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What's the difference between Mask Layer and another one(the one with the crop icon) technically in this case?
The another one can be a pixel layer.
In that case, they seems to be no difference each other.

I've been using them without knowing the difference whole time.
But I like to know the difference to explain the layer system to other users.

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A layer mask is used to reveal a portion of a layer while the rest of the layer remains hidden. This means that you can use a mask layer to 'delete' areas of a layer that you don't want.

In Affinity Photo, two types of masking are possible:

  • Pixel masking: performs a similar task to the erase tools with one important difference; a pixel mask can be modified, or even discarded, at any point in time.
  • Vector masking: this involves using vector content as a mask over another layer that crops to the vector content's outline.

 

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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8 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

The layer icon looks like a rasterized vector layer?

It has been a pixel layer from the beginning.
When you move a  layer to right side of the thumbnail of a layer,  it will have the crop icon regardless of whether pixel or vector.

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4 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

You mask then with that dragged pixel layer (whatever that contains), the other one is a general/common mask where you have to draw/brush on.

What's the use case for each type?
They just mask the parent layer. so they look the same to me.

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8 hours ago, ashf said:

Serif often call them "masking" or "mask", it's confusing.

Partly yes, since some things are generally also not very well documented here. - There is always room for improvements in certain areas, documentation is one of them.

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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8 hours ago, ashf said:

I see so the one with crop icon is actually a clipping but masking.
Serif often call them "masking" or "mask", it's confusing.

In fact you can even use the one with the crop-symbol in the same way as the other one. For example if you create an empty pixel layer, drag it onto the icon of your image layer and paint on the empty pixel layer, it will behae exactly like a normal mask. Or if you drag a vector object, blur it and drag it onto the icon of the image layer. The differences between masking and vector masking are not as significant that vector masking should be reduced to clipping.

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22 minutes ago, iconoclast said:

In fact you can even use the one with the crop-symbol in the same way as the other one. For example if you create an empty pixel layer, drag it onto the icon of your image layer and paint on the empty pixel layer, it will behae exactly like a normal mask. Or if you drag a vector object, blur it and drag it onto the icon of the image layer. The differences between masking and vector masking are not as significant that vector masking should be reduced to clipping.

I roughly know how them work.
The problem is Serif's insufficient and inconsistent explanation.
There is no clear mention about the one with the crop icon at all.
There's "Mask to below" command and James Ritson call them "masking" in a tutorial video, so I assumed it's a mask.
But from the explanation on the topic v_kyr linked, it's not suitable to call them a mask I think. OP call them "cropping" but it's not official name.

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8 minutes ago, ashf said:

I roughly know how them work.
The problem is Serif's insufficient and inconsistent explanation.
There is no clear mention about the one with the crop icon at all.
There's "Mask to below" command and James Ritson call them "masking" in a tutorial video, so I assumed it's a mask.
But from the explanation on the topic v_kyr linked, it's not suitable to call them a mask I think. OP call them "cropping" but it's not official name.

I think there is more a technical difference between both options. To reduce the second method on cropping or clipping wouldn't do justice to it and would also be misleading, I think.

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1 hour ago, iconoclast said:

In fact you can even use the one with the crop-symbol in the same way as the other one. For example if you create an empty pixel layer, drag it onto the icon of your image layer and paint on the empty pixel layer, it will behave exactly like a normal mask. Or if you drag a vector object, blur it and drag it onto the icon of the image layer. The differences between masking and vector masking are not as significant that vector masking should be reduced to clipping.

Vector masking is cropping, not clipping. When you use a vector shape to mask another object, the cropping/masking shape becomes completely invisible. When you clip an object to a vector shape you create a ‘clipview’ object and any part of the clipping shape which is outside of the clipview area remains visible.

Part of the confusion around the terminology is probably explained by the fact that Serif uses the same definitions as Corel uses but some people are familiar with Adobe’s references to ‘clipping masks’ in Photoshop.

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15 minutes ago, Alfred said:

...Part of the confusion around the terminology is probably explained by the fact that Serif uses the same definitions as Corel uses but some people are familiar with Adobe’s references to ‘clipping masks’ in Photoshop.

That is in fact a problem if you jump between different programs. I remember, I had a software that called layers "foils" (think it was PhotoImpact). Some programs call curves "pathes", Sometimes confusing, but finally it's only words. What counts is that and how it works.

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