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Photomontage >

5.7 – Using Photoshop Elements >

Clipping Masks

1 – Mac Students

When you see Ctrl in the tutorial, use the Cmd key instead.

2 – Download

You can download the photographs used below.


Dolphin Silhouette by

Sarasota Sunset - Siesta Key by John Simpson

3 – Overview

There are three layers.

Note the clipping-mask icon in the red layer.

The red layer is clipped to the Transparent layer.


No Pixels = Blocked Layer

You expect to see red in the work area.

After all, the red layer is on top of the layers stack.

Instead, you see black.

Because the red layer is clipped to a transparent layer—no pixels—the red layer is blocked.


Add Some Pixels to Reveal the Layer

If you put some pixels into the Transparent layer—such as a dolphin silhouette—the red layer is revealed.

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The silhouette of the dolphin was created by


In the previous section, Layer Masks, gray scale was used to reveal and block: black, white, and shades of gray.

Clipping masks, instead, use the presence and absence of pixels.

In the above example:

• Where there are dolphin pixels—red is revealed.

• Where there no pixels—red is blocked.

4 – Create a Clipping Mask

Do the following.

Create a Blank File

1) Go to File > New > Blank File.

2) In the New window, change the width and height to pixels, if you see Inches.

Then, do the following.

a) Enter 6,000 for the Width.

b) Enter 4,000 for the height.

c) Select White in the Background Contents menu, if it isn't already.

d) Click OK.



3) Save the file.

Do the following.

a) Press Ctrl + s.

b) Enter sunset_with_dolphin as the name for the file.

c) Click Save.

The photograph is saved as a Photoshop file.

Periodically press Ctrl + s to save your work.

Open the Dolphin Photograph

4) Open the dolphin photograph.

Move the Dolphin Photograph

5) Move the dolphin photograph into the new file.

Do the following.

a) Select the Move tool.


b) Click the Photo Bin icon in the lower-left corner of your screen.


c) Click and hold on the dolphin that's in the work area (A).

You must click and hold on the dolphin (circle), not on the checkerboard around it.

d) While still holding, move the cursor to the thumbnail of sunset_with_dolphin file in the Photo Bin (B).

e) Let go of the mouse button.


Open & Move the Sunset Photograph

6) Open and move the sunset photograph into the sunset_with_dolphin file by repeating steps 4) and 5).

Layer 2 is the sunset.

Layer 1 is the dolphin.


Create a Clipping Mask

7) Make sure the sunset layer, Layer 2, is active (darker blue) .

8) At the top of your screen, go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask.


Clipping Icon

The clipping icon appears in the sunset layer, Layer 2.


Sunset Dolphin

A tiny dolphin made out of the sunset appears.


The Move tool is still selected.

Make It Bigger

9) Select the dolphin layer, Layer 1.

10) Click and hold on a tiny box in one of the corners, and drag outward.

Avoid making it bigger than the sunset photograph.

11) Click the green check mark.


Move the Sunset Layer

12) Select the sunset layer, Layer 2.

13) Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, move the sunset into an optimum location inside the dolphin.

Save as a JPEG

14) Save the file as a JPEG.

1) When you're finished, press Ctrl + s to save the file as Photoshop file.

You need to save the file as a JPEG if you're going to e-mail or print it.

Do the following.

2) Go to File > Save As.

3) Open the Save as type menu (1).


4) Select JPEG in the menu (2).

5) Click Save (3).

6) In the JPEG Options window, make sure Quality is at 12.


7) Click OK.

5 – Creating Shapes

Go to Creating Shapes.