Clipping Path vs Image Masking: What are the Differences?

The demand for digital visuals is at its pinnacle. From photographers, marketers, and businesses, to the digital field, every professional needs high-quality images to fulfill their professional needs. So, the images are bound to go through extensive editing. 

To avoid reworking and simplifying the editing process, images are clipped, backgrounds are removed, or creating vector images. These internally vital tasks are done with clipping path and clipping mask. 

In this article, we will discuss clipping path vs Image masking, their differences, types, and which ones is crucial to fulfilling e-commerce needs. 

Let’s dig deeper.

What is a Photo Clipping Path?

A clipping path, also called deep itching, is a technique to cut a subject from an image by outlining a vector path with the Pen Tool.

In broader terms, Clipping Path means drawing a vector path around a subject to separate it so that it can be extracted from the background and can be used for different purposes.  

As mentioned, by using the Photoshop Pen Tool, a clipping path is created. During the process of creating, several anchor points are created, which altogether connect the outline. Once an outline is created manually, it works as a boundary and hides everything outside the outline, just as masking.

Skill-up tips: Check out this tutorial article to learn how to create a clipping path in Photoshop

3 Different Types of Clipping Paths in Photoshop

The clipping work can be done in 3 different ways; here are those.

1. Single Layer Clipping Path

The single-layer clipping path is to create a single-layer vector path. To do this work, the path is drawn on the same layer. Subjects that have simple to-draw shapes, plain or no edges, fall under this category. For example, books, phones, bottles, etc. Single-layer clipping path is used for removing or changing the background.

2. Multi-Layer Clipping Path

This clipping path is somewhat complex and needs to be created on different layers in Photoshop. It is also called a complex or compound clipping path, and with this process, more than one subject is isolated from an image. Multi-layer clipping path work is needed when the subject is intricating, such as jewelry, clothing, etc.

3. Illustrator Clipping Path

Illustrator clipping path is the process of creating one or more vector shapes using Adobe Illustrator. This offers acute control over curves and anchor points. Illustrator clipping path offers compressing or enlarging an image without losing the image quality. It is generally used for creating logos, designs, etc.

What is a Clipping Mask in Photoshop?

Clipping mask is the process of applying a mask on a group of layers. The process cuts out shapes from one image and pastes them on another.

Creating a clipping mask requires at least 2 layers: a clipping layer that will be clipped and the base layer that determines the shape of the mask. 

Image masking can also be used in both the raster and vector layers. In the raster image, the raster will be the base layer where the Image masking gets used through the alpha channel. In the vector image, the vector will be the base layer and the masking is created by the layer’s shape.

8 Different Types of Masking in Photoshop

Clipping Mask in Photoshop has different variations. Let’s have an overview about them:

1. Layer Masking

Layer masking is a resolution-dependent mask that is effective for Image Manipulation. It is possible to hide or show any part of a layer or group with variation in opacity by using layer masking in Photoshop.

The process is done in Grayscale mode, so, black, white, or gray color can be added to a layer mask. Layer masking also creates different types of effects such as removing objects, transparent mask creation, color adjustments, etc.

2. Clipping Mask

Clipping masks are easy to use, and applicable for both simple and complex effects. In the clipping mask, the layer is applied in more than one layer. Visibility in this masking process is navigated through working on another layer. This masking controls the visibility of layer or layer groups.

3. Alpha Channel Masking

Alpha Channel masking is also known as Raster Masking. This process uses Alpha Channel to create a mask. The process is especially effective for separating subjects with hair or fur. Once the subject has been isolated, it is edited under different channels to make further adjustments. The output generates lightweight files, suitable for upload and download.

4. Channel Mask

Channel masking is generally used for complex images, the process isolates and manipulates the color channels. This masking process creates a transparency mask and allows adjusting color grade, hue, brightness saturation, etc. Also, with this masking, different types of effects can also be created.

5. Translucent & Transparency Masking

Translucent Masking is the method of creating a transparent effect on the subject to make it partially visible, like a nearly blurry view, such as glass, water, etc. Transparent masking is the process where the masking shows the background completely revealed. This type of effect is required to remove backgrounds or create cutouts.

6. Collage Masking

In the collage masking, several images are masked. First, several subjects are extracted from their respective backgrounds and then they are combined above a uniform background. The end result will be a natural-looking single image.

7. Vector Mask

This is a resolution-independent and non-destructive process of masking for showing or hiding anything in the image. By using a Pen Tool or Shape Tool, this mask can be created and is best for subjects with hard surfaces. Compared to pixel-based tools, vector masking is way more accurate, that’s why this masking can be reshaped without decreasing image quality.

8. Quick Mask

The quick mask is the masking process for speedy creation and editing of selection work in Photoshop, created by using the Magnetic Lasso tool or Quick Selection tool. Selecting an area with quick masking will appear as a semi-opaque red color to differentiate the selected and non-selected areas.

Photoshop Clipping Path Vs. Photoshop Clipping Mask: What are the Key Differences?

