Is there a way to hide the contents of a clipping mask in photoshop? I don't want the clipping mask to show through in areas where the clipped layer is transparent.

Images might make it clear.

My layer setup:

enter image description here

Without clipping mask:

enter image description here

With clipping mask:

enter image description here

Desired result:

enter image description here

I know I can manually adjust the clipping mask to cover only the areas that the pattern covers, but that is too much effort since the pattern consists of a lot of layers and is quite irregular. Is there another way to simply make the clipping mask never show its own contents?

2 Answers 2


Sorry to be blunt, but you are following the wrong approach.

A better way to achieve this, is to have the pattern as a regular layer, and give that layer a mask to hide parts of it. You can give a layer a 'Layer Mask' (a bitmap mask) by clicking the 'add a mask' button at the bottom of the layers panel while the desired layer is selected:

add a mask button in layers palette

You can then paint with black in the mask to hide parts of the layer, and paint with white to show them again. Greys correspond to a semi-transparency.

You can also add a 'vector mask', preferably by 'stealing' it off from a shape layer.

  1. draw a shape layer, in the shape you'd like the mask to have
  2. command/ctrl-drag the shape layer onto the layer to be masked in the layers palette
  3. delete or hide the shape layer
  • I know that, but my pattern actually consists of a bunch of layers. I have updated the images in my question to make this more clear Does your approach still work then?
    – noio
    Oct 1, 2013 at 13:55
  • It does, if you just group the layers to be masked together and then apply the mask to the group.
    – Vincent
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:08
  • Apply the mask to a layer group (your 'Clipped Group' for example). You can also use a vector mask if you prefer, which works the same way, but uses a vector path instead.
    – John
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:35
  • This solution doesn't work if your masking layer is a smart object.
    – Keavon
    Dec 9, 2013 at 4:50
  • @Keavon: no, but then you can alt-click the Smart Object layer to select all non-transparent pixels in there, and click the 'add a mask' button to create a mask from that.
    – Vincent
    Dec 9, 2013 at 8:31

If you want to do it with a clipping mask instead of a layer mask (which allows you to use a smart object as the mask), see this answer.

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