Clipping Mask

Do you need to remove the background or cut out the subject from your image? Image editing software such as Photoshop® has tools that can assist in making an automatic clipping path around an image, such as the Magic Wand tool. However, the results are generally poor and will leave jagged edges around the image. Even with the new advanced masking options, it can be difficult to get good results unless your subject is against a plain white background. Free online picture editors won’t create an accurate mask either. At Fake a Photo, we prefer to use our professional photo masking methods to create precise, clean clipping mask results even in cases of images with soft edges and more difficult clipping paths, such as clipping around hair.

Clipping Mask Example

In this case, the client wanted to remove the background from the images in order to use them in a website design. We used the photo masking technique listed below. We were able to accurately clip around the details of the drum kit even where the edges were hard to discern in the dark photo.

Clipping mask

Precise clipping mask around detailed objects.

How to Create a Clipping Mask

Photo masking is not that complicated, but can take some time in some cases. If you would like to create the clipping mask yourself, rather than use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop® or a masking plugin, for better results we recommend using this method, or a similar method using channels:

  1. We will be using two files to create the clipping mask, so first, save a copy of your file.
  2. Open up the copy in Photoshop and convert the image to grayscale.
  3. In most cases, you can adjust the levels to get a high contrast mostly black and white image.
  4. We are creating a silhouette with the object to be clipped in black and the rest of the image in white, so next, use the brush tool to fill in the interior of the object you are clipping with black.
  5. At this point, you should have a solid black silhouette around your image. Load the selection of the layer, create a new layer and fill it with black resulting in a layer of only black.
  6. Open up your original color image and drag over your new black layer.
  7. Change the original image to a layer rather than the background.
  8. Load the selection of the black layer, then create a mask on the original layer.
  9. And that’s it, you should have created a precise clipping mask!