this video Aaron Nace from Phlearn demonstrates how to use vector masks in Photoshop.
Most advanced Photoshop users are very well acquainted with layer masks. A vector mask is a little bit different and Nace explains the differences like this:
• Determines visibility based on pixels, not shapes.
• Paint white on a layer mask to make areas visible, black to make them invisible.
• Allows filters like Blur and Sharpen.
• Determines visibility based on Pen Paths and shapes.
• Paths can be altered at any time, revealing different parts of an image.
• Add feathering using the Properties Window.
When cutting an object out of its background, it is important to be able to see what you are cutting out. When using vector masks, the subject can get hidden by the mask. To reveal the subject, open the properties window and lower the vector mask density to “see through” the vector mask temporarily.
Another point that Nace is making is that a vector mask will cut an object out with a sharp edge, to add feathering to the edge, open the properties window and slide the Feathering slider to soften the edge.
Most of this video is actually dedicated to working with the pen path tool. In the past we have posted several of Nace’s videos on using the pen tool including “How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop“ and the more extensive “How to Master the Pen Tool in Photoshop” by photographer Nathaniel Dodson.