Foreword: OK so I really should be working in a vector software like Illustrator--unfortunately I don't have access to Ai at the moment.

My question is, how can I "mask" off part of a shape in Photoshop CC so as to preserve the vector nature of shape? This document must be entirely vector artwork and cannot contain raster-based effects like layer-masks.

I have attached an image as a sample. The green box is my desired mask, leaving only the rest of the leaf visible. Like I said, this could easily be done with a layer mask, but layer masks are resolution dependent.

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Create another vector in the shape of the mask below your vector, then create a clipping mask (cmd + opt + g). You can then group the mask and vector so that they move together.

Clipping mask mockup

  • Thank you! That seems to partially work--how do I "get rid of" the fill on the clipping mask? Choosing either fill to be blank (or 0%) or even creating a "path" instead of "shape" occludes the entire desired object
    – Matt
    Nov 30, 2016 at 23:42
  • Hi Matt, only just seen this. Not sure if you've found a solution or not, but it doesn't look like photoshop lets you directly apply a vector mask to a vector object… The only workaround I've found for this is pretty annoying…
    – jess
    Dec 4, 2016 at 20:16
  • uhh I hit enter and can't seem to edit/delete the comment. Anyway create the vector shape you want, then convert it to a smart object. Then add the vector mask in the true vector mask fashion (shape tool > change from "shape" to "path" in toolbar drop down > draw your mask (output as a path) > hit "mask" button in toolbar). Only problem is if you want to resize the vector object you need to do this inside the smart object… which is the annoying part!
    – jess
    Dec 4, 2016 at 20:19
  • Yeah, that does seem to be the only workaround. You're right--seriously irritating limitation for in-a-pinch vector work. The smart object is a clever work-around but unfortunately won't work since I need to export to EPS and it treats smart objects like rasters. I'm marking your answer as the solution though since it technically works for those out there who don't have illustrator.
    – Matt
    Dec 5, 2016 at 23:00

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