Vector Shapes & Clipping Masks for Video in Photoshop

  • Thread starter Cameron
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May 10, 2021
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Today, I feel like doing a bit of video editing. I’m going to use my previous post, where I discussed using text as a layer mask and apply the same concepts to using vector shapes as layer masks in this one. Nothing in this post will be new, but it sure will be fun. And I’ll be putting together a few different ideas below that have yet to be combined. The result will be a modern looking video that’s both attractive and informative.

In today’s post, I’ll be using a still image as a background in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll then be adding a vector shape as a layer in the project and then a video clip on top of that. I’ll use the vector shape as a clipping mask with the video, which will reveal only a portion of the video itself. I’d like to do this for effect as well as to show the gist of the video. I’ll work through all the necessary steps below.

The Background Photo​

For this post, I’ll be using a background photo, as I mentioned above. The image is of the interior of a Mercedes-Benz. I chose this particular photo because it’s got the steering wheel on one side and the other side is relatively empty. It’s in this empty side that I’ll be placing the video.


Placing a Video Clip into Photoshop​

I wrote an earlier post where I discussed a few different methods for opening video files into Adobe Photoshop.

5 Ways to Open Video Files into Adobe Photoshop

In this post, I described one of the simplest methods for getting a video clip into an existing tab in Photoshop is to click and drag it in from Adobe Bridge. While that’s fine, I think I’ll place the video clip into the file today. It’s almost just as fast and it uses a menu action, which is easier to explain in posts such as the one I’m writing.

To place a video file into an existing tab in Photoshop, I’ll first locate the file in Bridge. Then, I’ll right-click on the thumbnail, roll over the Place menu option and click on In Photoshop.


Doing this will place the clip inside of the active tab as a new layer. It’ll also be in transform mode, so it’s easy to adjust the size of the video before pressing Enter to accept it. In the screenshot below, you can see the transformation bounding box.


Since I would like to keep this video fairly large, I’ll simply press Enter on my keyboard to accept the placement and to remove the transform bounding box.

Adding a Vector Shape​

In Photoshop, we have the ability to create vector shapes. I’ll be covering these type of shapes ad nauseam in later posts, but for now, just know that I’ll be drawing a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool over in the left vertical toolbar.


I’ll draw the rectangle over the right side of the image so the video can eventually be seen playing inside of the rectangle. Even though I can transform things later on, I’d like to get draw the rectangle as close to the shape as I can now.

Here’s what things like like as they stand. I hid the video layer because I want you to see what the shape looks like in the passenger side of the car.


Creating a Clipping Mask for the Video​

Okay, I now have all three pieces of this file in place. I have the layers ordered so the video is on top, the shape is in the middle and the background image is at the bottom in the Layers panel. Take a look.


I also resized the shape so it’s no larger than the video on any side.

To create a clipping mask, meaning the mask I create will only connect two specific layers, I’ll hover my mouse pointer in between the video layer and the shape layer in the Layers panel. Then, I’ll press the Alt (Option on Mac) key on my keyboard. When the mouse pointer turns into a small black arrow and a square, I’ll click my mouse button. That’s all there is to it. The clipping mask will be created.


The result of this mask is that the majority of the video will disappear. Video will only show in the area of the rectangle. Because of this, I’ll need to move the video around somewhat, so the good part appears through this small window.

Repositioning the Video​

Remember, I can move both the shape layer and the video layer anywhere I’d like. All I need to do is to click on the layer in the Layers panel and then use the Move Tool to click and drag. In this case, I’d like the centers of the video layer and the shape layer to be aligned. Since I’m already happy with the position of the rectangle, I’ll click and drag the video to the right.

Actually, to be as precise as possible, I’ll go ahead and select the video layer in the Layers panel by clicking on it. Then, I’ll use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to outline the rectangle with a selection.


Then, I’ll activate the Move Tool in the left vertical toolbar and finally, I’ll head up to the options bar and click on the Align Horizontal Centers button.


Basically, doing this centers the selected layer inside of the selection. I use this method of alignment all the time.

Adjusting the Timelines​

Since each layer’s duration is different down in the Timeline panel, I’ll need to adjust each one of them so they equal the duration of the video. This is easy enough. I’ll simply click and drag the end points of the shape layer and the background layer so they’re lined up with the end of the video layer.


And really, that’s it. If I play the video via the Play button in the Timeline panel, I’ll see the results of my effort. I can export the final project for an MP4 file.

How to Export Video From Adobe Photoshop

And here is the final video after I uploaded it to my YouTube channel.

I hope I clearly explained how to use vector shapes as clipping masks for video in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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Can You Create Vector Shapes in Photoshop?​

I know that many people out there think of Photoshop strictly as a photo editor and I blame the name of the application for that. You know, the “Photo” part of the name. Perhaps it began as merely a photograph editor, but these days, things have changed quite a bit.

If you’ve used Adobe Photoshop over the past few years, you’ll have noticed that it includes quite a few drawing and illustration tools. While the photo editing portions of the application are stronger and more feature-filled than ever before, it’s the vector based tools that are getting people excited.

Now, if you’re thinking that you’ve got any vector based projects covered with Adobe Illustrator, let me tell you that there are some benefits to using Photoshop over Illustrator for drawing and graphics. Both programs allow you to draw all sorts of shapes. That’s a given and a fairly basic task you’d expect apps like this to allow you to complete. Photoshop allows you to draw squares, circles, polygons and a variety of custom shapes that are completely editable. The sky’s the limit. Also, all of these shapes are vector, which means that no matter how much you bend, twist and resize them, they’ll never be reduced in quality.

As far as features go, in Photoshop, you can add borders to a shape and to those borders, you can add dashes, dots and other types of outlines. You can even soften (round) the corners of squares and rectangles. There’s so much flexibility, it’s not even funny.

What’s more exciting is that you can combine paths with shapes to really get creative with what you can create in Photoshop. You can use masks and all sorts of combinations to turn something that’s simple into something that’s complex and vice-versa.

Along those same lines, you can also draw out predefined shapes as well as those custom shapes I mentioned above. Photoshop offers hundreds of these things and yes, they’re all vector based, so they’ll never lose quality, become pixelated or blurry. Vector shapes are awesome.

Best of all, much of the shape world in Photoshop can be integrated and combined with the photo world. Speaking of worlds, it really is the best of both worlds when working with vector shapes as well as photos in Adobe Photoshop.