How to Manage Clipping Masks in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Manage Clipping Masks in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Once you have created a clipping mask with Photoshop CS6, there may be some necessary work needed to finish and manage your project. Here’s some clipping mask trivia:

  • To remove a single layer from the clipping mask, you can simply Alt-click (Option-click on the Mac) the line between the two layers in the Layers panel. Or you can select the layer and choose Layer→Release Clipping Mask. Both commands remove the selected layer and any layers above it from the clipping mask.

  • To ungroup all the layers in the clipping mask, select the clipped layer and choose Layer→Release Clipping Mask.

  • You can also apply clipping masks to adjustment and fill layers. If you clip between a regular layer and an adjustment layer, or a regular layer and a fill layer, the adjustment or fill layer affects only the pixels of the adjacent underlying layer, rather than all the underlying layers.

If you’re at all interested in using words with your images, then now is the time to add them. Adding type can turn a good composite into a dynamite and cohesive image that conveys exactly what you want. Adding layer styles gives you versatility in the kinds of effects that you can apply to layers, so you can apply those to a collage. To add and adjust type, follow these steps:

  1. Open the saved collage file.

    Make sure that the Layers panel is open.

  2. Select the Eyedropper tool from the Tools panel. Click a color in the collage that you like.

    The color you sampled is now the foreground color.

  3. Select the Type tool. On the Options bar, select a font, style, point size, and other formatting options.

    It is recommended you choose an easy-to-read font.

  4. Click inside your image and type some text.

  5. Select the Move tool from the Tools panel and position the type in the collage.

  6. Adjust your settings as you desire.

    If you want to add a second line of text, grab the Type tool again, click the image, and type. You can change the settings, as desired.


When you’re satisfied with the size, style, color, and appearance of the type in your collage, you can make some more enhancements by creating layer styles. Follow these steps:

  1. Add a drop shadow.

    Make sure that you select Use Global Light so that all the layers use the same angle.

    In the Layers panel, select the layer that includes the first line of text. Then, choose Layer→Layer Style→Drop Shadow. Make sure the Drop Shadow box is selected in the left column.

    You can change the angle so that the light source is coming from one direction or another.

  2. Add bevels and embossing.

    Click the Bevel and Emboss style in the left column.

    Make sure that you actually select the style and not just the box; otherwise, the right panel with all the options doesn’t appear.

  3. Click OK when you’re satisfied with the styles you’ve created in the layer so far.


    To get the exact same settings without having to make every adjustment again, right-click (right-click or Control-click on the Mac) the fx icon on the first layer you worked on and select Copy Layer Style from the context menu that appears. Select the second type layer and right-click (right-click or Control-click on the Mac) on the layer name, then select Paste Layer Style from the context menu that appears.

  4. Make any last adjustments and choose File→Save.

  5. Finally, choose File→Save.

    You’re all done. If you feel like it, keep adding to or refining the collage when you figure out new tricks.