What does the person do in this video (around the 0:21 second mark)?

enter image description here

In that video the person makes a layer group and the makes a mask for it and modifies that mask constantly. I've read this thread but whenever I try that approach I can't modify it the mask the way the person in that video is modifying it.

  • Please mark in your post the timeframe for what steps you're trying to reproduce from the video.
    – AndrewH
    Aug 7, 2015 at 17:45
  • Depends a little on what you're going to use it for, but if you're going to do something like this, you might as well do it in Illustrator. Assuming that you're doing something similar...
    – Joonas
    Aug 7, 2015 at 17:55
  • AndrewH, now I marked it, but Scott already answered the question. Aug 7, 2015 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


Photoshop has roughly 4 different layer constructs:

  • Pixel Layers - a layer consisting of only pixels (raster)
  • Shape Layers - A layer consisting of a flood color fill layer in conjunction with a vector mask
  • Vector Layers - a vector path which uses fill and stroke options
  • Smart Objects - an embedded data file which can consist of any number of the above.

That video uses Shape Layers indicating Photoshop CS5 or older may be in use.

This is how Photoshop operated before Photoshop CS6. Since CS6, Photoshop has implemented Vector Layers which are similar in appearance but completely different than Shape layers in construct.

The difference is that with the newer vector layers there is no mask. You edit the actual shape on the layer as opposed to the mask. The appearance of the layers ultimately looks the same in the artwork, it is merely the construction of the layer which differs.


In the video, shape layers are being used. So, when the shape needs editing the vector mask is clicked and edited:

shape layer

This is how things worked prior to Photoshop CS6 and vector layers.

With a vector layer you just click the layer and edit the shape directly:

vector layer

The results are the same. The difference is how the layer constructs work.

With Photoshop CS6 or newer you do not need the separate vector mask. Just use the Pen Tool or Shape Tools to draw the shapes you want, then set the fill and stroke in the control bar:

enter image description here

So, in short, if you are using CS6 or newer, you do not need the mask. Just draw vector layers.

If you really want vector masks rather than vector layers you can set the vector tools (Pen tool and Shape tools) to create only a path:

enter image description here

Then, after the path is created choose Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path and Photoshop will create a vector mask using the path. (This is how I created the vector mask in the images above). In general though, vector layers are just easier to work with and offer more features. Which is largely why they replaced the previous shape layers.

  • Glad to help @PatrickPekola If this answers your question , please remember to tick the check mark to the left. Thanks!
    – Scott
    Aug 7, 2015 at 18:31
  • Oh, thank you for helping me to use this site also :D Aug 7, 2015 at 18:43

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