Masking A-Z in Affinity Photo iPad

Masking is a technique in Affinity Photo for iPad to create different effects. There is a variety of ways to create masks, and this tutorial will show you some of the basics. We’ll start with an introduction to masking, how to create a layer mask and then move on to grey masks. After that, we’ll look at how to apply Adjustments and Filters selectively, Selections, Masks, and how to merge images by masking. Finally, we’ll take a look at Clipping masks. Let’s get started!

What is a layer mask in Affinity Photo iPad?

A layer mask is an additional channel added to a layer affecting how the layer appears. It creates colour transitions by revealing or hiding parts of an image.

Layer masks consist of pixels. Each pixel in a layer mask is set to either black, white, or any shade of grey in between. Black pixels will completely hide the layer they are masking, while white pixels will allow the layer to show through completely. Grey pixels will partially reveal the layer, depending on how light or dark the grey is.

Masking in Affinity Photo iPad is a great way to make subtle changes to an image, or to create more dramatic effects. In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to use layer masks in Affinity Photo for iPad.

There are two types of masks: Pixel masks and Vector masks.

  1. Pixel mask- A pixel mask is a type of erase tool works in the same way as the other types. However, it is possible to modify or even discard at any time.
  2. Vector mask- This entails using vector material as a mask over another layer cropped to the vector content’s outline.

How to Create a Mask and How It Works

Applying layer masking in Affinity Photo for iPad is easy.

There are two ways to create a mask layer from Layers Studio as follows,

  1. From the Mask menu, tap the “+” button to reveal a pop-up menu. Select Mask Layer from it.
  2. Tap the “+” button and choose Empty Mask Layer from the pop-up menu. The new mask will cover the entire layer, regardless of any existing selections.
  3. Adjust the Hardness, Flow, Opacity and Width from the Context Toolbar.
Masking A-Z in Affinity Photo iPad- masking using mask layer

Masks are applied non-destructively and supports to edit and move the layer freely. A mask layer has an impact on the layer/s beneath it in the Layers Studio. It is limited to a single layer or for Layer groups.

To conceal layers, you can use destructive filtering. Blur, sharpen, distortion, and noise are just a few examples of destructive filters useful to mask layers. You can also apply destructive filters to spare channels in addition to adjustment and live filter layers. Filled mask layers with layer properties such as adjustment layers, live filter layers are also useful.

Now that you know the basics of layer masks, let’s look at how to use them.

Grey Mask

A grey mask is a type of layer mask to create a soft transition between two colors. It is made of pixels set to various shades of grey. The lighter the pixel, the more the layer will show through. The darker the pixel, the less the layer will show through.

Grey masks blend different layers together in a smooth manner. For example, you might use a grey mask to fade an image into the background.

To create a grey mask, select the layer you want to mask and then click the “Add Mask” button at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will add a white mask to your layer. Next, select the Paint Brush tool and set your Foreground color to a shade of grey. Then, simply paint over the areas you want to hide. As you paint, the layer will fade into the background.

You can also use the Erase Brush tool to remove parts of a grey mask. Just select the tool and then erase away any parts of the mask that you don’t want.

If you want to adjust the opacity of a grey mask, simply double-tap on the mask in the Layers panel. This will bring up the Mask Options dialog box. From here, you can use the Opacity slider to adjust the opacity of the mask.

Adjustments and Live Filters in Affinity Photo iPad

In Affinity Photo for iPad, you can use layer masks with adjustment and live filter layers. Adjustment and live filter layers work non-destructively and they create interesting effects.

These are all equipped with a pre-built mask, to selectively edit the effect of an adjustment or a live filter. You can choose the colour white to reveal parts of the adjustment or live filter layer. On the other hand, black hides particular areas of an adjustment or a live filter layer.

To mask an adjustment layer:

  1. Select the Adjustment layer from the Layers Studio, then choose any preferred adjustment.
  2. To remove or erase the effect from parts of an image, select the Paint Brush Tool.
  3. Pick the colour black and paint over areas where you’d like to remove the adjustment layer from. Remember that painting with the colour white restores the adjustment layer fully, while shades of grey erase the effects only partly.
  4. If you wish to apply the adjustment as a gradient, select the Gradient tool from the Photo Persona and drag over the layer to apply a gradient mask. Adjust the colours of your gradient in the Colour Studio.
Masking A-Z in Affinity Photo iPad- apply adjustments

This is a great way to make targeted adjustments to an image.

Selections and Masks

In Affinity Photo for iPad Selections and Masking work together. Selections target a specific area of an image for editing, while masks take control to which parts of a layer are visible.

Go to the Selection Persona and choose the Smart Selection Brush to make the selection. Once the selection is applied, apply masking to the background photo.

Masking A-Z in Affinity Photo iPad- smart selection brush

For example, if the picture consists of a mountain scenario and the sky, you can apply a particular filter or adjustment to the sky only by making a selection.

Go to Adjustment Studio and apply a preferred adjustment. Then you can adjust the settings of the selected area through the bar at the bottom.

To deselect, tap once using two fingers.

In the layers panel, Mask is displayed as white to the areas selection is applied. This consist of the portion you changed. The colour of the remaining areas will be black.

That’s it! You’ve learned how to apply selections and masking in Affinity Photo!

Next, let’s see how you can merge images by masking.

Merging Images in Affinity Photo iPad

Masking is also a great way to merge two or more images together. For example, you can use a layer mask to make one image fade into another, and so on.

First choose two pictures and decide the content you wish to cut and paste onto another picture.

First, select the subject or part you wish to cut from the image by using the Selection persona. Next, refine the selection as much as possible and tap apply.

After you complete the selection, then tap onto the Mask layer icon placed on the bottom right to mask it. The selection automatically separate from the background and then select Deselect.

Now, copy the content and switch over to the other window which has your other picture and paste on the selected photo where you want to place it.

You can see the selected content onto your current window as well. Then, adjust the selected picture and place it on the desired place on the photo using the Move Tool.

That’s it! Now you know how to use layer masks in Affinity Photo for iPad to merge images.

Have fun exploring all the different ways you can use them in your photos and projects!

Clipping mask in Affinity Photo iPad

A clipping mask is an easy way to mask an image in Affinity Photo for iPad. A clipping mask is made up of two layers: a base layer and a top layer. The top layer creates the mask, and the base layer is clipped to the shape of the top layer.

A clipped layer is edited separately from its parent.

To create a clipping mask,

  • First select the layer you want to use as the base layer.
  • Tap-drag the layer on top of the one that will be clipped, then release it on the Layers Studio.
  • The clipped layer will be nested within the boundaries of the clipping layer.

To remove clipping mask:

  • Tap-and-drag the clipped layer away from the parent layer in the Layers Studio.


Masking can be used for various photo editing tasks in Affinity Photo for iPad. In this tutorial, we’ve looked at some of the most popular methods for masking an image. Whether it’s applying adjustments selectively, making selections and clipping layers together, know how to work with layer masks is extremely important. Experiment with these different masks to achieve great results!

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