The post-production process of photography has been made much easier with the array of tools available for photo retouching. However, just as the world of photography is continuously evolving, so are photo retouching services and tools in order to keep up with dynamic industry. For instance, clipping path services were the norm for retouching services that required elements to be hidden in the final product or to show up a part of an image for the end product. But with time more tools have gained popularity due to their convenience, efficacy or ease of use such as the different masks now available in Photoshop.
Knowing whether to use clipping paths or masks for your photo retouching processes depends on a number of factors such as the kind of subject you want to silhouette or isolate, the characteristics they embody such as hard edges, smooth lines and fine details, the photo retouching tool you are more skilled at using and the medium or application you want to use the image in. These factors will determine what tool is better for the niche you work in and the projects you deal with every day as well as affect the quality of the final image produced. Since both are used to show or hide elements or parts of an image, your choice will be influenced by the above factors and the differences between the two tools. These differences include the technologies used, differences in browser support, syntaxes, and the new vs. the deprecated versions of each and differences in what they can do with the images you are working on.
Clipping path is done using a Photoshop pen tool and cut out subjects of the image from the background. The clipping path which is always a vector path defines the visible portions of the object whereby everything inside the path is opaque while everything outside it is transparent. When creating a clipping path, an image is opened in Photoshop and a new layer is placed in the path plate and we have to draw a path around the subject. The clipping path is done and can be kept active as you work on an image or inactive depending on what you are doing or the purpose. Clip path came about to replace clip which is not compatible with CSS and was rather limiting to work with. As a newer version, it allows you to do more and carry out your clip path services in various browsers although some may not work as well. Additionally, it allows you to work with the Photoshop Pen tool that is rather difficult to master but produces faster and more accurate results in most cases as well as flexibility. However, may people are switching to masks for a number of reasons.
Image Masking is used to make certain parts of images invisible and show other parts or objects in their place. They are excellent for adding enhancements to an image or a design. There are two main types of masks: clipping masks and layer masks and they behave in a similar manner, performing the same functions but they are also used in different ways for different purposes. Layering masks apply a single mask to a single image to hide parts of a layer of an image while revealing the underlying layers. They give you more control over the pixels of a single layer and allow you to adjust the opacity and transparency of a layer through a mask. Clipping masks, on the other hand, are used to hide parts of images using masks that are created using multiple layers and based on paths or selections that are pre-made in form of shapes, texts or vector objects. These shapes or vector objects mask other artwork or images and only reveal the components that are within the shape.
Our Conclusion, Masks are better than clipping paths as they offer more convenience allowing you to cut out objects that are isolated, work with print as well as the web and have excellent adjustable transparency allowing you to adjust for backgrounds and soft edges pixel by pixel. Clipping paths services tend to be all-or-nothing and make working with gradients virtually impossible. It also requires you to have a great mastery of the pen tool which is rather difficult and time-consuming. However, it does have an advantage over masks in one area; text wrapping. If you are not using it for this purpose however and work with softer edges and gradients more often than hard-edged images, then masks are the better alternative.