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What is a Clipping Mask?

La máscara de recorte es una herramienta muy útil en el diseño gráfico.

Clipping mask is a concept used in graphic design and image editing that refers to a specific region of an image that has been delimited or“clipped” to show only a portion of that image. This technique allows unwanted or unnecessary parts of an image to be hidden without removing them, making it easier to edit later if necessary.

The use of this tool is very common in image editing and graphic design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. When using a clipping mask, it is important to remember that, unlike erasing, clipping is generally a non-destructive process. This means that the “hidden” information is still present in the file and can be revealed again if the clipping area is adjusted or removed.

Clipping masks can serve different purposes, depending on the context in which they are applied:

  • Photo editing: You can use a clipping mask to focus on a specific part of a photograph, hiding other areas you don’t want to show.
  • Digital design: In vector graphics or web design, the clipping mask can be used to create specific shapes or patterns, showing only a section of a larger image or design.
  • Creating effects: Clipping masks can also be used to apply effects to a specific part of an image, such as gradients, textures or filters, without affecting the entire graphic.

The clipping mask is a basic and very practical tool that every graphic design professional should know and know how to use, as it saves time and makes work easier. We are going to tell you some of the advantages of this fantastic tool, in case you still don’t use it for your designs:

  • Non-destructive editing: One of the most significant advantages of clipping masks is that they are non-destructive. This means that you are not permanently removing or altering the original pixels of the image. If you make a mistake or change your mind, you can simply adjust or remove the mask without affecting the original image.
  • Flexibility: You can easily change the clipping mask at any time, allowing you to experiment with different looks without compromising the integrity of the original image.
  • Image combination: Clipping masks are excellent for combining multiple images or layers in a precise manner, allowing you to overlay images and reveal only the parts you want.
  • Selective effects: You can apply effects, filters or adjustments to specific areas of an image without affecting the entire graphic. For example, you might want to colorize or blur only a section of the image, and the clipping mask allows you to do this in a controlled way.
  • Improves efficiency: Instead of having multiple versions of an image with different crops or edits, you can work with one image and multiple masks. This makes organization easier and reduces project file size.
  • Precise control: With clipping masks, you have granular control over opacity and edges, allowing you to make smooth transitions and fine details in your design.
  • Reuse: If you have a particular clipping mask that works well for one project, you can save it and reuse it in other projects or images, saving time in the design process.
  • Integration with other tools: Masks often integrate well with other tools in design software, such as brushes, gradients and selections, further expanding your editing options.

would you like to know other important concepts? Don’t miss our dictionary for graphic designers where we detail 250 different terms.


With a degree in Psychology and a passion for flamenco guitar and board games, my professional journey has deeply explored the intricate link between human behavior and marketing. Over the years, I've honed my ability to analyze and interpret market trends and consumer responses. At The Color Blog, I blend my psychological insights with my love for writing, providing unique perspectives on marketing, history, and the human interactions that shape our digital age.View Author posts

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