Lesson D: Clipping and Layer Comps – Adobe Photoshop

Lesson D: Clipping and Layer Comps

We’re already to the last few steps!

The Clipping Mask

  • Move the texture layer to the top of the stack in the Layers panel.
  • Set the texture layer’s blend mode to Multiply. Don’t worry, you won’t see the sky through it for long.
  • Highlight the shape layer and restore its Opacity to 100%.
  • Holding down the option/Alt key, click the line between the texture layer and the shape layer to make a clipping mask.

Now the texture is visible only where the shape is. If the shape were any darker, the texture would be too, because of its blend mode of Multiply.

The Other Half

The whole surreal ring is made of two nearly identical pieces. Now it’s time to make the rest.

  • Highlight both the shape and texture layers.
  • Use the shortcut -J/Ctrl-J to very rapidly duplicate both. This will leave the duplicates highlighted, just as we need them to be.
  • Free Transform them both (yes, at the same time) by using ⌘-T/Ctrl-T.
  • Choices: You can rotate the whole affair 180º either by shift-dragging just outside the transform box or by typing “180” in the Rotate field in the Options Bar and pressing Enter.
  • Press Enter to commit the transform.

True, this half is not yet where we need it to be, but let’s make a small refinement that will make positioning easier.

  • Double-click the thumbnail of this new shape layer and set its color to be darker, perhaps a middle gray.
  • Highlight both that shape layer and its texture so you can move both.
  • Use the Move tool to get those layers in position. Zoom in to see better. When the Move tool is active, pressing the arrow keys nudges those layers a pixel at a time, so you can be as accurate as you wish.

We could call this done, but don’t you want to learn that cool layer comp trick?

Create Layer Comps

To create the layer comps, we need to edit the contents of those Smart Objects.

  • Double-click the thumbnail of either texture layer. A new tab appears, and you’ll see those layers we had when we started.
  • Open the Layer Comps panel. Let’s start with all the layers visible.
  • At the bottom of the Layer Comps panel, click the “new” button (). We care only about Visibility, so leave that box checked and no others. Give a name based on what you see.
  • Hide the top layer and create another comp. Repeat for each layer yielding five comps.

Comps as Smart Object Properties

Once that slightly tedious task is done, we can enjoy its fruits.

  • Save the temporary file in which you’ve made those layer comps, then close it. You may see a different texture on your shapes, but don’t worry.
  • Highlight either texture layer and then access the Properties panel. Look for the menu in its center that likely reads “Don’t Apply Layer Comp.” Who are they to tell you what to do?
  • From that menu, choose one of your comps. That texture layer changes. You may set both to be the same, or not, as you wish.

Final Touches

I like the result I get when I apply an Inner Shadow effect to either the darker shape layer or perhaps both shape layers, with the shadow’s Distance set to 0. I would also use a higher Size and Opacity for the darker shape layer.

The image that opens this chapter has one more effect. To allow the chapter’s introductory text to be more legible, I blurred the sky layer. I converted it to a Smart Object, of course, and then applied Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur….

I hope you enjoyed this project as well as the others in this Course. As you can tell, there is much more to this book in the Compendium that follows. It’s there to help you develop skills beyond those attained in the Course. Try to have fun as you learn more. Make silly as well as serious images.