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How to use Vector mask in Photoshop?

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to use vector mask in Photoshop. Many of you may familiar with Layer mask as it is a frequently used feature in Photoshop. Unlike Layer mask, Vector mask uses vector shapes for masking purpose and you can edit or tweak these vector shapes anytime. Let’s learn something more about the working of the vector mask.

Step 1

selecting the images

Here, I have two images on two separate layers, the top one is of flowers and the bottom one is of a waterfall.

Step 2

creating the vector mask

Let’s create a path or a shape then right click anywhere on the canvas and select Create Vector mask option from the pop up menu. Notice, in the current layer, the pixels covered by the shape remain visible but rest of the area become invisible.

Step 3

tweaking the shape

We can easily manipulate the shape by selecting and moving the anchor points with the help of Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 4

adding more shapes to the mask

If we create some more shapes, they will be added to the mask. Make sure you selected the mask before creating any additional shape.

Step 5

We have some more options regarding vector mask under Layer > Vector mask.
vector mask reveal all
Reveal all command creates a vector mask for the selected layer with all the pixels revealed (visible). If we create any shape on the mask then the pixels covered by the shape stay visible and the rest of the area become invisible.
Tip: You can also create a “Reveal all” / revealed vector mask by Ctrl + clicking the Layer mask button present at the bottom of the Layers panel.

vector mask hide all

Hide all just do the inverse of the Reveal all command. It creates a vector mask for the selected layer and hides all the pixels of the selected layer and if we create any shape on the mask then the pixels covered by the shape become visible and the rest of the area will remain invisible.

In the given image, Vector mask completely hides the “Flowers” layer so that the “Waterfall” layer underneath it is visible.
Tip: You can also create a “Hide all” vector mask by Alt + Ctrl + clicking the Layer mask button present at the bottom of the Layers panel.

vector mask current path

Current Path command creates the mask as per the path area (see image).
Delete command deletes the mask. You can also make use of Delete icon present at the bottom of the Layers panel to delete the mask.

disabling the vector mask

You can turn the vector mask ON and OFF by using Disable / Enable command.
Tip: You can also disable / enable the vector mask by simply Shift + clicking the vector mask.

vector mask unlink

Unlink command is used to unlink the layer and the mask so whenever we move the layer, mask doesn’t not move with it. You can also link or unlink the layer mask by simply clicking on the Link icon present between the layer and the mask.

Step 6

rasterizing the mask

You can rasterize the vector mask after finish editing or finalizing the path by right clicking the mask and selecting the Rasterize Vector Mask from the pop-up menu.

Step 7

raserized vector mask

After rasterizing, the mask is no longer a “Vector” mask as it is not using any vector shape to reveal or hide the pixels of the image. We can now use it as Layer mask. That’s all about Vector mask. I Hope you enjoy this tutorial and learned something new from it. See you next time with more tutorials. Good luck. ;)

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