How to use Clipping Masks in Procreate

There were several impressive feature additions included with the recent update for Procreate 4.2 (you can read a summary of those here), but the one we’re going to focus on today is Clipping Masks.

Knowing how to utilise masking is one of those knowledge bombs that once it clicks and you see the power they have, you won’t know how you lived without them! At the end of this demo, you will understand the difference between a clipping mask and a regular mask, and be able to determine which is the best method for your situation.

We’ll first look at masking in a bit more detail, and then the video demo below will show you a Clipping Mask in action.

What is Masking

When talking about layers, you’ll often hear people speak of ‘destructive’ and ‘non-destructive’ techniques. ‘Destructive’ refers to alterations that make permanent changes (ie. like erasing directly on a layer). This then means that (other than using your ‘undo’ option) you can not reinstate anything back.

‘Non-destructive’ on the other hand, means you can edit continuously. By erasing parts of the layer using a mask, you can always reveal it again later should you need to. Nothing is permanently taken away.

This is definitely a more flexible way of working, giving you the freedom to change and refine the design without problem.

The Difference Between Clipping Masks and Layer Masks

Ok, so that’s masking in general, but what is the difference between clipping masks and regular layer masks?

Procreate’s definition in the opening ‘What’s New in 4.2’ animation sums it up nicely : ‘Clipping Masks let you clip multiple layers to the content of one layer, allowing for powerful non-destructive alterations’

Regular masking only allows you to attach a mask to one single layer. With Clipping Masks, you can have several layers masked by the one shape.  

Another key difference is that you can see the mask itself. In Layer masks, the form of the mask is only visible where it overlaps with the contents of the layer it is applied to. If the layer contents don’t fill the canvas and there are areas of the mask are that don’t have anything under it, those parts of the mask won’t show.

Clipping masks on the other hand, use the a layer itself to define the shape of the mask, meaning the mask is visible. This also means you are not restricted to using black and white, it can be any colour.

Watch a Video Demo of Clipping Masks in Procreate 4.2

Click here to see the paint textures featured in the demo.

Key Points to Remember when using Clipping Masks:

  • You can add multiple layers to the one Clipping Mask
  • You are not restricted to black and white. The Mask Layer can be any colour
  • The layer defining the shape of the mask will be visible
  • The layers that will be ‘clipped’ need to be *above* the mask layer
  • You can alter the mask layer
  • You need at least one other layer before you see the option to create ‘Clipping Mask’ from the layer options menu drop down 

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