Confused about masks in Procreate? Learn how to use clipping masks, layer masks and alpha lock and the differences between them.
I absolutely adore the Procreate app. It has taken my hand lettering to the next level. There are many features in the Procreate app and sometimes it gets confusing on when or how to use each feature. Today I’m going to explain 3 features that are game-changers: clipping masks, layer masks and alpha lock. I’ll explain what each tool is and show you how to use each tool.
If you haven’t already checked out my intro to procreate post, you may want to read that one first. The info in this post is a little more advanced so make sure you have a basic understanding of procreate first before you dive into this.
WHAT ARE MASKS?
A mask is a layer that conceals a part of your image. It is a form of non-destructive editing meaning that you can easily reverse the mask and restore the original image. There are two main masks in Procreate: the clipping mask and the layer mask.
HOW TO USE MASKS IN PROCREATE
A clipping mask is a layer that is placed above your original artwork. Any work placed onto a clipping mask layer will be clipped to the layer directly below it. Clipping masks in Procreate work the same way that a clipping mask works in Photoshop.
HOW TO USE A CLIPPING MASK
To use a clipping mask in Procreate, simply create a new layer above your design, add color, texture, or your file of choice to that layer and then select “clipping mask” from the flyout menu. The color, texture or file will be constrained to the layer just below it in the layer panel. I use this method when I want to fill text with a texture, design or even a photo. You can layer multiple clipping masks on top of your original layer and everything will be clipped to the original layer.
In the example below, you can see that the floral design has been clipped to the text layer.
A layer mask is a layer that is used to hide/conceal a portion of your artwork.
HOW TO USE A LAYER MASK
To use a layer mask in Procreate, select the layer your artwork in on and choose “mask” from the flyout menu. This will place a layer mask above your artwork. Next, draw on the layer mask layer with either a white or black brush. Black conceals and white reveals. Choose an appropriate brush size and paint on the layer mask with black to hide pieces of your artwork. If you mess up and hide too much, simply change your brush color to white and paint over it to reveal the artwork again.
In the example below, I used a layer mask on the word “sunshine” to make it look like it is intertwined with the “e” and “l” of the word “hello”. I used a black brush on the layer mask to hide portions of the word “sunshine”.
HOW TO USE ALPHA LOCK IN PROCREATE
What is Alpha Lock?
Alpha lock is a tool that I used to use a lot before I understood clipping and layer masks, however I do not really recommend using it. I’m still going to explain how to use it and then you can decide whether you want to use it in your artwork.
Alpha lock is a quick way to add color or pattern to a portion of your artwork. When you select your layer and choose alpha lock from the flyout menu, you are able to draw on the layer and whatever you draw will be constrained to the layer. However, you are drawing ON the actual layer and not on a separate layer. Because of this, alpha lock is a form of destructive editing. Once you lock your layer and draw on top of it, it can’t be undone without using the “undo” tool. The only way around this is to make a duplicate of your original layer so you always have a copy of your original.
In the example below, I set the text layer to alpha lock and then drew pink stripes on it.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLIPPING MASKS, LAYER MASKS AND ALPHA LOCK
Clipping masks and layer masks are both forms of non-destructive editing which means that you are not destroying/damaging your original piece of artwork during the process. You are simply layering the effects onto your artwork and those layers can be modified without changing your original artwork.
I hope this post has clarified the similarities and differences between clipping masks, layer masks and alpha lock. If you want more Procreate related posts, be sure to check out the list below.
MORE PROCREATE POSTS:
- How to Use Procreate: An Intro
- How to Create Color Palettes in Procreate
- How to Install Brushes in Procreate
- How to Hand Letter in Procreate
- How to Use Hand Lettering Practice Sheets in Procreate
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