How do I partially break a clipping mask border?

I’m looking for a non-destructive way of allowing an image to be partially “clipped” by a clipping mask, like so:

enter image description here

I view the above image as having three parts…

  • a Person (top layer; being clipped)
  • a Pattern (background layer; being clipped)
  • a Shape (bottom layer; does the clipping)

The Person and Pattern represent the crux of the matter, since the pattern should be clipped entirely, whereas the person is only partially clipped.

Here’s an example of how I achieved this (in an undesired manner):


Here is my Shape, accompanied by the Pattern and Person that will eventually be “clipped” by said Circle:

(This is where my process becomes convoluted)


First, I create a Duplicate Layer of my Person and horizontally align this layer with my Shape. Like so:


Next, I use the magic wand to select my Circle.


After which, I use the Magnetic lasso tool to add the top of my duplicate Person to the same selection.


I then use this selection to create a Layer Mask for my Person.


Finally, I merge these two layers into one shape. Here is what I have thus far:

(From here on it becomes simple)


I used my (now rasterized) shape to as a clipping mask for Pattern


and finally my original Person


Is there straightforward way to allowing my Person to “escape” my clipping mask and move around freely without Steps #2 through #6, which is limiting due to obvious disadvantages.

For example: If I decided I wanted to offset my Person, after my “clipping” shape had already been rasterized, I would have to start from the beginning since it would look like this…

Thanks for reading this far.


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

It would be slightly simpler with Layer mask, but I prefer using Clipping mask if the edge of two layers meet.

Some clarifications to the paragraph above.. I edited this in later because I was reading this question again after a long time and it took me a second to get what I was saying.

What I meant here is that if we take this exact situation, the end result is going to have the bottom of the person layer meeting the edge of the circle layer at the bottom. Because you have 2 layers stacked up and because of anti-aliasing, if you use a Layer mask on the person layer, its edge is going to pass through some of the circle layer color. If you use a clipping mask, this won’t happen. Long ago I made this image to explain this a bit more Check it out here.

Key points of the example images below:

  • The person layer is put into Smart object and duplicated.
    • This way you can just edit the smart object contents once and both images update.
  • The first person layer is put in a Clipping mask with the circle.
  • The second person layer has it’s own Layer mask that masks out everything starting from the eyes.
    • Essentially the goal is to mask out the shoulders that would otherwise stick out, in this case anyways.
  • Both person layers are linked, so that they are easy to move, rotate and resize.

Example images below:

Every layer showing

enter image description here

Second person layer hidden

enter image description here

Every layer except the second person layer hidden

enter image description here

I cut out a part of the circle, cause my person over here had his torso cut too short.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x