Let's say that I have two layers:

  • Layer 2: An image with an Outer Glow layer effect.
  • Layer 1: An image that I want to use to mask Layer2.

In the example below, Layer 1 is the white brush and Layer 2 is the red brush with a glow effect applied.

enter image description here

If I create a layer mask from Layer 1 and apply that to Layer 2 (and set "Layer Mask Hides Effects" to off), then I get this result:

enter image description here

But I would prefer to use a clipping mask instead of a layer mask because, in my case, Layer 1 is actually a group of many layers with a complex timeline-based animation, and so a single layer mask won't mask correctly for every frame of animation. A clipping mask is by far the easier way to mask based on an animation. But when I use a clipping mask instead of a layer mask, I get this:

enter image description here

Note how the glow is also clipped by Layer 1, which is not what I want, and I see no corresponding "Clipping Mask Hides Effects" option like there is with layer masks.

My current work-around is to create a duplicate of Layer 2 for every frame of animation and give each a separate layer mask, but obviously that solution would be very impractical for animations with more than a handful of frames.

Is there any easier way to mask a layer by the layer or layer group underneath when the layer/group underneath is animated, without also masking the effects of the top layer?

  • I don't think it can be done as you described, but maybe it's possible to find an alternative. It's not immediately clear to me how the clipping mask is easier to use in an animation. Do you also move the clipping layer in the animation?
    – Andreyu
    Jun 13, 2016 at 15:33
  • @Andreyu The animated layer is the layer that's doing the clipping. (Not sure what the terminology is here, but it's the layer that becomes underlined when you add a clipping mask to the layer above.) So as the animated layer changes frame-by-frame, how it clips the above layer changes.
    – Walt D
    Jun 13, 2016 at 17:20
  • I see. The only alternative I can think of is masking using a vector layer mask and animating that mask, but it'll only work if the mask shape is simple enough to create using vector paths.
    – Andreyu
    Jun 13, 2016 at 17:42
  • It's not possible as the clipping mask is doing exactly what its function is in Photoshop. It seems like what you're looking for would be easier to do in After Effects.
    – mrchaarlie
    Jun 14, 2016 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


How do you want to animate the layer?

Is this something similar to what you're trying to accomplish?

You can animate a layer mask by unlinking the mask from it's layer. Linked Mask Unlinked Mask

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