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I am having a hell of a time trying to figure out masks. Watched all the vimeo videos, but not helping much because the basics are missing. Is there a good write-up on the very elementary masking? I very much need something written out. The request for a written manual is very much supported.


Question such as:

- Difference between layer mask, quick mask, vector mask, clipping mask, .... including why one works and one does not, or why one is better than the other. Relationship between alpha channel and mask?


- What is implied by position of mask in layers palette: layer itself, besides layer, below layer, indented below layer? What is the meaning of the little logos inside the mask layer?


- What happens when you paint with black, what when white, red, what if transparent? Utterly confused by that and can never predict what is happening and why.


- Terminology hierarchy. Is a luminosity (or fill in what ever mask type there is) mask a quick layer mask (or fill in any mask type there is), vector mask, clipping mask, all, or none, or only partial intersection? I need a Venn Diagram or hierarchical tree of mask terminology. Is a clipping mask a type of a vector mask or not? And is a Vector mask a type of a clipping mask or not? If synonyms, why the two terms? (Part-whole relationships).


- How to consistently turn selections into masks. I think I have a <5% success rate and still don't have the foggiest why it works, when it works, and why not when not. Utterly infuriating.


If there is a book for PS on masking that is also (or even mostly) applicable to AP, that would also work. But must be methodical and logical, not an assemblage of pretty examples that do not show principles. Maybe with exercises to drive home the principles? If AP is fundamentally different from PS, that would also help, so that I do not even try to understand AP based on PS info.


Thanks, I take any help I can get.

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The video tutorials are only of any use to someone who already is familiar with Affinity. The person delivering the information spends no time explaining the actions taken and is doing things at such a rate that one must continually rewind to even see what button was pressed and where it is located. After watching some of these video's numerous times I am still none the wiser and probably more confused than ever. That which appears to be so simple and straight forward, when done by an expert, becomes convoluted and disheartening when attempted by someone new to this piece of software.

As requested above, a printed manual would be of enormous benefit and a series of videos, made by an "educator" rather than an "expert", would be even better.

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For the basics, this article for Photoshop may help. Note that there are two types of masks (clipping & layer) & that they work differently. There is also a short discussion about layer masks here & a long article with a practical example here, both for PS but the principles are the same for any app that supports masking.


If you have not already done so, I suggest opening AP help to the table of contents. From the "Layers" section, study the Layer Masks topic & from the "Layers Operations" one study the Clipping one. There are also several topics in the "Selections" section about using the Quick Mask function, refining pixel selection edges, & so on.

All 3 1.10.6, & all 3 V2.03 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.6; Affinity Designer 1.10.6; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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Thanks for the pointers. That was already very helpful. Started reading AF help sections. I run into trouble with 

Layer clipping

I read through that several times, and for the life of it, I cannot figure out what the grey red and pink layers are doing, and why the grey layer is on top, and not the nested one. The example is WAY too complicated. The PS tutorial with different greyed circles is far better.


I also wonder why you would use a mask as opposed to using the curve adjustments for transparency (layer above, layer below).


I have been using AP for a while now (year or so), and have 20 years with PS. Never saw the need for mask for scientific illustrations. Recently got into false color IR, and need more refined adjustment options. 

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layer mask > just a normal mask

quick mask > option to view a selection and preview how the mask might come out + edit the selection (e.g. scale)

vector mask/ clipping mask > vector based, not pixel based, one way is to nest an image into another and only is visible were the other is, the other way round is that a path clips an image


layer itself, besides layer > normal mask

below layer > just effecting all layers below

indented below layer > only for clipping/ not for pixel masks


black conceals

white reveals 


luminosity mask is not a mask type, it is just how the mask was created which is based on luminosity, it is a pixel mask the not a vector mask


Is a clipping mask a type of a vector mask > yes

And is a Vector mask a type of a clipping mask or not > yes

synonyms? I don´t know because I don´t bother much with that terminology but you just need to know how the vector masks work if you clip a layer using a vector (it get´s clipped by the vector shape) or you nest the layer inented-below a layer (the layer is only visible where the so called parent layer s visible)


- How to consistently turn selections into masks

> just press the mask button at the bottom of the layers panel (square with a hole in it) > 100% success 


almost all PS tutorials I´ve seen so far were applicable to AP as well, if you link to any specific one I´ll tell you what the equivalent is in AP


also definitely take a look at blend ranges which are more flexible and thus more powerful than luminosity masks






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I don't worry about the terminology either. I tend to think of clipping layers & masks as two different things. I use clipping constantly to simplify my work. For example, say I have drawn a retort or beaker shape & I want to show it half filled with liquid. I could create a duplicate of the shape, remove the part that is above the liquid level, shrink it slightly so it doesn't extend to the outline of the original, & then fill it with a color or a bitmap of a liquid.


But it is much faster & more precise to just create a rectangle, fill it with the color or bitmap representing the liquid, & nest that under the beaker shape. I can then resize or move it however I want to raise or lower the liquid level. I can use the Lock Children option on the parent beaker layer to keep the liquid level horizontal if I "tip" the beaker by rotating it. And the best part about it is it is non-destructive -- I can change my mind, experiment with different colors, transparencies, blend modes, whatever; all without ever altering the original shape (or raster image, if that is the parent I am working with).

All 3 1.10.6, & all 3 V2.03 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.6; Affinity Designer 1.10.6; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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