This article was written in 2009 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more about Photoshop, you may find this recent article on getting started with Photoshop of great interest.
A clipping mask is created in Photoshop when you use the content of one layer to mask the layers above it. You are basically clipping around the artwork to fit to the shape of the object on the layer. In this tutorial, we’re going to use some text as a clipping mask and the image from another layer will appear through those letters. This is a popular effect both on the web and in graphic design.
1. In Photoshop, open up an image that you want to use. I’m using a snowy scene. (Note the screengrabs here are from Photoshop CS2, but you can do this with versions of Photoshop 7 (possibly before) onwards.)
2. Select the Horizontal Type Tool and choose the font properties you want on the tool options bar. Below you can see the options I chose.
Font Family – pussycat, Size 250 (you will need to type this into the Size field and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac)), Text aligned Centre and Anti-aliasing set to Strong.
3. Click on the document window and type the word Snowfall.
Use the Move Tool, to centre the word in the middle of the image.
4. Click on the background layer in the Layers Palette to select it and then click on the Create A New Layer button.
A new empty layer will appear in the Layers Palette.
5. Using the Paint Bucket tool, fill the new layer with white.
You now need to rearrange the stacking order of the layers to create your clipping mask. At the moment the background layer is locked.
6. Double-click anywhere on the background layer to open up the New Layer dialog box. Rename the layer as Trees and click OK.
7. Click on the Trees layer in the Layers Palette and drag it to the top of the layers so that Trees are hiding the words Snowfall.
8. Click on the Layers Palette menu (the little triangle in the upper right corner) and choose Create Clipping Mask.
The clipping mask, kicks into action and you will see the letters forming the word Snowfall are filled with the image of the snowy trees.
The nice thing here is that you can move your text around and the image coming through varies.
Adding A Drop Shadow
To complete the image we will add a drop shadow to the text. It adds a little extra impact!
1. Select the Snowfall type layer to make it active, and then click the Add a Layer Style button () at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Drop Shadow from the pop-up menu.
2. In the Layer Style dialog box, change the Opacity to 100%, the angle to 180 and the distance, spread and size to 3.
And that’s it. You can do this with any shape on a layer. It doesn’t have to be text. Hope you find it useful.
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