Clipping Mask Basics
December 12, 2013
I’ve received a few emails about how I created shapes around images of products featured in the Holiday Gift Guide and in some subsequent posts since then. The answer is by use of a basic process of layering shapes and images with the clipping mask option found in Photoshop Elements. (For those that don’t have this software, Adobe is having a sale, you can purchase it for $70 before Dec 28th.)
This doesn’t take any advanced skills just a basic familiarity with the tools in Photoshop Elements. Follow these seven steps and you’ll be on your way to framing any image inside a shape of your choice or creating patterned or textured lettering. Both are helpful for blogging or scrapbooking or card making, or simply for having fun with photo editing or getting creative with fonts.
For demonstration, I’ll use this pretty Cambria Dinnerware image from Pottery Barn. Open the image you wish to frame inside a shape in Photoshop Elements.
1) Double click on the image thumbnail that is visible in the sidebar Layers window to unlock it (it’s automatically named “Background” by PE). Rename it anything, I usually use the default name of “Layer 0”
2) Select the Shapes tool and pick whatever shape you want to use to frame your image, from an ellipse to rounded rectangle to hexagon. In this example I’ll use the ellipse (or oval).
Note there are a lot more shapes you can use with the Custom Shape Tool selections, you’ll find hearts, stars, diamonds, frames, etc. Holding down ALT while you click on the Shapes tool allows you to scroll through the options.
3) Click on the image and drag the shape over the top to create the size of the shape (it can be adjusted later). A new layer and thumbnail will automatically be created.
4) In order for the clipping mask to work, the shape must have a colored fill, but it’s easy to do. Click on the Paintbucket tool, select black, then fill the shape with the black color by clicking on the shape.
5) The last step before applying the clipping mask is to reverse the thumbnail layers in the open Layers window. Click and drag the shape thumbnail down below the image thumbnail so that they are reversed.
6) Once the shape thumbnail is below and the image thumbnail is on top in the Layers window, select “create clipping mask” from the drop down Layers menu in the above navigation bar.
Pat yourself on the back because you’ve just used framed your image inside a shape with a clipping mask!
7) To adjust the size or position of the shape, click on the image thumbnail in the Layers window then click on the Move tool. Nudge the shape back and forth with the arrow keys or drag the image so it’s larger or smaller inside the shape. Clicking on the shape thumbnail below allows you to alter the size of the shape itself.
To preserve the background as transparent, save it as a PNG, if you save it as a JPG the background will be white. Those are the 7 basic steps to framing any image inside a shape using clipping masks.
Simply treat the patterned background as the image mentioned above (open it first in PE) and the font overlay as the shape layer, the steps are the same.
Enjoy framing images inside shapes and creating patterned or textured lettering with this clipping mask technique!