Is it possible to "apply" a clipping mask, just like I can apply a layer mask? Let's say I have two layers like this:

enter image description here

(I know it's ugly but it makes my point clearer)

When I create a clipping mask on Layer B, it looks like:

enter image description here

How to keep Layer B this way, while releasing the clipping mask? (so I can reuse the clipped shape on Layer B in other files, or add a new unclipped layer between A and B, etc)

I ctrl-click to select all pixels on Layer A, inverse the selection, and clear selected pixels from Layer B. But the result is different:

enter image description here

I want the result to be exactly the same as when I use a clipping mask. Is it possible?

  • Can't you simply create a standard layer mask from the base shape and apply that mask to layer b?
    – Scott
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 3:45
  • Group + Merge = Same result as applying a mask. Group might be unnecessary in this situation, but in general it makes the result more consistent.
    – Joonas
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 5:54

2 Answers 2


To answer shortly — no, you can't apply a clipping mask so that B would look like a clipped layer — but there're some workarounds. The issue here is half-transparent pixels. When you clip layers, non-transparent pixels of B use the transparency of A: so on a border you're getting red pixels. When you apply a mask based on A transparency to B and unclip the layers, you have half-transparent red pixels of B (result of the mask applied) on top on half-transparent green pixels of A, and they mix together giving you this red-green halo.

When I need something similar (having unclipped layers behave as clipped) I create a group with a mask based on A's transparency, bleed the A layer (so that half-transparent pixels won't be affected by half-transparency of the group mask) and inside this group every layer will be like a clipping layer.

enter image description here


In your 2nd image the red layer is nearly opaque at 3 o'clock, but turns to white. In your 3rd image the red turns to transparency at 3 o'clock, so the green is partially visible. The result is like the red layer had a fuzzy layer mask, but the red color itself was solid.

To keep the fuzzy edge at 3 o'clock as a gradient to the background color you must remove the green below or insert background color between green and red or have the background color with fuzzy edge above the red layer.

In the next image the red is combined with opaque white. It's seen in the right where the background is erased.

enter image description here

The red or more exactly the red-white layer looks the same at 3 o'clock, no matter what you add below it or where you move it to.

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