How to Use a Clipping Mask in Photoshop

So what is a Clipping Mask?  A Clipping Mask is basically a way to “clip” a photo to make it fit into a particular shape.  It actually does not even need to be a photo or image, it could also be brushes, fonts, or any layer you want to fit into a particular space.

First, we started with a window image with a transparent background and put it on top of a white background.

Then, we made a rectangle the same shape as the opening of the window behind the doors and put the layer under the window layer.

We took a picture of lightning and put it in a layer above the rectangle layer, but below the window layer.

Right-click on the lightning layer to bring up the layer menu.  Click “Create a Clipping Mask”.  This will then clip the lightning to fit into the rectangle layer.

That’s it!  It’s that easy!

How to Feather Edges in Photoshop

Feathering, in Photoshop, is to gradually soften the edges of a photo until it becomes transparent.  In this tutorial, you will learn the basics of feathering.

Choose a picture you would like to feather.  Here, we chose a football field.  You can get the image here if you would like to follow along.

Open the picture in Photoshop.  Now, there are a few ways you can select the area you wish to feather.  You could also use the Rectangular Marquee Tool, Lasso Tool, Polygonal Lasso Tool, or the Magnetic Lasso Tool.  Play around with each one to get the perfect area to feather.  We chose the Elliptical Marquee tool.

Notice that we placed the Marquee in the middle of the picture.  If you chose to use the marquee closer to the edges, you may still get a faint hint of the edge.  Depending on what you are using feathering for, you may not want the edges of the picture to show.

Next, go to the Select —> Modify —> Feather.  The Feather Selection Dialog Box will appear and chose a Feather Radius that best fits the needs of your project.  The higher your radius, the more feathering you will have.  We chose 40px.

Next, click the Move tool, and drag your selection to a new board, or onto another design you want to incorporate the feathered picture into.  That’s it!  We put our feathered image onto a black background, so simple!

Intro to Photoshop Layer Styles

This is a very basic intro to layer styles.

What are Layer Styles?  Simply put, it is a combination of layer effects such as Drop Shadow, Bevel, or stroke.

There are so many different combinations of layer styles, and I only go over a few in this tutorial.  Feel free to play around with each effect as we go to get your own results.

Here is where we start, a plain background with simple text.  Now, let’s get into the fun stuff!

First, we want to give it some depth by putting a drop shadow on the text.  Double click the text layer on the bottom right of your Photoshop screen and the layer style box with pop up.  Click on Drop Shadow, and play with the settings until you get the result you want.  Below are the settings we chose.

Next, we will put a Bevel and Emboss on the text layer.  We chose a Pillow Emboss and softened the edges, but chose the style you like the most!

Next, we want to change the color of the text, but we want to do it from the layer styles dialog box.  We chose the same color as the background, you will see why as the tutorial goes along.


Next, to make the letters pop more, we want to put a stroke on it (or color outline).  We chose a color that really made the text pop off the background, but chose your favorite!

Now that the text layer styles are completed, let’s play with the background a bit.  We chose some brushes to make the background shapes.  If you want to do the same, make sure to put the different brushes and colors into their own layers.  If you do not, you will not be able to put layer styles on them. For the yellow boxes, we wanted them to not be a bold, so in the Blending Options: Custom, we set the Opacity to 76%.    (You can find the drop shadow box brushes here to download and use for the tutorial!  To install the brushes, please refer to our tutorial on Installing and Using Photoshop Brushes!)

We wanted more!  We put an inner shadow on the green boxes.  (We had also put an Outer Glow on the purple boxes prior. Try it on your own!)

To make the orange boxes stand out more, we put a Bevel and Emboss on them and played with the settings until we got the desired effect.

That’s it!  How easy!  Here is our finished product!

Send us a link to your finished product in the comment box below!

Installing and Using Brushes in Photoshop

Here is a simple tutorial to show you how to install and use brushes in Photoshop.  There are so many great free brushes that you can download to amplify your designs!

I found some great cloud brushes from QBrushes, so I will use those in this Tutorial.

First thing you want to do is download the brushes from the website:

Make sure to click the “Open” option, so that you can see the contents of the folder you are downloading. Then click “Ok”.

The folder will open and you will be able to click on the item(s) and right click to copy.

Once you have the brushes copied, go to your “Start” button and right click to find “Explore”.  Scroll down and click on “Program Files” then click “Adobe”.  Find the Photoshop folder of the version you are currently using (i.e Adobe Photoshop CS5) and open it.  Click “Presets” then “Brushes” and paste the cloud brushes you copied earlier into that folder.

To use your Photoshop brushes: Open Photoshop, click the brush icon in your Tools bar on the left side of your screen.  At the top of your Photoshop screen, you will see a drop down menu.  Click the drop down menu, and in the drop down box, click the right arrow (on the top right side of the box) to see the full list of brushes.  Click on the name of the brushes you downloaded, and they are ready to use!

Here are the Photoshop brushes in action!

Congrats!  You now know how to install and use Photoshop brushes!