About layer and vector masks
You can use masks to hide portions of a layer and reveal portions of the layers below. You can create two types of masks:
Layer masks are resolution-dependent bitmap images that are edited with the painting or selection tools.
- Vector masks are resolution independent and are created with a pen or shape tool.
Layer and vector masks are nondestructive, which means you can go back and re‑edit the masks later without losing the pixels they hide.
In the Layers panel, both the layer and vector masks appear as an additional thumbnail to the right of the layer thumbnail. For the layer mask, this thumbnail represents the grayscale channel that is created when you add the layer mask. The vector mask thumbnail represents a path that clips out the contents of the layer.
To create a layer or vector mask on the Background layer, first convert it to a regular layer (Layer > New > Layer from Background).
A. Layer mask thumbnail B. Vector mask thumbnail C. Vector Mask Link icon D. Add Mask
A vector mask creates a sharp-edged shape on a layer and is useful anytime you want to add a design element with clean, defined edges. After you create a layer with a vector mask, you can apply one or more layer styles to it, edit them if needed, and instantly have a usable button, panel, or other web-design element.
The Properties panel provides additional controls to adjust a mask. You can change the opacity of a mask to let more or less of the masked content show through, invert the mask, or refine the mask borders, as with a selection area.
A. Layer mask B. Vector mask