Clipping masks are very useful and can make your pages more appealing and your time more efficient. Photoshop Elements (PSE) does not officially have a clipping mask tool. However, there is a way to get the same basic effect as the clipping tool in the full Photoshop software.
A clipping mask is used when you want to cut the shape of one object into another object. I find that clipping my pictures is more advantageous than cropping, simply because you don’t lose any of your picture. It is still there, just hidden. Therefore, if you decide you want to change the shape of the picture, you can. Clipping masks are also very useful to for making decorative paper strips and circles, picture mats, borders, and a host of other objects. You can even use this method to cut text into paper.
Clipping an object is really quite simple. Simply bring the object that you want to clip in your main working canvas in PSE (we will call this object A). Then click on the “Shape” tool. You can select whatever shape you would like (rounded corner rectangle, rectangle, circle, etc).
Now make the shape that you want to cut the first object to and move it below object A on the canvas. Also, make sure that the shape layer is directly below object A in the Layers Box.
Click on the object A layer to make it the active layer. Press CTRL G. That’s it. You have just “clipped” object A to the shape.
Now you can zoom in or out on object A just like normal (make sure that object A layer is active) and only the portion that is within the shape will be visible. Once you are satisfied, I would recommend linking the object A layer with the shape, so when you move it around the screen they move together. You can also modify the size of the two together (make them larger or smaller) by having them linked. If you wish to modify the size of just one, then make sure that they are not linked, and that you are active only on a single layer.
As always, I hope this tutorial is helpful and please feel free to leave comments and/or subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss out on future tutorials and freebies.