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MASKS: Clipping Masks

In Fireworks you can apply two kinds of masks: clipping masks and alpha masks. Clipping masks work like cookie cutters, clipping the underlying objects to the shape of the mask. Alpha masks affect the visibility of underlying objects. They are made with grayscale gradients that tell Fireworks how much to blend the underlying pixels with the pixels of the background. If you want to fade one image into another or make part of an image invisible, you use an alpha mask. You'll experiment with a clipping mask in this exercise.

  • Choose File > Open
  • Browse to the PVII_PhotoMagic directory on your hard drive.
  • Locate the green_glass.jpg file and click on it to select it.
  • Click on Open

green glass image

Now that the image is open, you’ll draw a series of shapes over it.

  • Click on the Rectangle tool to select it.
  • Click in the Fill Color bucket on the Property inspector to open the Swatches pop-up.
  • Select the white swatch.
  • Click in the Stroke Color box on the Property inspector to open the Swatches pop-up.
  • Select the Black swatch.
  • Set the Stroke type to Basic > Soft Rounded.
  • Set the Stroke width to 3.

The Soft Rounded stroke will keep the edges of the shapes smooth, and preserve the path of the spiral you’ll draw later.

shapes flyout
Figure2: The Shapes flyout in the Tools panel

  • Click on the vector Rectangle tool and drag out an 100 pixel wide by 100 pixel high square.If necessary, adjust the dimensions of the square by entering the correct values into the W and H boxes of the Property inspector (PI).
  • Press Enter to set the size.
  • With the square still selected, double click in the Rectangle Roundness box on the PI, type the number 30, and then press Enter.
  • Select the Star Auto Shape and drag out a 124 wide by 124 pixel high star.
  • Select the Doughnut Auto Shape and drag out a 120 W by 120 H doughnut.
  • Select the Spiral Auto Shape and drag out a 150 W spiral.

You’ll need to close the spiral shape to use it as a mask. To close the spiral, Click on the yellow adjustment point in the middle of the Spiral.

  • Fill the closed spiral shape with white.
  • Select the Arrow Auto Shape and drag out a 144W by 96H arrow.

Figure3: Drawing shapes for a clipping mask

Next, you’ll join the shapes together to create composite path.

  • Press Shift and select all of the shapes.
  • Choose Modify > Combine Paths > Join.

To use the Composite path as a Clipping Mask,

  • Press Shift and click on the thumbnails for the Composite Path and the Bitmap in the Layers panel.
  • Choose Modify > Mask > Group as Mask.

creating the mask group
Figure4: creating the mask group

Result: the green glass image is clipped to the shapes in the Composite Path. The shapes look like they’ve been cut from semi-precious stone. You can enhance that illusion by punching up the color and adding a bevel. Begin by adding a canvas color.

  • Click on an empty spot on the canvas to bring up the Canvas Fill color box on the Property inspector.
  • Select a color swatch, or sample a color from one of the shapes.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the thumbnail of the Composite path/ Clipping Mask.

Both the mask thumbnail and actual mask will become highlighted in green.

  • Click on the Add Live Filters button [+] on the PI and choose Adjust Color > Brightness/Contrast
  • Set both levels to around 13.
  • Click OK to accept the changes and close the Brightness/Contrast dialog box.

To add a subtle bevel to the shapes,

  • With the mask still selected, reopen the Live Filters menu and choose Shadow and Glow > Inner Shadow.
  • Set the shadow distance to 5, the opacity to 65%, the softness to 3, the angle to 113, and the color to black.

Figure5: the masked glass image