Open the photo you want to use as your clipping mask.
2. Head over to the shape toolbar and pick whatever shape you want to use; circle, star, rectangle, etc. In this example I use the circle shape. 

How to create a clipping mask


3. Place the shape over the part of the image you want to mask. I brought the transparency down to 50% to better position and make sure I have everything in the circle that I want. 

How to create a clipping mask

4. Once you're happy with the positioning bring the transparency back up to 100% and move the circle shape layer to the bottom. 

How to create a clipping mask

5. Right-click on the top layer that has your image and click, "Create Clipping Mask."

How to create a clipping mask

You should end up with something that looks like this...

How to create a clipping mask

6. Finally, you want to bring both layers together. Select both layers, right click and choose "Merge Layers." This will bring them together as one image. 

How to create a clipping mask

And there you have it! You just created a clipping mask in Photoshop. From there you can go ahead and save your image as a JPG, PNG, or whatever you prefer. 

Check out my tutorial below for creating one in Illustrator. 

Creating a clipping mask in Illustrator

Creating a clipping mask in Illustrator is even simpler! 

1. Bring your image or texture you want to use and place it on the artboard.
2. Head over to the shape toolbar and pick the shape you want to use; circle, star, rectangle, etc. In this example I decided to use the star shape. 

How to create a clipping mask


3. Just like in Photoshop you can lower the transparency to get a better view of the positioning. 

How to create a clipping mask


4. Select both layers, right click, click, "Create Clipping Mask."
 

How to create a clipping mask

6. Save your image.

Yay,  you've created a clipping mask in both, Photoshop and Illustrator. You are now a clipping mask pro in two different programs. 

How to create a clipping mask

 

What can you use a clipping mask for?

The fun doesn't end at images, you can also create clipping masks using typography. Check out my video tutorial below. It's basically the same instructions as the Illustrator tutorial above. 

Clipping masks come in handy for:

  • Blog Graphics
  • Social Media Graphics
  • Newsletter Images
  • Sidebar Graphics
  • Website Graphics
  • Portrait Images 
  • Infographics

and much, much more. 

I hope this post has helped you. If you would like to learn anything from me please leave a comment below.