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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
So Photoshop has a wonderful, but a little bit hidden feature called clipping mask, and the idea is that you want an image or a layer to be clipped by another layer, kind of like a cookie cutter, if you will. So the classic example of this is like the travel postcard where it says Aloha and there is an image in every single letterform. So we are going to trying to recreate that effect here, where I have got this image in the Background, and I want it to only show up where there are letters on the type layer up here. Now in order to do this, you have to have a layer that can be moved because the image layer, in order for it to be clipped by the type layer, has to be on top.
So you are clipping the top layer with the layer below it, which means we need to convert the Background layer. Easiest way to do that is to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows and just double-click. That converts it to a non-background layer, which can now be moved. We'll go ahead and move that to the top and then of course there is a keyboard shortcut to do the clipping mask. It's Command+Option+G or Ctrl+Alt+G on Windows and that indents the layer to the right in the Layers panel. It shows you a little arrow pointing down to the layer down below it, and that layer that's being used as the clip gets underlined. So now you can see that image is only appearing where there are letterforms on that type layer. And you can do a clipping mask from one layer to another layer that's not a type layer it doesn't really matter. It's just has to have transparency around it somewhere.
So now that you have got this clipped. If you want to unclip it there is a toggle. So Command+Option+G again or Ctrl+Alt+G will unclip that layer. And then there is also a mouse method of doing it, if you hold down the Option key or the Alt key and put your mouse between the two layers that you want to clip your cursor changes to the clipping mask icon. I'll go ahead and Option or Alt click and it gives the same result as using the keyboard shortcut. Now that this layer is being clipped by the letterforms if I get my Move tool, press V for the Move tool. If I have the image selected I can reposition that image layer, inside the layer that's being used as a clip. If I want to move the type layer separately just go ahead and have that type layer chosen.
Just as a reminder I have talked about Auto-Select Layer before and most of time it does what you want, but every once in a while, it can actually get in your way. So I have got the type layer selected, I'm going to click and start dragging, but you notice that it didn't grab the type layer. It started to move the image layer because I had Auto-Select turned on. So every once in a while you may want to rethink having that on as a permanent default you can always get to it by holding down the Command key or the Ctrl key, when you are in the Move tool to temporarily turn on Auto-Select. Otherwise when it's turned off, it will only move the layer that is selected in the Layers panel.
So now I can move the type separately from the image. And of course if I want to move them both together just hold down the Shift key and select both layers then I can reposition them. So let's go ahead and kind of center this a little bit better. And now I might want to put a white background behind this, so it's not in this transparency checkerboard. So I'll go back to the bottom of the Layers panel. If you hold down the Command key or the Ctrl key and click on the New Layer icon, you get a new layer below the active layer. I'll just use my fill shortcut Command+Delete or Ctrl+ Backspace to fill with my background color, which happens to be white, and then to finish this off, we'll put a little Drop Shadow on the type layer.
We will go down to the bottom of the Layers panel where there is a little fx icon and choose Drop Shadow. And again as a reminder that brings up the Layer Style dialog box. And you can reposition that shadow wherever you want just by clicking in the image itself and dragging that shadow specifically. We'll give this a little bit of softer size here by increasing the Size amount. Click OK and it went off there is our clipping mask effect clipping the top layer into a layer below it. Command+Option+G, Ctrl+Alt+G.
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