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Chapter 16. Collage > Vector Masks

Vector Masks

Vector Masks allow you to control which area of a layer will be visible, by using an easily editable, smooth-shaped, crisp-edged path. This capability was first added in Photoshop 6.0 and it represented a rather radical shift from what was possible in the past. Before 6.0, everything created in Photoshop was made out of pixels, and the resolution of the file determined how large the pixels would be when printed. If those pixels were large enough, then the image would appear jaggy when printed. But with Vector Masks, you can create a very low resolution (read: jaggy) image and still get a smooth-shaped, crisp-edged transition between the content of a layer and the underlying image.

Adding a Vector Mask

The simplest way to add a Vector Mask is to choose Layer > Add Vector Mask > Reveal All. After you choose that option, the layer that is active will have two thumbnail images in the Layers palette (Figure 16.111). It should look like you just added a Layer Mask, but there will be a vertical line just to the right of the layer thumbnail image to indicate that it's a Vector Mask instead of a Layer Mask. The only difference is that with a Layer Mask, you paint with shades of gray to control which areas of a layer will be hidden or visible, whereas with a Vector Mask, you define the area that will be visible using a path.


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