What is image masking and Why do you need it?

Who doesn’t love candid photos and selfies? Capturing stunning candid images is considered a daily essential in today’s digital environment. Whether you want to create a stunning photo for personal or business use, you need to get your hands around image masking.

High-quality candid images are essential for ecommerce businesses to reinstate confidence among users. However, taking high-quality photos every time may be challenging, even for a professional photographer and high-quality equipment, since even images from the latest photography equipment may lead to dull and unimpressive images.

That’s where image masking comes to the rescue…

If you aren’t familiar with the technique, continue to read on. Below, we will be looking at all the necessary details you need to know about image masking and why you need it for your business!

What Is Image Masking?

To put it simply, image masking is an image-processing technique that is used to remove the image background. The best part about the image masking process is its non-destructive nature. This means that your original image is safe, while you can remove/add new backgrounds to achieve stunning results.

Image masking techniques also enable users to alter an image's specific elements without editing the background. For example, the technique can help editors brighten up the subject in the image without editing the background. Alternatively, you can alter the image's background without editing the image subject.

Before we move forward with the image masking process, it’s worth mentioning that the process may vary from software to software; however, the purpose and use of the process remain the same. Fortunately, today we have various image masking software available in the market at minimal rates, which can be used to edit images easily.

Image Masking Process

As we mentioned above, the image masking process may vary from software to software. Below, we will be looking at two of the easiest and most widely implemented ways to mask images:

Method 1: Photoshop

Photoshop is by far one of the most popular photo editing software globally. The software has loads of image-masking features and functionalities, including image masking. Below are some simple steps you can follow to mask images in Photoshop.

Step 1: Launching the Software and Opening the Desired Image

To start, simply open the software on your PC or laptop. If you don’t already have software installed, you can download it from Adobe or a third-party website and install it. Once the software is installed, simply open the software and add your desired image. To open the image, press “File” on the “top-left” corner of the software and click “add an image.” Here, you can select your desired image by browsing through the folders on your machine.

Step 2: Create A New Layer

Once the desired image is loaded in the software, you will need to create multiple layers (one atop of another) to mask the image.

To create a new layer, head to the “layer option” (you will find this on the button side of the layer panel). From there, you can select “Create a new layer” and name it “Layer 2”. Once the layer is created, move it below the first layer. You can repeat the process to create as many layers as you want.

Step 3: Make A Selection

Now, select the new layer, “layer 2,” and choose “selection tool” from the main “toolbox.” Next, choose the area/portion/element of the image you want to edit using the “Hole” of the tool. Here, you can use either the “rectangular marquee” or other selection tools to choose the shape.

Step 4: Fill out the Selection

Next, you will need to fill in the selected area of the image. At this step, you can turn off the visualization of the original layer, “Layer 1”.

To fill the selection, go to the “menu bar” at the top and click “edit > fill.” Here, you can fill in the selection with any color or pattern you wish.

Step 5: Deselect the Selection

Once the selected area is filled with the color/pattern of desire, simply deselect the area. To deselect, go to the “menu bar” at the top and click “select > deselect.”

Step 6: Mask the Image

Once you have “deselected” the selection, click on the original layer, “layer 1,” and select “layer > create clipping mask” from the menu. This will convert “layer 1” to the clipping mask by default, which subsequently can be used as a clipping mask. You can also use this image underneath other images as a background. Also, if you have selected the main subject, you can move the subject to other images or play around by changing different backgrounds.

Method 2: Online Image Masking Services

Ok, if you are intimidated by all the steps we mentioned in the first method, you can simply go with professional image masking services only to get things done for you. This is the easy way out for people with little to no image processing basics. Here’re a few steps that you will be doing to get your images masked through this method:

Step 1: Find the right Agency and Send Your Images

Firstly, you simply have to choose from the various online image processing agencies. Make sure to compare the prices offered by different agencies (since there is intense competition, you can get a great deal by comparing quotes from different agencies). Once you are done choosing an agency, simply send your desired images through email or the cloud (check out with the agency’s support team).

Step 2: Get Your Images

Once the images are masked, the agency will send back the images within the stipulated time. Typically, the images can be sent and received through cloud services like WeTransfer or Dropbox. Simply download the images and enjoy.

Why Do You Need Image Masking?

Ok, now that we know some image masking methods, let’s explore some uses/purposes of image masking.

Edit Portions of Images

It’s common for ecommerce businesses to edit the image (change size, contrast, background) for various reasons. For instance, brands selling clothing may need image masks to create multiple copies of a garment with different colors. In this case, you will need to mask the image's subject and change the product's color.

Display or Hide Image Portions

Apart from editing the portions of the images, the process is also widely used to display or hire certain regions of the image. The technique enables graphic designers to isolate subjects in an efficient manner. Also, the technique can be used to crop images from the background.

Non-destructive Process

The best part about the image masking technique is its non-destructive nature. While many image processing techniques make restoring an element (once removed) difficult, it’s straightforward to hide or bring back any area you want. The technique also preserves the core subject of the image while you continue working on the image's background.

Making Collage Images

Image masking can also be used to create intriguing effects by making a collage of multiple images. The technique also enables editors to separate or merge multiple images into one.

Types of Images Masking 

There are three common types of image masking include:

Layer Masking

Layer masking is one of the most widely used image masking types in photo editing. The technique is highly preferred since it enables editors to independently edit various parts/segments of images without changing other parts. Layer masking also allows editors to alter the visibility of multiple layers, while you can also work around the opacity of different portions of the image.

Clipping Masking

The clipping masking technique enables photo editors to work with multiple layers of an image. The process enables combining two or more layers to create aesthetically pleasing and more crisp images. The technique also allows editors to control the transparency of multiple layers and can be sued to create frames for images, generate lucrative layouts, and various other image processing tasks.

Alpha Channel Masking

Lastly, we have alpha channel masking, which is ideal for executing complex masking tasks. This technique takes into consideration the unique characteristics of different images and ensures efficient and effective masking, even for photos with inadequate contrast between object and background.


Images are everywhere. From candid selfies to high-quality product photographs, we need stunning real-life hero images to grab viewers’ attention. Image masking is one technique that enables users to create stunning images by merging or editing multiple images while keeping the focus on the main subject.