Join Seán Duggan for an in-depth discussion in this video Using type to mask a video layer, part of Photoshop: Creative Video Compositing (2014).
Type, logos and other graphics are common elements in some types of video projects. And they can be combined with video footage or stills in very creative ways. One of the simplest ways to apply a mask effect, without actually having to create a mask, is to take advantage of Photoshop's clipping mask feature. So in this file here, I have two layers. I have a, waterfall. And underneath that I have, a river in the highlands of Iceland. And what I want to do is, create a type layer, and mask, the waterfall layer, to the type layer, so that the waterfall, only appears inside the type.
So that's our mission. Let's get to it. First I'm going to just click in here, and type the word water in all caps. I'm using a bold typeface here, so we can have plenty of room inside the letter forms to see, the detail of the water. And let me just add here that, if you do not have, Myriad Pro, typeface installed on your machine, you will not be seeing, this exact same font here. However, the font you use doesn't really matter for this effect. You just need to use a nice, kind of a sans serif bold face font.
Have it be large enough so you can see, the video inside the letter shapes. So the way that, clipping masks, and clipping groups work, is that they rely on, a layer, that's surrounded by transparency. Or, a layer that is masked so that the mask is creating some form of transparency around the layer. And they use that transparency almost as a cookie cutter, to establish the visibility of other layers that are on top of it. So, lets see how this works. As I mentioned before I want to, mask the waterfall layer here, so that it is only showing up inside the type layer.
So first, what I want to do is I want to put the type layer, underneath the waterfall layer. So I'll just move that down there in the Layers Panel. And then, I'm going to make the waterfall layer active. And there's a couple ways we can go about doing this. One, is you can come up to the Layer menu. And you can choose, Create Clipping Mask. Shortcut for that is, Option+Cmd+g, on Mac, or Alt+Ctrl+g on Windows. So that's one way we can do that. The other way is a nice shortcut here in, the Layers Panel.
If you position your cursor, on the border between the two layers, just hold down the Option key on a Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, and you'll see the cursor change to this little icon, showing the, little white square with a downward pointing arrow. If I click there, now the layer is clipped, to the water layer. So the transparency of the water layer, is acting like a cookie cutter, to determine the visibility, of the waterfall video layer. And you can see here, in the main image, that it's only showing up inside, the type.
So that is the basic principle, behind clipping masks, and clipping groups. Now, what just happened there? We lost the waterfall. Well if you look down here in my timeline, you'll see that duration of my type layer, is fairly short. So I need to adjust that. I want to have that, starting at the beginning of the clip, and I want it to be extending throughout this whole clip here. So I'm just going to position my cursor at the end of the clip here. Click and drag to extend that out. Extend it all the way across.
And now, the type layer is going to be visible, throughout the entire, length of the video clip. So the great thing about a clipping mask is that, even though, the layer here, the waterfall video layer, is clipped to the type layer, with the word water, they're both independent of each other. So I can get my move tool. And, let me just click on, the water layer to make it active. I can move that around. Anywhere I want. Anywhere it looks good. Or, I can click on the waterfall video layer, and I can move that around.
Obviously I don't want to move it to far there, but, I do have some latitude and flexibility with how I move it. So there's a lot of, interesting things you can do, with clipping groups and clipping masks. So a clipping group, is when you have more than one layer clipped to another layer. Right now, this is just going to be called a clipping mask because it's just one layer clipped to another. But if I added another one, then I'd have a clipping group. And, apropos that, I am going to add another one. Because, in looking at this, I think that the water's a little bit too dark.
I'd like the water to be a little bit brighter. So what I'm going to do is add a Curves adjustment layer, and lighten up that water. So I'm going to come down to the Adjustment Layer button in the bottom of the Layers Panel. I'm going to, hold down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on Windows and then click that button. And choose Curves. Now, the reason I held down Option or Alt, before I clicked that Adjustment Layer button, was to force this dialog to come up. Because in there is this option, Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask.
And what that will do is cause the, Curves brightening layer to only effect, the waterfall layer. Click OK to that. And I'm just going to, pull up on, this to brighten that water, so it just looks a little bit brighter and the letters, show up better. That looks pretty good. Now, while I'm here, let me show you another, little bit of functionality that relates to clipping masks. You look down here at the bottom of the Layers Panel. On the far left side, there's this icon here.
That is the, Clipping Mask icon. If I click that, I'm going to unclip the layers. So now my Curves layer, is effecting everything. So you can see how the, highland river is becoming much brighter. Now it's effecting, only the waterfall layer. And by the way another couple of clues that you're working with clipping masks and clipping groups is, the layers are indented a little bit here in the Layers Panel. There's a little arrow that points downward. And then the layer that actually determines the shape, of the clipping group, has an underline underneath it.
So these three layers here now form, a clipping group. Alright, let's just reset that. And, hit the Play button. And there is our effect. Clipping masks and clipping groups, are one of the easiest ways that you can use masking functionality in your projects. And they work equally well with both still and video composites. They don't require any special selection skills, and they can be applied with literally the click of a mouse. Once you know how they work, you'll discover all sorts of ways to use them.
- What is video compositing?
- Using layer masks
- Applying movement and transformations with keyframes
- Using Smart Objects to perform nondestructive edits
- Animating a layer mask and layer effects
- Using blend modes to create composites
- Creating custom transitions
- Shooting video for composites