Photoshop: Using clipping masks for custom photo layouts

 Jan 25, 2017

In today's blog, I'll be teaching you how to make a custom photo layout in Photoshop. We will go though how to make a grid with four square images, but you can easily use this tutorial to create round images, grids with more images, etc.

Step One: Use the rectangle tool (in your toolbar on the left) to create a square. It doesn’t matter what colour it is. I like to use guides first to set a perfect size easily.

Keyboard Shortcut to the rectangle tool is U.

Step Two: Create three more squares. An easy way to do this? Right-click your first rectangle layer in the layers panel and then click “Duplicate Layer.” This will create an exact copy of your square, which you can then drag next to your original square. Or you can use the Move tool and CTL+ALT and drag the duplicate rectangle to a new position. Then, you can highlight the first two (in the layers panel on the right) and click “Duplicate Layer” again and drag those two new copies to the bottom, so that you now have four squares of equal proportion and in the same alignment.

Step Three: Drag a photo or image into your document. This photo will take on the shape of the square that it sits ABOVE in the layers panel. The image below is important, because you’ll notice that my image is above the top left square in my layers panel AND it’s on top of that square in the actual document.

Then go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. You must select the TOP layer (i.e. the photo you want to trim) when creating the clipping mask. The image should then be cut to take on the dimensions of the square. Want to move your image? Just drag the photo layer around until you get it into a position you like.

Step Four: Do the same thing to all of your other squares until you’ve created your layout.

Note: I often create layouts like this and then save them as templates on my computer, so that I can reuse them for future use.

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' Graphic Design courses.

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About the Author:

Alice Antonsen  

Alice is one of New Horizons’ most experienced Desktop Applications trainers. She is qualified with a Diploma of Business (Computing) and a Diploma of Information Technology. Since joining New Horizons in 2006, Alice has achieved the prestigious status of a certified Microsoft Office Master and for the past 4 years, has been placed in the Top 25 Desktop Applications trainers for New Horizons Worldwide. Throughout her career, she has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in providing training to individuals and groups of varying skill levels. Alice delivers each training session with great care and consideration ensuring each one is tailored to the learning needs of her students.

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