Category Archives: Web Design Tutorials

How to Use Clipping Masks in Photoshop

Learning how to us clipping masks only takes a few minutes and it will be a skill you’ll use again and again.  When you create a clipping mask in one layer, it hides the contents of the layers above.  Your clipping mask can be whatever you like; it could be a shape or text.  I’m using text in this example and here’s what we’re going to achieve:

First thing you need is your background image.  In your finished product this is the image that will ‘shine through’ your text.  I’m using a tropical beach scene.


Next, create a new text layer and write the text that will form the object for the clipping mask.  It’s always a good idea to use a fat, bold font when creating clipping masks from text so you can really see the image behind.  I’m using a great, 100%-free font called Bevan (you can download it here for free:


Now we need to create the ‘mask’ layer.  Go to you your Layers Palette and click the “Create a New Layer” button.  You need to fill this layer with a solid color.  I chose white but you can choose any colour.


We now have the three layers we need to start the magic!  Go to your Layers Palette again and put your layers in this order:

  1. the beach image
  2. the text
  3. the new, blank layer

Your Layers Palette should look like this:


Now we need to Create a new Clipping Mask.  Make sure you’ve selected the beach photograph layer, then click on the Layers Palette menu button in the top-right of the Layers Palette Window.  Select “Create Clipping Mask”.  Alternatively, you can press ALT + CTRL + G.


Ta-da! It’s as easy as that!  Your clipping mask has magically appeared.


You can now make the final adjustments to the text to make it stand out.  I’m going to add a 3px stroke to the inside of the text.  Double-click on the text layer to bring up the Styles Palette and add a 3px Stroke:


That’s it, you’re done!  Here’s the finished product:


I guess the question that you are all wondering though is where can I use this skill? Well, there are a number of different places that creating beautiful text can assist you. These include:

  • Creating bold and noticeable headlines for pamphlets or leaflets that you plan to deliver.
  • Making a website really stand out from the rest with an attractive and professional design.
  • Using them in emails, so that people are immediately drawn to the design and don’t simply disregard the message as spam or yet another offer for them.
  • Making attractive cards or other handicrafts, either for sale or to send to someone on their birthday or at Christmas.

As can be seen, the use of this technique is only hampered by your own creativity. So, be original and get experimenting – the results can be totally spectacular!

Remove Some Tedium with the Photoshop Actions Panel

Here’s the first of our guest tutorials, starting with a rundown of the Photoshop Actions Panel with Jamie:

Using the Photoshop Actions Panel

Ever found yourself needing to carry out the same repetitive, mundane tasks on lots of different images?  For example, you might have a whole bunch of images that need to be resized before various colour adjustments need to be made.  Doing this for each image individually can take an age.  The Photoshop Actions Panel allows you to record and save these commands enabling you to process a large batch of images in seconds.

Find your way around the Actions Panel

If the Actions Panel is not visible, open it up (Windows > Actions or press ALT + F9).  Let’s familiarise ourselves with the panel.

  1. Action Set (This is like a folder, where you can store similar Actions in groups.)
  2. Action.  In this example, you can see some default Actions that are preinstalled with Photoshop.
  3. Recorded Commands. These are the different steps that make up your Action.
  4. Modal Control.  When some commands are run, a dialog box will pop up.  You can choose to toggle dialogs on or off for your Actions.  Turning off dialogs will mean your Action will use the value for the command that were set when the Action was recorded.
  5. Included Command. You can deselect or select a command from an Action, choosing whether or not it is performed.  If the checkbox is empty, that command will be skipped when the Action is run.
  6. Stop button.  Hitting the Stop button stops Action recording or stops an Action while it is running.
  7. Record button. This button starts recording of a new Action.  You can also append new commands to an existing Action by selecting a pre-existing Action.
  8. Play button.  Pressing play whilst an Action is selected will perform each command in the Action in turn.  If a command is selected within an Action, the playback will continue from that point onwards.
  9. Create New Action Set. A new Set will be created.  You’ll need to give your new Set a name.
  10. Create New Action. This will create a new Action.  You can colour code your Actions and even set up a keyboard shortcut for later use.
  11. Delete button. This deletes the selected Action Set, Action or Command. If you delete an Action from your Actions Panel, this cannot be undone!

Creating a new Action

Now you know your way around, let’s try using the Actions panel using a photograph.  We’re going to do several things:


  1. Sharpen the photograph
  2. Add a warming Photo Filter
  3. Resize the image
  4. Save it for web


So go ahead and open your image.  I’m using a photo of Dr. House:

Create a new Action Set by clicking on the Create New Action Set Button.  You’ll be asked to give the new Set a name.  Pick something descriptive.  Remember the Action Set is like a folder where you can store lots of different Actions.

Once the Action Set is created, hit the Create Action button to begin creating your Action.  Again, you’ll get a popup asking you to name your new Action, plus a few options.

Name your new Action.  It can be whatever you like, but I find it helps to be descriptive to jolt my memory when I see it again in the future.  You can also set up a keyboard shortcut at this point.  If you want to do this, simply select the key you’d like to use from the dropdown marked Function Key.  If you want to colour code your Actions to keep them organised, select a colour from the list.  Once you’re ready, hit record – this is where the magic starts!


You’ll notice the Record button is red, meaning that you are now recording.  Every command you run will be saved as a step within your new Action.

So, let’s start applying some changes to our photograph.  Firstly, sharpen your image: Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen.

Notice how this command has been added to your Action Set.

Now run through the other tasks:

Add Warming Photo Filter: Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter… Select Warming Filter (85) and leave Density at 25.

Resize the image: Image > Image Size… Reduce the image to 80%

Finally, let’s save the image.  File > Save for Web & Devices… save your file into the desired location.


Now you’ll see you have four commands under your new Action.  Hit the Stop button to stop the recording.

That’s it! You have now finished recording your first Action.


To run this Action on other photographs, simply open a new image, highlight your Action and hit play.

If you know how to do something in Photoshop, chances are you’ll be able to add it as a step in an Action.  Play around with the Actions Panel and you’ll soon find it’s one of the most useful tools in Photoshop.