VSL Reader Help Requested. Clipping paths get more complicated in latest PhotoShop.

This is a measured plea for help. By measured I mean that I am not yet panicky but a bit frustrated. Maybe you can help with a clearer workflow for me.

Stuff I think I know:

There is no substitute for hand drawn paths with bezier curves for documents that will go to print.

There is no way to automate complex selections.

White on white is its own problem.

I know how to use the pen tool and how to create a path. In previous versions of PhotoShop, if you needed compound clipping paths (paths within a path or multiple paths in a file) you could draw one path hit the shift key and begin another path. And another. And another. Then you could click on each path and they would all work in concert to create a clipping path.

Not so anymore. Now I can create a new selection, see it in the work path icon (in the paths palette) but when I go to select the multiple paths I only get the first path or a subsequent path as my selection and not the multiple paths.

A good example would be a product with many holes through which you can see the background. In preparing for printer files each hole would have to be part of the overall clipping path. The primary clipping path would be the whole product (to clip it from the background) but I would need to create smaller clipped areas for each of the holes as part of the working path.

This is where I am stumbling. Not every file has these needs but enough of them do to make me grit my teeth.

My partner is working on an older version of PS and has no issue whatsoever producing as many smaller clipped areas inside the overall clipping path. None at all.

If you understand the clipping path workflow in PS CC 2017 I'd love to have the largess of your greater skill and brainpower.


P.S. I've searched for tutorials for hours. I can composite a fashion model on a background now but only if the composite doesn't require me to make paths inside of paths..... grrrrrrr. KT

Help us all understand this admittedly specialized part of the new PhotoShop!


  1. I have not done that. However my advice would be to call Adobe customer service. Explain your product used to do X, I am a subscription holder and need to know how the most up to date update handles this now.
    If they want to push udpates and be subscription model then they should be able to handle this question. Hopefully they can transfer you to a tech or coder whom knows what your talking about and how best to handle it.
    Good luck,

  2. Hi Kirk,
    Just read your post, this has tripped me up a few times... But i think you are meaning you want a compound path where individual elements within the path "knock out" so a hole through something.

    You want to select "exclude overlapping shapes" from the pen options.

    Or maybe I am understanding the issue wrong.

  3. Did you use the Path Selection Tool to select all the paths?
    Try it!

  4. GOAL!!! AND IT'S ODL FOR THE WIN. Get in touch with me and I'll send you an actual VSL T-shirt. Thanks! Worked.
    The other blogs may have more readers but I've got the smart ones....

  5. This blog and its author always make me smile. And I don't even use Photoshop (which isn't offered for my operating system of choice)...

  6. :) Glad to help, actually this issue creeps up every time Adobe updates Photoshop. It resets the settings and I end up with path elements that won't knock out.

    In fact, it happened on the file I sent you :) When it does, I simply select the overlapping path elements and convert to selection, manually delete the relevant sections so I have a finished image.

    You can also paste the path elements into a new path layer, change their "type" to exclude, and paste them back into your main path.

  7. Oh man am I glad I don't have to do that kind of work. In about 1 hour the computer would be out the window in a snow drift, I would have a migraine and the bottle of single malt scotch would be out.

  8. Eric, I've been eyeing that bottle of Milam Bourbon sitting in the dining room since at least lunch time. We now have light at the end of the tunnel....

  9. Great to see that a community actually can work :-)!

    Enjoy your futher "pathing", Kirk ...

  10. Not that I'm old or un-computerised, but surely one reaches for the 8x10 neg, with the photo-opaque bottle and the red tape next to your retouching screen?


  11. Great to see you getting something back from all the hours put in to this blog!

  12. I have had the opportunity to stare at 91 files enlarged to 100 and 200% from the combination of the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro (shot at f8) and the Panasonic GH5. The files, shot at ISO 200, are absolutely great, the color is neutral, and the extra depth of field made my job in post that much easier. All in all, a good (though counter-intuitive) combination for product photograph!!!


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