Learning Paths

Vector masks

In this post we are going to take a look at creating a vector mask. Masks allow you to hide and show parts of an image on a layer. Vector masks are created using a vector shape – a mathematically defines path to control which areas are visible or hidden. Because vectors are used, the mask can be scaled with no loss of quality, and the path can be easily edited to change the mask effect. Vector masks are often used to cut out products/items that have hard edges such as cars, electrical products, toys etc as the mask produces sharp edges. In this post I will show you how we can hide the background  in the image below, so we only see the car.

Creating a vector mask

A vector mask can be created using shape tools or the Pen Tool. As the shape of the car is complex, the Pen Tool would be the best choice. First select the Pen Tool,  and ensure the mode is set to Path (highlighted in blue) – this will create just a path with no fill or stroke.

Next we need to draw a path all the way around the car. Below I have hidden the image of the car so the completed path can be seen easily for illustration purposes.

To use the path as a vector mask, we just need to click the Mask button in the Control panel (highlighted in red below) or go to Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path. If you don’t see the Mask button then reselect the Pen Tool, and it will show.

Because the path was drawn around the car it remains visible, whilst the background is hidden, see below.

With a few tweaks, the image is ready to be used in a composition or an other programs such as Adobe InDesign