Photoshop Tutorial : Make a Text Clipping Mask

Here’s a new tutorial – all about how to use text as a clipping mask in Photoshop. Many people avoid clipping masks because there is a perception that they are difficult or that you need to be some kind of Photoshop master to use them. As you’ll see in this tutorial there is nothing to be afraid of, they are straightforward and produce great effects.

To briefly explain what’s happening here: You can use the content of one layer to mask the layers above it. The transparent pixels of the bottom or base layer mask the content of layers above it that are part of a clipping mask. The content of the base layer clips or reveals, the content of the layers above it in the clipping mask. It’s like looking through a stencil.

1. Open an image in Photoshop. I’m using a snowy scene, but you can use a picture of anything at all.

2. Select the Horizontal Type Tool and in the tool options bar at the top of the screen, choose a font (heavy, solid fonts work best for clipping), and a fairly large font size.

(I used the following settings: Font Family – pussycat, Size 250, Text aligned Centre and Anti-aliasing set to Strong. )

3. Click on the image in the document window and type some text.

4. Use the Move Tool, to centre the word in the middle of the image or over an area of interest in the image.

5. Click on the background layer in the Layers Palette to select it and then click on the Create A New Layer button.

A new empty layer will appear in the Layers Palette.

6. Using the Paint Bucket tool, fill the new layer with white.

7. You now need to rearrange the stacking order of the layers to create your clipping mask. If your image has a ”background” layer, it will probably be locked.

8. Double-click anywhere on the background layer to open up the New Layer dialog box. Rename the layer and click OK.

9. Click on the layer you have just renamed in the Layers Palette and drag it to the top of the layers so it is hiding the words you’ve typed.

10. With the topmost layer selected, click on the Layers Palette menu (the little triangle in the upper right corner) and choose Create Clipping Mask.

11. The clipping mask, kicks into action and you will see the letters forming the word Snowfall are filled with the image of the snowy trees.

Adding A Drop Shadow

To complete this image add a drop shadow to the text. It adds a little extra impact!

1. Select the type layer to make it active, and then click the Add a Layer Style button () at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Drop Shadow from the pop-up menu.

2. In the Layer Style dialog box, change the Opacity to 100%, the angle to 180 and the distance, spread and size to 3 (or choose whatever options you like best).

The final image should look something like this:


  1. tony Hogan says:

    Hi Jenifer

    The images on this page are not displaying.

    I really like your tutorials, did you write them? I’ve taught Flash for a living for about 8 years now but don’t use it on the web, for obvious reasons.

    I found your site by searching for CMS and The Graphic Design Blog pointed into ypour site I’m looking at using WP instead of learning Joomla

    My other blog is

    Regards Tony

  2. Jennifer Farley says:

    Hi Tony

    Thanks for visiting. Yes, I write the tutorials – teaching photoshop and other design software is my bread and butter.

    I don’t have much experience with Joomla but between it and WP, I think WP is definitely more user friendly.

    I really like your guitar site, you’re posting lots of valuable resources for guitar players (wish I was one!).

    all the best.

  3. Mark says:

    Thank you for letting more people to learn about on how to do clipping of mask. it help us a lot. keep up being generous in sharing your knowledge.

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