How to make a Photoshop clipping path

Written by sue smith Google
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How to make a Photoshop clipping path
Clipping paths are often used when preparing digital images for print output. (Adobe Systems Incorporated)

Adobe Photoshop lets you create complex image effects such as masks. By defining a clipping path within an existing image, you can create sections of transparency within the image, or isolate parts of it to output via print media or for use in other files. Many of the images you see in print and web displays are created using Photoshop clipping paths. Creating a clipping path requires using several Photoshop tools, but is accessible to users who do not have advanced knowledge of the software.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Choose a tool. Open your image in Photoshop and decide what area you wish to create a path around. To create a clipping path you first have to define a work path. You can use a shape or pen tool, so decide which would suit your path and image best. Choose a tool and set its properties.

  2. 2

    Select the "Paths" button in the options bar. The shape tools allow you to set options such as proportions, size and radius. With a pen tool, you can choose the freeform option to draw your path freehand as you would with pencil and paper. Choosing the Magnetic pen option will clip the path you draw to already defined parts of the image.

  3. 3

    Draw your work path. Use your selected tool to draw a path within your image, defining the areas you for your clipping process. If you are using the pen tool, you can set it to add an anchor point wherever you click to define the path via the "Auto Add/Delete" option. With the "Rubber Band" option, you can preview the sections within your path as you define it.

  4. 4

    Save your work path. In the Paths panel, your new work path should now appear. To save the path, drag its name to the New Path button which should appear at the bottom of the panel. You can save the path with a name by selecting the Paths panel menu, choosing "Save Path," entering your chosen name and clicking "OK." If you do not save the path you may lose it before you manage to use it.

  5. 5

    Make your path a clipping path. In the Paths panel menu, select "Clipping Path." Select the path you created. Choose Flatness properties to suit your printing requirements and click "OK." Save or print your file. If you are using the path within another application you can explore the "Export" options in the "File" menu.

Tips and warnings

  • You can export paths to other applications such as Adobe Illustrator if you need to use the path data in conjunction with other tools.
  • If your printer cannot print your clipping path image successfully, you may need to simplify the path by reducing the number of anchor points within it.

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