P: Clipping mask to a Layer group?

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Participant ,
Apr 08, 2011 Apr 08, 2011

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Just one of those things that i've always thought could come in REALLY handy. I have no idea how the actuality of this function would work due to all the possible complexities of the contents within a layer group... but wow, i often think i'd love to clip some adjustment layers to a Layer Group. I am aware of the Pass through to Normal feature but it doesn't really cut it.

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Adobe Employee , Apr 12, 2012 Apr 12, 2012
You can now apply a clipping mask to a group in Photoshop CS6 Beta:

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Participant ,
Apr 20, 2011 Apr 20, 2011

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Here is a another idea. See the screen shot. It would be great if all the layers labeled R2 could be put in a folder and somehow remain 'clipped'.

Image is not available

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Participant ,
Apr 20, 2011 Apr 20, 2011

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I just added a new comment pertaining to this at the bottom of this thread... with a screen shot.

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Enthusiast ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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Working on a recent web design, I realized that there's a real limitation right now with the way clipping groups work.

Rather than sinking your R&D money into 3D, which IMO really doesn't belong in PS (see this thread in forums: http://forums.adobe.com/message/36350..., there are a number of improvements to existing core features that seem like a natural evolution of the feature set in traditional directions.

Currently, clipping groups are one of the more powerful features for creating complex compound elements. Smart Objects are great, but lacking an Isolation Mode or edit-in-place, often end up not being the best for creative work (you can't see the context as you make changes, or not as easily). But clipping groups suffer from a couple of serious limitations that constrain the designer's ability to develop compound shapes that still retain the maximum amount of flexibility.

1. Clipping groups do not extend to layer groups. A layer group can take a mask, but cannot take FX, whereas a clipping base layer can take FX which then can be composited "through" its clipped layers. Think of making a complex web button: the clipping group's base layer is the fundamental "shape" of the button, but can also hold the bevel, the drop shadow, and whatever other effects you might want for rollovers, etc.

2. Clipping groups do not nest. This is particularly useful when creating a compound shape, but also needing to leverage an adjustment layer that needs to be constrained to a particular layer. This issue could be addressed if clipping groups can clip layer groups, but I believe that until you address the nested clipping issue, you will not be able to code issue #1, beacuse the current UI does not provide any way to prevent you from putting a clipping group inside a layer group, so if you then clip the layer group, you run into the nested clipping issue. So you'll have to deal with the logic at some point anyway.

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Adobe Employee ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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I'm not sure if this is useful but I was reading over this thread and had this feedback or a suggestion. By default a layer groups properties are set to Pass Through, if you wanted to limit adjustment layers to only act upon the layers within a group you select the group itself in the layer panel and change the Pass Through at the top to Normal, then any adjustment layers are limited to only affecting layers within that group rather than everything below it.

So in the car example, if you wanted the Curves adjustment layer to affect everything in that group you would put it at the top of the list within the Car group and change the group properties as described.

I'm not sure if that is what you meant, it doesn't require using masking, clipping or a knock out.

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Adobe Employee ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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Tom, I merged your topic with this similar request. Please break your multiple requests into individual "ideas." That will make it easier for the engineering team and user to vote on the individual aspects.

Senior Product Manager - Customer Advocacy - Digital Imaging

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Adobe Employee ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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Tom,

My understanding based on your description, feature requests would be the following:

1) Smart Objects - Direct In place "destructive" editing of the original file, without having to separately open the original

2) Ability to make layer style type adjustments (fx) to a layer group as a whole

3) Create nested clipping mask layers which act upon each other, a nested clipping mask would clip other clipping masks in the same group above it? (I think the same thing can be accomplished currently with layer/group masking but feel free to elaborate)

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Engaged ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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The problem with this approach is it often requires the duplication of a pixel layer, and or mask, for insertion into the folder, with all the overhead and complexity that entails, when a clipped folder would be faster, "lighter" and often more readable in a layer stack.

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Adobe Employee ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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Sorry Scott, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. You can create a mask on a layer group that affects everything in that group?

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Engaged ,
May 27, 2011 May 27, 2011

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David,

Remember, you were talking about creating a Group set to Normal.

Make three adjustment layers that strongly affect a pixel layer below. Then put the three into a group and set that Group's Blend Mode to Normal (instead of the default: Pass Through.) The adj layers will now have no effect on the pixel layer below, unless the pixel layer is placed within the group.

If you only want those three adj layers (in a group set to Normal) affecting part of a pixel image you'd thus need a pixel image inside the group, and one outside the group.

Preferable would be the 3 adj layers in a Group (with one mask on the Group) and the Group clipped to a single pixel layer. It's "lighter" in overhead and cleaner read, at least in some circumstances.

