PS-31 - Keyboard shortcut to add Vector Mask directly to the layer

19 October, 2014

Masking is wonderful when it comes to photoshop. Being able to access the tools quickly is more important and also speed up your workflow. Here's a small tutorial on how to add Vector mask directly to the layer.

This is a small part from the Masking. There is so much to cover in Masking so I'll make separate tutorials or Essentials to cover everything about 'Masking in Photoshop'. This is not that tutorial.


01. If we click the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette, by default the first mask that is added to the selected layer is Layer Mask.

Did you know you can also add the Mask from the layer's menu. Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

(fig 1.0)

02. Clicking the mask icon again will add a Vector Mask to the same layer. The Vector mask will be next to the Layer Mask.

Once you have added two masks, the mask icon will be disabled.

(fig 2.0)

03. You can also add a Vector Mask from the Properties panel.

And also you can add from the layer menu. Go to Layer > Vector Mask > Reveal all

(fig 2.1)

04. Keep in mind that the 'Mask Property' (or mask options) will visible in the properties panel only if you have any one of the mask in the layers palette. If you just select the layer and open the properties panel, it will be empty.

(fig 3.0)

05. If you want to apply Vector Mask without adding layer mask to the layer is to hold the 'Ctrl' on the keyboard and click the mask icon.
This will applies the Vector mask first. You can also go to Layer > Vector Mask > Reveal all.

(To see which mask you have applied, open the properties panel.)

06. Layer mask can be applied to both Normal layer and a Shape layer
Vector mask can only be applied to the Normal layer and not Shape layer

(When working with Shape layer, the layer elements act as a mask by changing the Path Operations from the Shape options tool bar)

Layer/Group Layer Mask Vector Mask
Normal Layer Yes Yes
Shape Layer Yes N/A
Smart Object Yes Yes
Group Yes Yes

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