top of page

How to create Clipping Masks in Krita



Assalamualaikum.

I just published a video tutorial on YouTube about how to create Clipping Masks in Krita. I hope this can be helpful.

Kind regards, Widhi Muttaqien (exposeacademy.com)


Video transcript

Assalamualaikum. I am Widhi Muttaqien from Expose Academy. In this video, I’m going to discuss how to create a “Clipping Mask” in Krita. If you found this video through searching, chances are, you already know what “Clipping Mask” is. But, for some of you who just getting started learning graphics, I need to briefly explain what a “Clipping Mask” is. “Clipping Mask” is a layer composition technique in Photoshop, that can limit the visibility of a layer using another layer. Just for example. We have a layer containing a circle image. If we create a new layer above it. By default, any drawings we create on this layer will cover what is underneath and there is no constraint on the transparency. But, if we turn this layer into a “clipping mask”, that is by holding down the Alt key on the keyboard, and then clicking on the borderline between these two layers. Now, the image on this layer is constrained by the transparency or the alpha channel of the layer below it. So, that is what a “Clipping mask” is all about.

Now, let’s focus on Krita. So, can we create a “clipping mask” in Krita? Indeed, there is no feature called “Clipping Mask” in Krita. But we can create the effect using a feature called “inherit alpha”. For example, we have a layer with a circle, similar to the one we had in Photoshop. We can create a new layer above this layer. Then, select both of these layers. Then press Ctrl + G to create a group layer. Activate the “inherit alpha” feature on the layer above. As you can see, similar to the “clipping mask” effect found in Photoshop, the visibility of this layer is now limited to the visibility of the layer below it. Just like the “clipping mask” in Photoshop, “inherit alpha” is a non-destructive feature. Meaning, you can turn it on or off whenever you want to, without degrading the image. If you forget the shortcut, you can access it by right-clicking on the layers, then “group”, and then “Quick group”. Or you can also open the “layer” menu, then choose “group”, and then choose this “Quick group” command.

Besides the “Quick group” command, Krita also provides a faster method for creating a “clipping mask” effect. And that is by using the “Quick clipping group” command. You can see the shortcut for this command is Ctrl + Shift + G. Let’s see an example. But first, I’m undoing all the steps before, until we only have the layer containing the circle. So, to use the “Quick clipping group” command, first, you need to select the layer you want to use as the base layer. Then press Ctrl + Shift + G. As you can see. Krita just created a group layer as well as a new layer with the “inherit alpha” option already active. So, we can immediately draw on this new layer as a clipped layer. Because the transparency is already constrained by the layer below it.

Until this point, you might be thinking that creating a “Clipping mask” effect in Krita is more troublesome than in Photoshop. Because we have to create a group layer for it. My answer to this is “yes” and “no”. Yes, it is a bit more complicated, if you only need a single layer as a “clipping mask”. And, “No”, you don’t actually need a group layer to use “inherit alpha”. It is just that, the way the “inherit alpha” works is quite different than the “clipping mask”. “Inherit alpha” works by reading all the layers below it, not just one layer. For example, if we remove these two layers from the group. It seems that the “inherit alpha” stop working. Why? This is because of the background layer. This layer contains a solid white color, not transparent. Because it is now at the same level and below the other layers, it also affects the alpha state of the layers above it that have the “inherit alpha” feature turned on. This is the reason why we use a group layer. We need to contain the “inherit alpha” effect, so it does not reference other layers that we don’t need.

So, essentially, the “Clipping Mask” in Photoshop uses a single layer as a reference. Whereas the “inherit alpha” in Krita uses all the layers below it as references, as long as they are at the same hierarchical level. We can make use of this behavior in making complex image compositions. Just for example. This is an illustration project from one of my online courses. In this file, these layers, “color reflection”, “global shadows”, “ambient occlusion”, and so on, all seem to have a “clipping mask” effect. But, they do not refer to just one layer. Instead, to these 2 layers. If we dig deeper, this layer is actually a group layer also, which contains two vector layers.

Let’s see another example. In this file, the shading colors, highlight colors, and so on, all use the “inherit alpha” feature. They all seem to be clipped to this layer. But, because “inherit alpha” is not bound to just one particular layer. We can easily create a “grayscale” version of it by swapping layers or by adjusting the visibility of the layers below. Then also, for this the layer, although it looks simple at a glance. It actually contains several levels of group layers, raster layers, and vector layers. And this group layer even uses a dynamic coloring technique called “colorize mask”. I have discussed the “colorize mask” technique before in another video. So I don’t need to explain it again in this video.

To recap, we can create an effect similar to a “clipping mask” using the “inherit alpha”. Although at first glance, it seems more troublesome, as we commonly use it with a “group layer”. But this is understandable as the way “inherit alpha” works is different from the “clipping mask”. You will understand and appreciate the “inherit alpha” feature more when your image composition becomes more complex.

There are still many layer and mask features in Krita that we haven’t discussed. If you are interested in learning Krita further, you can join my online courses on Udemy or Skillshare. You can also go to my website “exposeacademy.com”, to see the list of all of my online courses. Don’t forget to “subscribe” to this channel so you don’t miss future tutorials. Please share this video, and give a thumbs up if you like it. If you want to “request” a tutorial about Krita, just write in the comments what topic you want me to discuss. I hope this video is helpful. Wassalamu’alaikum.

bottom of page