--

Edit: I suspect you will then suggest just returning the blend mode to pass through. But if the pixel layer you are trying to affect occupies only portion of your image the effect will continue beyond it. Or you may suggest to mask the group to the layer, but again, more overhead and cumbersome than just clipping the group to the pixel layer.
---

There are always workarounds. We find ways to do what needs to be done. I'm simply suggesting that if we could clip groups to layers, and layers to groups, our methods could be faster and simpler.

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Enthusiast ,
May 30, 2011 May 30, 2011

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Here's a good example of where Photoshop has current limitations in this regard. Consider a website deisgn: your document canvas is big (3000 px wide) but you want to design the bulk of the content area in a 960px wide design. You think it might be nice to have a dropshadow that separates the 960px content area from the rest of the background.

Best option: create a solid layer, with a 960px vector mask. Add a drop shadow to that layer. Now, make sure it is the base layer of a clipping group for all your content layers.

But website compositions quickly get quite complex. The minute I decide I want to create a graphical button that clips another image, this method doesn't work because you can't have nested clipping groups.

Websites are often divided into functional sections (header, content, sidebar, etc). A best practice is to organize these functional sections into folders (layer groups). Once again, the base clipping layer technique no longer works because you can't clip a layer group.

Someone might then suggest changing one's approach: why not just put all your content area into a Layer Group and then add a mask to that group? Well, then your layer effects on the background no longer work, since a layer group can't take F/X.

So the only solution becomes duplication, and this is precisely what those of us who are asking for this feature are looking to avoid. Everyone knows that the moment you have to duplicate something and keep the copies synchronized, you're creating the opportunities for error to creep into your work. You're also adding hidden complexity to the document that another designer who needs to maintain your file may not clue into.

What happens if you need to adjust the width? Now you need to adjust the mask in two or more separate layers, and those masks must be identical. Not only are we now going through the rigamarole of copying a mask to other layers every time we make a change, we also lose the ability to play those "what if?" games that Photoshop is so good at. By "what if games" I mean: making a single change and seeing if that looks better, and toggling (CTRL+Z) between the change and the previous version to see whether you like it.

Are there workarounds to any of these objections? Of course there are and we Photoshop pros have been using them and developing them for years. But I'm under the impression that this forum is for product improvement suggestions (because you've taken down that thread from the forums.adobe.com), so this thread is not about "how can achieve this?" It's about: "hey Adobe, love your product. Since you asked me for my improvement requests, here's one, based on 40 hours a week for 15 years with your software. While you're out there spending thousands of man-hours developing 3D functionality and other non-essential, non-Photoshop stuff for the next release, can you look at making these small improvements that will make my daily workflow just a little bit nicer?"

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Enthusiast ,
May 30, 2011 May 30, 2011

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Right on, Scott.

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Adobe Employee ,
May 31, 2011 May 31, 2011

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Thanks for the feedback and examples of ideas for future improvements guys. I wasn't disagreeing with anyone, just ensuring existing functionality wasn't being overlooked.

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Enthusiast ,
Aug 03, 2011 Aug 03, 2011

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Not to detract from our thread - I agree completely that clipping groups need to be nestable and interact properly with other groups; however I believe what you are trying to do can be accomplished by putting an adjustment layer as the top layer INSIDE your group. Now I haven't verified this so I may be full of crap - but I believe that the adjustment layer ought to be constrained by the group to not affect anything outside the group's scope.

If I'm wrong then that's a huge oversight and ought to be addressed.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 03, 2011 Aug 03, 2011

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Tom,

Yes, you're right it does work... I was definitely doing something wrong with the group.

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Enthusiast ,
Mar 22, 2012 Mar 22, 2012

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Doesn't address the clipping issue, but at least f/x are now allowed on Layer Groups in PS13

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Adobe Employee ,
Apr 12, 2012 Apr 12, 2012

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You can now apply a clipping mask to a group in Photoshop CS6 Beta:


Senior Product Manager - Customer Advocacy - Digital Imaging

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Participant ,
Jul 21, 2012 Jul 21, 2012

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...and in the full version as well. Nice! :)

Nesting clipping masks is next then? 😉

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 04, 2014 Feb 04, 2014

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I was at first doubtful about this request, but I'm now wishing the opposite: be able to group layers clipped in a clipping mask!

see: http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 04, 2014 Feb 04, 2014

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Yes, I made a request for that: http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...

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LEGEND ,
May 20, 2016 May 20, 2016

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LEGEND ,
Apr 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017

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LATEST
the request is to take a group that is above a layer, alt+click between the two, and make the group what is being clipped by the layer below. 

the group resides within the single layer of pixel data below OR a group is nested into another group. 

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