Simulating a multicolor shape layer

Shape layers are typically filled with a single solid color although you can use a gradient or a pattern. Sometimes, however, you are better served with a multicolor shape. Take a look at Figure 11-10 and compare the pair of shape layers to the left with the same shapes to the right.

In addition to the layer styles applied, layer masks hide parts of the more elaborate pair of shapes on the right. Like the vector path that hides parts of a shape layer, a layer mask determines what areas of the layer are visible. You can use layer masks and vector masks together on a single layer, as you can see for three of the four layers in Figure 11-11.

Figure 11-10: Dressing up the shapes can make a world of difference.
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Figure 11-11: Layer masks and vector masks work together to determine layer visibility.

Here's what you're looking at in the Layers palette of Figure 11-11:

l Layer Shape 1 copy: This is the top layer and would normally hide everything on the layers below. The layer, as you can tell from the leftmost thumbnail in the Layers palette, is filled with green. The right-most thumbnail is the vector mask created by the Custom Shape tool. You can see the shape's path in that thumbnail. The middle thumbnail is the layer mask. By painting with black in the layer mask, you can hide parts of the layer. In this case, the right part of the shape layer is hidden.

I Layer Shape 2 copy: Again, a pair of masks are used together. You can see that the vector shape is an entire pair of scissors. The middle thumbnail shows where the layer is hidden by a layer mask, leaving only the blades of the scissors visible on the gray-filled layer.

i Layer Shape 2: This layer requires only the vector path shape. The gray layer just above hides what would be black scissors blades.

l Layer Shape 1: The layers above partially hide the red shape layer. Notice how because of the order of the layers in the Layers palette, the blades of the scissors appear to be in front of the red part of the object and behind the green part of the object.

Adding a layer mask to your shape layer is as easy as clicking the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette (third button from the left), and then painting with black to hide, white to show, and gray to partially hide. You can also make a selection in your image and use the LayerOLayer Mask menu commands. You can add layer masks to any layer except those named Background. (You can't have transparent areas on a background layer, but you can rename a background layer to convert it to a regular layer.)

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