Photoshop: Inverted vector layer mask created via Alt+Shift drag works as such, but shows as not inverted

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  • Problem
  • Updated 2 years ago
  • (Edited)
When Alt+Shift dragging a mask from one layer to another in the Layers Palette (be it a pixel mask or a vector mask), the mask is copied from one layer to the other and inverted at the same time. For a long time, I thought this was not working for vector masks, but yesterday I found it indeed is too... but I think it's done in a confusing way, because one can't tell just by looking at the vector mask thumbnail or checking the operation mode of the path components.

I mean that while the pixel layer masks are clearly inverted when Alt+Shift dragging (the mask thumbnail is inverted), the vector layer masks thumbnails aren't - I mean, they really do work the opposite of the original, but the copied-inverted version displays the same mask thumbnail as the original not inverted one, and the path component keep showing the same operation mode as the original if inspected with the Path selection tool. I think this is prone to create confusion.

If you look at the attached screen capture 1.png you'll understand what I mean:



Layers palette, bottom to top:

- White background: pixel layer filled with white. Just a background color.

- A (regular vector mask): A pixel layer filled with red, then vector-masked with a closed path created in Combine mode. As expected, red shows through the inside of the vector mask area.

- B (A alt shift dragged): A pixel layer filled with blue, with a vector mask that is the result of Alt+Shift dragging the vector mask from layer A to layer B. This Alt+Shift dragged vector mask works in B as if it was in Substract mode, showing blue outside of the mask. But in the mask thumbnail it's shown the same as the vector mask from layer A (white inside, grey outside), and if inspected with the path selection tool, it shows also as being in Combine operation mode (but it's working as if it was in Substract mode).

For further clarification, if I right click on the vector mask thumbnails an rasterize the masks to pixels, I get scren capture 2.png, where you'll see that, indeed, I get to see that the masks were inverted versions of each other:



Is this really intended behavior? The ability to copy and invert a vector mask at the same time is useful, but I find it odd that while the Alt+Shift dragged mask seems to be the inverse of the original one, there's no way to know unless I rasterize the mask. Am I missing something, I mean, is there some "hidden" attribute inverting the behaviour of the operation mode?

(Sorry for the long explanation, but this was trickier to explain than I thought...)

Thanks for any clarification, or for considering introducing a less confusing way to do this in future versions.
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Carlos Oliveras

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  • unsure

Posted 3 years ago

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Photo of Carlos Oliveras

Carlos Oliveras

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I would appreciate it if anyone could at least confirm they can reproduce these results...
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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I can confirm the result - but I'm not sure if it's a bug. I'll need to investigate it a bit more.