This file started out with three layers: a white background layer, this line of text, and the sunset layer. Text layers will always start out on a transparent background. (Note the gray checkerboard background.)
I opened this file, copied it to the clipboard and pasted it into the working document with the text. This will automatically create a new layer.
This screen grab shows the three layers used to begin this project. To clip the sky into the text, simply Alt-Click (OptionClick on a Mac) on the line separating the two layers. A down arrow will temporarily appear.
This shows the clipped sky inside the text.
Once clipped, the thumbnail in the Layers tab is indented slightly and now includes a small down arrow to show the layer is clipped to the layer below it.
I used the Move tool (hold down V and use the arrow keys) to nudge the sky layer around to tastes. You can modify the sky layer as needed, such as enlarge, reduce, rotate and so forth.
For many purposes, the previous step might be the finished piece, but you can always add some simple Layer Effects by clicking fx icon at the bottom of the Layer Tab. In this case, I clicked the fx on the text layer and added half a dozen effects.
This screen grab shows the various Layer Effects I applied to this example. I tried a texture layer, but didn’t need it. I could turn it back on by clicking the eye icon next to the effect.
The original white background layer was changed to deep plum by selecting it (Control-A), and then filling with a color from the color swatches.
The original text layer is fully editable, so I changed to original style to a LHF Yuma from and changed the size to fit the panel. If necessary, I can reactivate the sunset layer and move it around to tastes.
This is an example image from one of my old clipart collections. I selected the circle area, then clipped a marble layer into it. The steps are the same as described earlier.
Study this screen grab and you can see how I clipped the texture layer into a panel inside a more complicated image. An image like this could have half a dozen textures clipped into the various shapes and lettering. Notice, too, that I added a Bevel and Emboss Layer Effect to the circular panel.

Getting the most from Photoshop’s Clipping Masks

By Mike Jackson

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Photoshop has about a gazillion tools and features, but a few powerful ones jump off the page that could help many sign designers. Clipping masks is one of them. Try it a few times and you’ll probably use it regularly.

The term “clipping mask” might sound complicated, but actually the steps to using them are very fast, easy and powerful. To be specific, once two layers are in place, it takes only one click! And it takes only one click to reverse the effect. I’ll show the basic few steps first, then a few extra features to show how powerful and flexible the steps can be.

Typically, one image layer or texture layer is “clipped” into the boundaries of an object on an underlying layer. The object layer reveals areas inside its visible area and hides everything else. The object layer can be a single element, multiple elements or even editable text.

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Mike Jackson

Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Era Studios in Jackson, Wyoming, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is His email address is You can see more of Mike’s photos at and