Using image clipping paths to create transparency
Many times you will want to use only part of a Photoshop image when printing it or placing it in another application. For example, you may want to use a foreground object like our logo here to print with the textured background showing, but without the white background in the logo file.
At right you see the typical problem encountered by many. A logo file has been imported into a desktop publishing or word processing file, but the background of the file, which is white, appears to block the textured background.
An image clipping path lets you "clip" out the foreground object and make everything else (the background) transparent -- so, you must use image clipping paths to define transparent areas in images you place in page-layout and many word-processor applications.
Create a clipping mask
On a new layer, create an object that has the exact shape of the object you wish to clip out. In this scenario, it is a simple circle (for demonstration purposes) however, your mask shape must be the exact shape of the visual object you plan to mask. Think in terms of a cookie-cutter.
First, the hard rule is to arrange the layers in the Layers palette so that the layer with the mask is below or 'under' the layers containing image material you want to mask.
Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), position the pointer over the line dividing two layers in the Layers palette (the pointer changes to two overlapping circles ), and click.
You could also select a layer in the Layers palette, and choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask.
You've now generated a "Layer Group" with the clipping mask assigned the opacity and mode attributes of the bottommost layer in the group. It's that simple.
Now you can File > SAVE AS... and select Photoshop EPS file format and name the file. For non-Postscript printers, save the file as TIF. If importing into InDesign, then you don't have to do anything but save as a PSD (Photoshop) file since InDesign imports those with all their layer attributes.
Here, we've placed the logo into the DTP program, using the "Place" command, and as you see, the blue object behind is not blocked by the white border.
For assistance with image clipping paths, choose Help > Export Transparent Image. This interactive wizard helps you prepare images with transparency for export to a page-layout application.
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from the Editor:
I was delighted that day back in 1989 when Peggy Killburn called to ask if I could handle one more speaker in my "Great Graphics Tips & Tricks" session scheduled for the 1990 Macworld Expo. "Yes" was my response to her request to add Russell Brown to my panel. After all, we loved Adobe's young "Illustrator" program, and were quite anxious to try out their upcoming new product called "Photoshop." After seeing his demo, I was convinced Photoshop would be big. So the next month we added "Photoshop Tips & Tricks" to our regular DTG Magazine uploads to Compuserve, GEnie and AOL. The rest is history.
I only regret that I didn't trademark the name.