Is it possible to create a brush that understands a vector mask? This is the basic idea of what I'd like to achieve.

enter image description here

I have other mountain brushes, and this process (manually) is pretty much my work flow for easy placement right now, but it would be nice if this could be implemented into a mountains brush.

Edit for clarity: the red mountain is "behind" the blue mountain unchained. The red layer's mask is unlinked so the red mountain is moved freely behind the blue one until I find a place I like.

  • 1
    No but you can do this in illustrator. Since illustrator can have a vector knockout and that would do what you want.
    – joojaa
    Dec 31, 2022 at 12:17
  • I will take a look into vector knockout! I'm not as familiar with illustrator but my project does support vector graphics so this might be perfect, thanks! Dec 31, 2022 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


There is no feature in Photoshop where a brush could include a mask of any kind. A brush is just a simple monochrome (greyscale) raster image. They also can't contain coloured pixels either.

I think this could be done by using groups. The basic idea is to create a white fill under the outline of the mountain. Group everything. Then duplicate the group each time you need a new mountain.

Then you can freely move each group. The white fill will hide parts of the mountain behind it.

Here's an example. Note that the red mountain group is under the blue mountain group in the layers panel.

enter image description here

  • I think this will work for what I need, it's a bit disappointing that I can't make a brush with this kind of functionality, but at least I don't have to manually make each fill each time this way. Thanks! Dec 31, 2022 at 19:39
  • @Fuzzyketchup Maybe have a look at GIMP. It has full colour brushes that can contain full colour pixels and alpha transparency. Don't know why Adobe never implemented this TBH.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 31, 2022 at 20:16
  • I'll take a look! Ty Dec 31, 2022 at 20:28

Photoshop brushes can't be vector. Vector masks in Photoshop can't contain pixel data.

Custom Shapes in Photoshop are vector based.

Rather than "mountain brushes" one could use "mountain custom shapes".

That being posted, I have no idea what your "basic idea" is based upon a screenshot which has no explanation.

  • Thanks for the reply, I just meant that the red mountain is "behind" the blue mountain unchained. The red layer's mask is unlinked so the red mountain is moved freely behind the blue one until I find a place I like. Dec 31, 2022 at 8:31
  • What does any of that have to do with vector masks and brushes?
    – Scott
    Dec 31, 2022 at 8:39
  • I really think you could just use custom shapes for the mountain, not brushes. That would streamline things considerably.
    – Scott
    Dec 31, 2022 at 8:41
  • To be frank, I didn't know this wasn't possible with brushes, I was hoping something like this would be easier to implement so that I could simple free paint mountains with a bit of depth. I understand that I may have phrased the question poorly, but I feel like coming to a place like this to ask questions should be encouraged instead of your passive aggressive attitude. This place exists to ask questions and learn. Dec 31, 2022 at 19:38
  • @Fuzzyketchup Apologies, there was absolutely zero "aggression" in my answer and comments, passive or otherwise. I'm a seeker, a searcher, I seek to find answers and understand things. When I don't quite understand, I poke, or make comments about things I don't quite grasp. These honestly aren't meant to be abrasive. However, I've been told on more than one occasion they can be read that way. Please re-read things and imagine I'm laughing and smiling and wearing a big goofy clown nose - because really I never mean to put anyone off. Again, apologies if you read things that way.
    – Scott
    Dec 31, 2022 at 23:06

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