Let’s check the table of differences between the clipping mask and the clipping path in Photoshop:

TermsClipping PathClipping Mask
Subject EdgeBest for sharp edgesMost suitable for soft edges
Types of ImageWorks well for subjects that have pointy or smooth edges regardless of backgroundWorks well with images having chaotic, soft, and hairy subjects
Working MethodUse clipping first if images need bothUse masking last for images requiring both
CompatibilityCompatible with simple shaped subjects. However, returning to a previous position isn’t allowedEasily works with difficult subjects and the process allows freedom to go back to make any changes
Image DisplayThe clipping path ensures the image looks better with crisp edgesMasking ensures image smoothness
Consumed TimeClipping the path takes some time, as it is done manually. However, it is less than maskingImage masking takes quite a handful of time, as the subject has so many delicate and tiny details
PricingImage clipping path pricing starts at $0.29The photo masking price starts at $0.6

As you understand the difference between the clipping mask and the clipping path lies among the following factors:

Subject Edge 

If your subject has pointy edges, a clipping path is the best option. If you choose masking for such a subject, that’s a difficult decision. With clipping you can draw a route to ease the process of separating the subject from the background. But if your subject has soft edges, such as fur, then masking is the better fit, because doing clipping will ruin the process here. 

Types of Image 

Images having an edge or pointy head are a factor for clipping path or masking. But there is a big difference. For subjects that have harsh and sharp edges, the clipping path is the best suited for that type of image. On the other hand, for subjects having soft edges such as hair, and fur, then the masking is the wise solution you need to go with. 

Working Method

You might get some images that require both clipping and masking in the same image. In that case, use clipping first in that image then masking. 


Clipping path works for simple-shaped subjects, with intricating edges. You need clipping for challenging portions, simply shaped subjects having sharp edges. However, returning to a previous position with clipping isn’t possible. 

On the other hand, masking is for an easier portion and maintains the detail of the subjects. But if you need to go back to a previous position, you can do that with masking and make any necessary adjustments. 

Image Display 

By doing clipping path work in images having pointy end sharp edges, a crisp, and better edgy look is ensured. The clipping mask maintains smoothness for photos having soft edges. 

Consumed Time 

Masking is required for images having soft edges, so the process requires undivided attention which results in having a quite long time to do the job. On the contrary, clipping path works done within a time less than masking. Regardless of the time they require, both of the process has their distinctive role to play so, it’s worth the time. 


Both clipping path and clipping mask has their distinctive role to fulfil and based on that the price is really competitive in the clipping world. However, here at Offshore Clipping, the pricing of these services is quite affordable along with a bulk discount. 

Affordable Clipping Path Service Provider

Image Clipping Path vs. Image Masking – Which is Best for Background Removal?

To remove the existing background from an image, both the clipping path and the Image masking are important. However, depending on the subject, the process should be chosen.

Let’s say a jewelry image has a triangle diamond shape in it. As those are pointy edges, it’s better to use a clipping path for this image. Another image has a Christmas tree with pointy and delicate edges; then, it’s better to do masking.

What are the Benefits of Image Clipping?

The clipping path is a Photoshop process that offers precision, attention to detail, and quality. This is why the work is always sought after by e-commerce businesses, photo studios, and product photographers.

The clipping path in Photoshop offers manifold benefits. Here are those:

  • Easy Extraction to Use

The process of Photoshop clipping path makes the editing process easier. As the subject remains solo, with no background and converted format, those are easy to use anywhere, anytime.

  • Offer Clear Images

Clipping Path ensures image resolution as it offers refined and clean edges, without harming the subject and there won’t be any pixelation. So the subject is always ready to be used anywhere.

  • Aids to Presentation

Clear images show everything about the subject in detail, removing every type of flaw and distraction, which is essential for digital presentation. This type of image catches the buyer’s attention and helps deliver the right message to the targeted audience.

  • Associates to Brands’ Reputation

Quality pictures are appealing to the viewers. So, brands that offer value for the eye with their product image have a loyal clientele. As high-quality images make a long-lasting impression, people tend to trust their products over competitors.

  • Offers Flexibility in Working

Clipping works help separate the subject from the background, opting for versatile uses. Also, the process is time-saving, and nowadays, professional clipping path services are cost-effective as well.

Best Clipping Path Company in the USA

FAQs About Clipping Path vs. Image Masking in Photoshop

 What are the main requirements for a clipping path?

The main requirement for a clipping path is that the image has to have edges of the subject. The subject can be a round, square, or rectangular subject.

What does a clipping mask do in Illustrator?

In Illustrator, a clipping mask hides the subject that has been outlined for masking.

What is the difference between a layer mask and a clipping mask?

The difference between layer mask and clipping mask is the layers. A single layer is used in the layer mask, whereas two layers are used in the clipping masks. 
A layer mask can be created by using different tools. However, the clipping mask is created by using shapes, texts, layers, etc.

What are the 5 different types of layers in Photoshop?

The 5 different types of layers in Photoshop are 1. Image, 2. Adjustments, 3. Fill, 4. Shape and 5. Type. 
Here is what these layers do:

● Image: Contains pixels and image data.
● Adjustments: Creates non-destructive changes in tones, colors, etc.
● Fill: Fills a layer with solid color, pattern, etc.
● Shape: Allows creating and editing vector shapes.
● Type: Permits adding text in the image.


Image clipping path and clipping mask both have their vital importance in the process of photo retouching, depending on the purpose. Both of these help acquire the results of high-quality photos to fulfill a wide variety of e-commerce needs. 

So, if you are looking for professional photo masking services or clipping path services, reach out to OFFSHORE CLIPPING with any of those needs. 

With a team of seasoned photo editors and serving the industry for over 10 years, we know how to bring the best output for your work with speedy processes and precision. 
Contact us today with your requirements.

Ruzel Hasan
Ruzel Hasan

Ruzel Hasan is a genuine polymath. He has versatile skills and is adept in post-production work, graphic designing, photo editing, file formatting, and mastering various related applications and software. In addition, he has a knack for writing, so he shares his knowledge, tips, and ideas through content within his busy schedule.

Related Post