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How to use Alpha Lock, Clipping Masks, and Layer Masks on Procreate
Unlock new creative possibilities by learning to use masks.
Procreate has become one of the most popular digital design tools. This app allows you to create beautiful illustrations, edit your photos, and create graphic compositions. If you learn how to use it correctly, you will be able to use it as professional software.
In Procreate, masks allow you to edit some aspects of a layer without affecting the rest of the elements of the composition. In today’s post, we are going to explain three popular types of masks: Alpha Lock, Clipping Masks, and Layer Masks. Understanding how these resources work will help you improve the quality of your artwork. Also, your workflow will become more simple.
On this article:
How to use Alpha Lock on Procreate
You can activate Alpha Lock by swiping right your canvas with two fingers. The modifier will apply to the layer you are in at the moment you start it. You can also do it by opening the Layers panel and tapping on the layer. On the display menu, select Alpha Lock. Once the property is activated, the thumbnail of the layer will have a checkerboard background.
When Alpha Lock is activated, you can only make changes to the pixels where you have drawn. This resource is handy when it comes to adding shadows or textures. You can see an example in the image above.
Bear in mind that you won’t be able to modify the original drawing. You must make sure that the initial figure is complete before applying Alpha Lock. If you turn off the Alpha Lock property, all the modifications that you’ve included will disappear.
In the image above, you can see what would have happened with our drawing if we had not applied Alpha Lock. The texture that we’ve used on the petals is now all over the place. It’s possible to erase all the excess, but it’s a time-consuming task.
As you can see in the example above, if you use Alpha Lock, all the elements will be in the same layer. The shape and its shadows won’t be independent. This means that if you want to make modifications to one of them (e.g., increasing the noise, adding some blur), both elements will change. Alpha Lock is a quick resource, but it can affect your non-destructive workflow.
How to use Clipping Masks on Procreate
To use a clipping mask, you have to create a brand new layer. In the layers panel, place this new layer on top of the layer you’d like to modify. Tap in the new layer with your stylus. An options menu will appear on the left. Select Clipping Mask.
The Clipping Mask allows you to add modifications to the pixels you have used on the layer below. In the Layers Panel, there is a little arrow that points at the layer that the Clipping Mask modifies.
The Clipping Mask is a separate layer. This means that if you apply any changes (e.g., adding noise, adding blur), they will only affect the Clipping Mask. The original layer will remain the same.
You can add several Clipping Masks to the same layer. Every Clipping Mask will count as an independent layer. This way, you can modify some elements without affecting other parts of the illustration. The disadvantage of this procedure is that you keep increasing your layers count.
How to use Layer Masks on Procreate
By using a Layer Mask, you can show, hide, or modify parts of the artwork layer. This option is a hybrid between Alpha Lock and Clipping Masks. It does not generate a new layer, but the effects are attached to the layer below.
When using a Layer Mask, you can paint the layer with three colors: black, white, and grey. Let’s see what happens to the image above in each scenario!
When you go over the figure with black strokes, the areas you touch disappear.
When you go over the figure with white strokes, the areas that you’ve hidden before are visible again.
If you use grey strokes, the areas where you paint will become transparent.
You can activate and deactivate the Layer Mask by checking a box in the layers panel. Doing so won’t destroy the rest of your artwork: it will only affect the changes you’ve made within the Layer Mask.
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