Getting the perfect shot is way harder than making the perfect shot. To make one, you need image editing or graphic design. And in that world, background removal is a must. But whenever we discuss the correct background removal method, the debate of clipping path vs. image masking is sure to happen.

To be fair, clipping path and image masking are the two most common methods of BG removal, so everyone will have a favorite. But this article isn’t about us telling you which is the better one. Instead, we will look at what they are, where to use them, the tools you need, and some pros and cons.

Afterward, we will tell you HOW you can decide which one to go with. We will cover a few other things, but we can get to them once we cover the things we mentioned above.

Clipping Path

Clipping Path

Explanation of Clipping Path

The Clipping Path is a technique that involves manually drawing a vector path around the subject or object you want to keep in the image. This path essentially “clips” the subject from its original background, allowing it to be placed on a new background or used in various design contexts. Clipping paths are usually created using software like Adobe Photoshop.

Suitable Scenarios for Clipping Path

Clipping Path is most effective when dealing with objects with well-defined edges and a relatively simple or uniform background. It is ideal for products with sharp, distinct shapes and clear boundaries. For instance, it works exceptionally well with items like books, boxes, or other geometric shapes where precise selection is essential.

Tools and Software for Clipping Path

To make a Clipping Path, use image editing tools such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. These programs provide the necessary tools and features for creating precise paths around the subject. Photoshop, for instance, offers the Pen Tool, the most commonly used for creating Clipping Paths.

Pros and Cons of Clipping Path


  • Precision: Clipping Path offers pixel-level precision, allowing you to achieve an exact selection of the subject.
  • Simplicity: The technique is relatively easy to learn, making it accessible to many users.
  • Fast Processing: With practice, Clipping Path can be a quick method for background removal, especially for simple subjects.


  • Complex Objects: It may not be suitable for objects with intricate, fine details or irregular shapes.

Examples of Clipping Paths in Practice

Clipping path is used in several areas, but it’s most often seen in e-commerce, advertisement and marketing, web design, etc. To give you a clearer picture, here are some examples of when to use a clipping path:

  • Clipping paths are commonly used in e-commerce to remove the background from product images. This helps create a clean and professional look, allowing the product to stand out. Read the beginner tutorial on e-commerce image editing to get a head start.
  • A clipping path can be applied to highlight specific elements or subjects in advertising materials, such as brochures, flyers, and banners. This ensures that the focus remains on the intended content.
  • Website designers often use clipping paths to optimize images for web pages. By removing unwanted backgrounds, images can seamlessly integrate into the website’s overall design.

Image Masking

Image Masking

Explanation of Image Masking

Image Masking is another background removal technique that involves creating a mask to separate the subject from the background. Unlike Clipping Path, which relies on vector paths, Image Masking uses pixel-level masks to define the areas to be kept or removed. Image editing software like Adobe Photoshop provides various masking tools, including Layer Masks, Alpha Channels, and Quick Masks.

Suitable Scenarios for Image Masking

Image Masking is particularly useful when dealing with complex subjects with fine details, such as hair or fur, or when the subject’s edges are not well-defined against the background. It’s an excellent choice when precision is required, but the subject presents challenges for traditional selection methods.

Tools and Software for Image Masking

Adobe Photoshop is the go-to software for Image Masking due to its wide range of masking tools. You can use Layer Masks, Alpha Channels, and similar features to create detailed and precise masks.

Pros and Cons of Image Masking


  • Fine Detail Handling: Image Masking excels in preserving fine details, such as hair or fur, making it ideal for portraits and subjects with intricate textures.
  • Versatility: Image Masking provides different techniques for masking. Pick the one that works best for your project.
  • Non-Destructive Editing: Masking techniques like Layer Masks are non-destructive, enabling you to adjust the mask or make changes without altering the original image.


  • Learning Curve: Achieving proficiency in masking techniques may require more time and practice than Clipping Path.

Examples of Image Masking in Practice

If you wanted to, you could use image masking to do the same task we mentioned for clipping paths. Still, it’s more useful for portrait photography, collages, and special effects. Just like clipping path, here are some examples to give you a better idea of when you should image masking:

  • When you have a subject with complex hair or intricate details, Image Masking can help create a precise selection while retaining the natural, organic look of the subject.
  • While making a collage, you can overlap images with irregular shapes. Image masking allows you to blend these images without requiring rectangular or square boundaries.
  • In film or video production, image masking is used to apply special effects, such as making a character or object disappear or appear gradually.

Things to Consider When Selecting the Right Approach

After reading all that above, you should understand what clipping path and image masking is, but now you need to figure out which is best for you. The best method for deciding the winner of Clipping Path vs. Image Masking is to try them out.

But as you do, several factors will come into play that you should consider when choosing the suitable method for yourself. These factors are:

Complexity of the Object

Consider the complexity of the subject you’re working with. Clipping Path might be the more efficient choice if it’s a product with well-defined edges. However, Image Masking is likely the better option for subjects with intricate details like hair or fur.

Complexity of the Background

Both the subject and the background matter in a picture. If the background is plain, using a Clipping Path is effective. However, suppose the background has intricate textures or patterns. In that case, Image Masking is a better choice because it preserves the fine details of the background.

Time and Budget Constraints

The time and money you have for your project are important factors in deciding which method you will go for. For simpler projects, Clipping Path is usually faster and more affordable. But if your project is more complicated and you want top-notch results, Image Masking might take longer, but it could be the right choice.

Skill Level and Experience

Think about your abilities and how much you’ve worked with images. If you’re just starting with image editing, it might be easier to begin with Clipping Path because it’s simpler. Image Masking methods can be tricky for beginners, but they’re valuable skills to learn if you’re more experienced.

Desired Output Quality

Ultimately, what really matters is how good your final result looks. Suppose you’re working on something that needs super accuracy, like taking pictures of people for work or showcasing fancy products. In that case, you should go for Image Masking. But if you’re in a hurry and your project can handle it, using Clipping Path might be enough.

Best Practices and Tips

Quality Assurance

No matter which method you go for, it’s vital to check the quality of your work. Always zoom in and closely examine your project, ensuring you’re at 100% magnification or even higher. This helps ensure that the edges look neat and there are no leftover bits or marks from the background.

File Format Considerations

Think about how you’ll use your picture before picking the correct file format. Use formats like PNG or TIFF with alpha channels if your image has see-through parts. But if your image has a solid background, using JPEG could be better, especially for the web.

Collaboration with Professionals

When working on important projects, consider teaming up with experts skilled in removing backgrounds like us,  Clipping Path Finder. We know how to handle challenging tasks and can provide top-notch results based on our experience and expertise.

Staying Updated with Tools and Techniques

Keep up with the changes in image editing tools and methods. Stay informed about the newest features in software such as Adobe Photoshop. This will not only enhance your efficiency but also improve the overall quality of your work.


In the image editing and graphics design industry, background removal is important in determining how good the final work will be. This is why the clipping path vs. image masking debate is so common. The two are the most common methods of background removal. After reading this article, have you decided which one to go for?

It matters which one you choose because both have specific uses and pros and cons. While testing the methods, you should consider the factors we mentioned because it will help you make a better choice. Keep our best practices in mind to improve your work even more.