How do I add multiple masks to a layer in Photoshop CS3? I already created one mask for chain link fence so that the fence would appear between a person and his original background:


Now I would like to apply a second mask to the chain link fence for dirty grunge effect - for example, make some chains broken or frailed. The reason why I want two masks is so that I can edit each independently and have a non-destructive way of playing with my fence.

2 Answers 2


It's hacky, but you can add multiple raster masks by Grouping the layer. Of course, this may cause problems if you need it to be bound to a lower layer, but if the layer is "independent" you can add as many redundant masks as you want.

So, in your example, you could make your fence with its layer mask. Then make a group with the fence (and any effects). Mask the group with the man's outline so the fence appears behind him.

  • 1
    I wouldn't call that "hacky." It's just using a feature in a sneaky way. ;-) May 19, 2011 at 20:30

You can add a vector mask, not a second raster mask, but that won't get you where you need to go.

There a several ways to add your grunge effect, but probably the simplest would convert the fence layer to a Smart Object (they were new in CS3, from what I remember) and mask that. You'll not interfere with the mask in the object itself, but you will have a problem if you ever need to move either the man or the fence.

Another way to grunge up only the fence layer would be to make a new layer group with only that one layer in it, and add a mask to the layer. If you "unhook" your existing mask from the layer, you will be able to adjust the position of the layer without affecting the illusion.

All that said, a different but possibly much faster technique is:

  1. Make the "man" layer active, then Ctrl-click (Cmd-click) the fence layer's mask icon in the layers panel to load it as as selection.

  2. Copy (Ctrl/Cmd-J or Layer > New > New Layer Via Copy) the man and the background bits seen through the fence onto a new layer.

  3. Move this new layer above the fence layer, and you can do anything you want with that mask.

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