If you are just getting into graphic design, creating rich images with exciting dimensions and details can seem daunting. However, there are plenty of tricks and convenient tools that can help you add depth to your compositions. One of the most useful tools that Photoshop provides is the Clipping Mask. Clipping Masks allow you to “wrap” one layer with the details from another layer. You can add textures to objects, cut words out of a page and even weave layers together. Here are six easy steps to help you start using Clipping Masks:
Open a new Photoshop document and type a brief word or phrase. It’s best to use a thick-character font so that the texture we will apply can really show through. The font can be changed at any point during this process so don’t worry about picking the perfect font just yet.
With your text layer selected (notice the highlighted layer at the lower right-hand corner of the screen) go to “File” > “Place.”
Select an image you wish to use. Large, high-resolution “texture” type images work very well for this application. When you find the file you want, click “Place.”
After clicking “Place,” the texture will load over your text layer. Resize and/or reposition your texture image to make sure it completely covers your text. When you are satisfied with the positioning, click the check-mark icon at the top right of the screen to accept the changes.
Go to the Layer menu and click “Create Clipping Mask” or use the quick command “Alt+Ctrl+G”
Inspect the results. You’ll notice that the texture layer icon has an arrow pointing to the text layer to indicate that it is a clipping mask. This effect can be removed at any time by going to Layer > Release Clipping Mask. The text and font can still been changed. The texture layer can be re-positioned as well. The result is a highly flexible edit that really adds a lot of dimension and interest to your images. Clipping masks can also be applied to objects as well allowing you to add textures to every part of the composition.
With the help of clipping masks and interesting textures, your images can gain a lot of character and depth. Get creative and try it out for your next design project!