About now, you may be growing fatigued with the topic of layering masking. But one more option requires your immediate attention. You can group multiple layers into something called a clipping group, in which the lowest layer in the group masks the others. Where the lowest layer is transparent, the other layers are hidden; where the lowest layer is opaque, the contents of the other layers are visible.
Note Despite the similarities in name, a clipping group bears no relation to a clipping path. That is, a clipping group doesn't allow you to prepare transparent areas for import into QuarkXPress and the like.
There are two ways to create a clipping group:
4 Alt-click the horizontal line between any two layers to group them into a single unit. Your cursor changes to the group cursor labeled in Figure 12-35 when you press Alt; the horizontal line becomes dotted after you click. To break the layers apart again, Alt-click the dotted line to make it solid.
♦ Select the higher of the two layers you want to combine into a clipping group. Then choose Layer ^ Group with Previous or press Ctrl+G. To make the layers independent again, choose Layer ^ Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G).
Figures 12-35 and 12-36 demonstrate two steps in a piece of artwork I created for Macworld magazine. I had already created some text on an independent layer using the type tool (the subject of the next chapter), and I wanted to fill the text with water. So I added some photographs I shot of a swimming pool to a layer above the text, as shown in Figure 12-35. Then I combined text and pool images into a clipping group. Because the text was beneath the water, Photoshop masked the pool images according to the transparency mask assigned to the text. The result is a water pattern that exactly fills the type, as in Figure 12-36. (For a full-color version of these figures, see Color Plate 12-1.)
Note If you're familiar with Illustrator, you may recognize this clipping group metaphor as a relative to Illustrator's clipping mask. One object in the illustration acts as a mask for a collection of additional objects. In Illustrator, however, the topmost object in the group is the mask, not the bottom one. So much for consistency.
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