Tutorial // How to Create Clipping Masks in Photoshop

Tutorial // How to Create Clipping Masks in Photoshop


My friends are always asking me to teach them some tips and tricks in Adobe Photoshop and/or Adobe Illustrator. Most recently, a friend asked about creating shapes and texts with images within them. I am not the greatest teacher around by miles, but I thought I would share a simple tutorial on how to create a clipping mask in Photoshop.

This technique allows you to fill a layer in Photoshop with another layer to create interesting masking effects, e.g. an image showing through text or silhouettes of images within another image. The possiblities are endless; you can get super creative and make numerous effects for your graphics.

You really only need two layers. The bottom layer becomes the masking agent in your Photoshop file.

Please note: I am assuming that you have knowledge of the basic tools of Photoshop such as Type, Move, and Crop. You should also know what are layers and how to use layers, as well as how to open files. If you don’t know these things and would like a beginners guide to Photoshop or Illustrator, do let me know!

Let’s start!

Step 1: Create your text.

clippingmask tutorial-2

Insert what you want to say in the text box!

Tip: Bold and thicker fonts tend to be used by creatives for maximum exposure of the clipped image. However, I decided to use Didot as I was in a crisp and clean mood. 

Step 2: Open up your image file as a new layer, and place it on top of your text. 

clippingmask tutorial-3

Your text should be completely blocked by the image.

Look at the Layers window: your image should be the top-most layer, followed by the text, and then your background layer.

As seen above, my image “garden-12” is on top of my text layer “So, you wanna make a Clipping Mask?”, followed by my “Background” layer.

Step 3: Right-click on the image layer and select “Create Clipping Mask”. 


Refer to my yellow highlighted option!


After you select “Create Clipping Mask”, you’ll see an arrow appear on the clipped image layer (see my red circle?). This illustrates that the selected image layer is clipped to the text layer below it.

And that’s how you create a clipping mask! Easy yes?

Just to be clear, you can create clipping masks on top of any background or even without a background, and there is no limit to how many clipping masks you can use in a document.

clippingmask tutorial-7

This is one on top of a faded photo that I am thinking of using for an Instagram post.

Okay, let’s do it again with an image.

Step 1: Create/open/choose your masking image.Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.55.09 pm

Step 2: Open up the image file you want to clip, and place it on top of the first image layer. 

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.59.41 pm

The order of your layers should be: clipping image, followed by the masking image, and then your background layer.

As seen in my example, my clipping image “FlowerSplash” is on top of my masking image layer “Splash!”, followed by my background layer “I Like White Backgrounds”.

Step 3: Right-click on the image layer and select “Create Clipping Mask”. 


Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.00.12 pm

Note that even though the top image has been clipped, it is still independently transformable. This means you can still move, resize, or make other forms of adjustments to that image layer.

Look at the above and the below screen captures for comparison.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.01.04 pm

I moved the “FlowerSplash” layer to the right to ensure that more of the purple hydrangea flowers can be seen.

Another example!

Step 1: Create your masking layer

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.22.05 pm

I created a new text layer and typed in “Clipping Masks Crazy” with the font, Rock Salt.

Step 2: Open up the clipping image file, and place it on top of the masking layer. 

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.19.39 pm

 Clearly going overboard with flowers.

I knew that I would not be satisfied with the placement of the clipping image, so I moved it to the right before the clipping:

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.22.38 pm

Step 3: Right-click on the image layer and select “Create Clipping Mask”. 


Additional Tip! Step 3b: Link both layers for easy moving/transforming 


Refer to the yellow highlighted option – “Link Layers”.


After selecting that option, you’ll see two links appear on both layers (see my red oval?). This illustrates that the two layers are linked.

Linking your layers allows you to move and transform both layers in unison.

You may also choose to “Merge Layers” which will combine both images permanently into a single layer. Therefore, you should only merge layers when you are certain that you will not be needing to make any changes to the individual layers.


I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful! Do let me know if you have any specific task that you’d want to learn or if you have any questions about Photoshop or Illustrator for future posts!

❤ Jia


3 thoughts on “Tutorial // How to Create Clipping Masks in Photoshop

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