Clipping path vs masking
A clipping path is drawn in Photoshop with Pen Tool in order to remove background from an object. Drawing clipping path is not that complex as compared to Masking, and it is specially useful for images with sharp edge, it gives perfect shiny edge output. Take a look at the following example.
That was an easy, straight forward method, isn’t it? But what if the object we need to cut-out from background is not that a simple shaped but something like hair, fur etc?
Is it possible to draw path for each and every hair, if even possible, how long will it take? And most importantly what kind of quality can we expect? Lets try it!
Can you see the problem? It does not look natural as it was in the original image. Looks like the doll was cut using a scissor, and lots of fur are lost. But what can be the solution here? How can we remove background from this kind of object while keeping the hair/fur details intact? The answer is, Photoshop Masking!
There are different tools and techniques available in Photoshop that can be used to mask out background from an object. For example Background Eraser Tool, Magic Eraser Tool, Colour separation technique etc. Based on the type of image, different technique is applied to achieve the best result. And for complex images, like the above one, where there is shadow under neath the doll, or for image with multiple background colour, we may have to apply more than one technique to get the best output.
SOME IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT PHOTOSHOP MASKING
When we mask out the background, we may have to draw a rough path around the object but little bit inside the edge, in order to keep the actual object safe.
This path is not to be used directly to remove background, but to be used when masking. So if we place the finished image into Illustrator, InDesign or other similar software, we have to make sure that the path is not an active Clipping Path, in other word, Clipping Path is not applied to the path. Because if the path is converted to Clipping Path, and you place the image into Illustrator or InDesign, everything outside the path will be omitted. So you lose the hairs which are outside the path.