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Layer masks vs. vector masks: When to use them and why

Added on Thursday 14th of April 2011 08:23 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


I enjoyed the article in the November 2010 issue titled “Create sharp-edged vector masks for better edits in Photoshop.” I’m a little confused about how I should decide if I should use a layer mask or a vector mask. Can you explain the difference?


Sure! As you know, masks are a great help when working with images. They protect and isolate areas of an image from editing actions, such as painting, drawing, and erasing. Photoshop includes two types of masks: layer masks and vector masks. Although they both perform the same functions, each is created in a different way for a different purpose.

Layer masks are raster images that you create using the painting tools. Like other raster images they can have areas that are solid, transparent, and partially transparent,...