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How to Invert Vector Mask in Photoshop

This tutorial covers situation when you have created vector mask but exactly opposite of what you need. This can happen in situation when is easier to outline what you do not need or what to hide with vector mask.

First thing first, to outline object you will probably use Pen tool and Paths drawing mode from options bar.

After outlining object use Path Selection Tool to select entire path and go to Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl + click Add layer mask icon at LAYERS palette.

And let’s say you have exactly opposite of what you need. If you open MASKS palette, Invert option is grayed out so you can not use it.

To invert vector mask follow this instruction:

First click on vector mask to select it
Select Path Selection tool from toolbox
Click inside path (anchor points will appear)

Click Subtract from shape area in options bar.

That’s it! You have inverted your vector mask. And by the way you can always soften vector mask edges using Feather slider from MASKS panel.

Invert vector mask in Photoshop CS6
In Photoshop CS6 follow same procedure with small difference in interface. There isn't icons at Options bar as in previous versions but instead use Path operations drop-down list to change to Subtract Front Shape.
Invert vector mask in Photoshop CS6
To invert vector mask first select path then choose Subtract Front Shape from Path operations drop-down list

Reference:
Photoshop Help / Masking layers

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Photoshop CS5
*Updated September 20, 2012
Tips 9064305641348280443

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