How to Manage Vector Masks in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Vector masks allow you to create smooth-edged shapes in Adobe Photoshop CS6. Here are a few vector mask tips. You can perform the following tasks:

  • Edit a vector mask path. Use the pen tools and the Direct Selection tool.

  • Add multiple shapes or paths to the existing vector mask. All you need to do is select your vector mask thumbnail in the Layers panel and drag another shape with any of the shape tools. Or add another path with the Pen tool. You can also add, delete, and intersect shapes and paths using the Path Operations commands—Combine, Subtract, Intersect, and Exclude — in the Options bar.

  • Remove a vector mask from a layer. Drag the thumbnail to the trash can icon in the Layers panel or choose Layer→Vector Mask→Delete. You can also click the Delete (trash can) icon in the Masks panel.

  • Disable (temporarily hide) or enable a vector mask. Shift-click the vector mask thumbnail or choose Layer→Vector Mask→Disable (or Enable). You can also click the Disable/Enable Mask icon in the Masks panel.

  • Rasterize a vector mask. Rasterizing (or turning the mask into a pixel-based image) converts the vector mask into a layer mask. Choose Layer→Rasterize→Vector Mask.

  • Apply layer styles to vector shapes. This is a quick-and-easy way to create buttons for a web page or a custom logo. Just select the layer, not the vector mask, and choose Layer→Layer Style. Select your style of choice.