This tutorial will help to explain how to create clipping masks in Photoshop :o)  These screenshots were taken in PS CS4 - but should be pretty similar for other versions as well.  The CLIPPING MASK feature allows you to 'clip' papers (or photos, etc.) to shapes and text.  When comparing to 'real world' applications - think of cutting out a piece of patterned paper to mod podge to a heart made of chipboard :o)  Best of all - this is sooooo easy to do DIGITALLY!  So, follow along below...and have fun customizing all kinds of shapes and text...and whatever else you can think of!

Open up the file/shape that you want to work with (or, create the text that you wish to 'cover')!  Above, I opened one of the scalloped heart shapes from the SCALLOPS, SHAPES & MORE collection available at the Shabby Shoppe The damask paper is from the SWEETIE PIE collection :o)

Now, open your paper (or photo, etc.) and drag it to the shape file.  You will want to be sure that the paper (or photo) layer is ABOVE the shape layer.

Now, be sure to highlight the PAPER (or photo) layer (as shown above - highlighted in blue).  There are two ways to create a clipping mask - you can either choose the mouse option...or the keyboard shortcut!  For the mouse option, simply RIGHT CLICK on the PAPER layer and select CREATE CLIPPING MASK.  For the hot keys - press down CTRL-ALT-G all at the same time.  Voila - you have created a clipping mask!  Your paper should now be 'clipped' to the shape layer that was directly below it.

This is how your layer palette should look after you have created the clipping mask <above>.  Please note that I added a drop shadow to the heart shape as well as a white background...just so that you can see the details.


THAT'S IT :o)  Now, you can merge the two layers together if you like (if you do - you might want to consider NOT adding a drop shadow or layer effects until AFTER you have merged the shape layer with the clipping mask.  If you add a shadow, etc. prior to merging...you will not be able to edit that style later).

I hope you have fun working with this super useful and fun technique!  I cannot tell you how often I work with clipping masks in both my designing and scrapping!