Tutorial: Clipping Masks

This week, I worked with a new kit from Scotty Girl Design called Shipshape. It released in the shop today and it’s on sale!


The bold, bright colors and fun patterns were so much fun to work with. And I love yellow! I think this may have been the quickest turn around for me. I can’t remember a layout coming together this quickly!


When I first started digi scrapping, I didn’t know anything. And I didn’t know anyone who did it. I didn’t know where to go online to get help and the YouTube videos I tried to watch were way over my head – I mean, I didn’t even understand basic how-to videos for beginners. Mostly because I didn’t understand the terminology. So I got thinking about what would have really helped me back then and I knew instantly what this tutorial would be about: Clipping Masks.


I’ll be working in PSE 10.

A clipping mask is the digital equivalent to cutting a piece of paper. Only it’s non destructive. Meaning that if you don’t like the shape or size, you can change it without destroying the paper or starting over. A definite perk of digital scrapbooking!

So here’s the foundation of my layout:


You can see I’ve got my background paper picked out, tape at the bottom, and some splatter. Though I typically don’t add things like splatter to my layout until the very end – just because I don’t really know what it’s going to look like underneath everything until all the paper and “stuff” is actually there.

Now I’ll select the Rectangle Tool, click down on my layout, and draw the shape/size box that I want.



Now let’s clip some paper to the new clipping mask!

I’ve chosen the dark blue sailboat paper. Bring the paper onto your layout, making sure the paper is directly above the layer with the box you just drew (your mask). The paper will cover your whole layout right at first because we haven’t “cut” it yet.


Now all you do at this point is hold down the command key (or control on a PC) and press G. That will clip the paper to the mask. You can see there’s now a little arrow pointing down to the layer it’s clipped to. In PSE 10, you can also unclip a layer by pressing command G. I had PSE 6 before getting 10 and I couldn’t unclip a layer like that. I had to actually grab the clipped layer and either move it to someplace else in the layers palette or delete it altogether. Total pain.


The entire piece of paper is still there, it’s just only showing the part where you’ve put the mask. If you decide later on that you don’t like the shape – maybe you want your paper to be longer or wider or smaller or you want to move it somewhere else entirely – then you can select the mask layer and adjust it – without warping your paper at all. These types of masks are essential for me when creating a layout. In fact, clipping masks make up the bulk of this particular layout.

The next three layers of paper were done using the same process




Now add drop shadows to the mask layers and you’re done!

This is also how I cropped the photos and the triangle pieces on the left side.

Before I learned about clipping masks, I was bringing my paper onto the layout and then trying to resize the whole thing – warping it if necessary so that I could have a shape other than square. HA! I told you I didn’t know a thing! So then I figured out how to use the crop tool, but I found it frustrating when I wanted to make the paper just a teeny bit wider or something. I would have to delete the paper on my layout, go back to the original 12X12 paper, and start again. But with a clipping mask, you can adjust it so easily! You can even grab the paper once it’s been clipped and move it around in the mask until the pattern is showing exactly how you want.

Anyway, I hope this tutorial helps some of you who are just starting out! Happy scrapping!


2 comments on “Tutorial: Clipping Masks

  1. Barbara says:

    Great tutorial Kate! You and I started out just the same. I was so clueless at the beginning and I too knew no one to ask. Clipping masks? I absolutely NO CLUE about them at the beginning and now I can’t imagine scrapping without them!
    It’s nice that you’re putting this out here for people!!

  2. Kassie says:

    Hi Kate! You and your family look like you are doing great! I am not sure if I was invited you to our blog, but I would love to. You can e-mail me your e-mail address and I’ll send you an invite! 🙂 Hope all is well! Kassie Anderson (Nelson)

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