Master Figma Masking: Step-by-Step Guide to Create and Apply Masks
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


1. Figma Masking Basics

2. Creating Masks in Figma

3. Applying Masks in Figma

4. Advanced Figma Masking Techniques

5. Troubleshooting Figma Masking Issues

Master the art of Figma masking with this step-by-step guide! Figma masking is a powerful design tool that allows you to create stunning visuals and control the display of elements in your designs. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced designer, this guide will help you understand the basics, create masks, and apply advanced techniques to elevate your designs to the next level. Let's dive into the world of Figma masking!

1. Figma Masking Basics

Before we start creating and applying masks, let's get a solid understanding of what Figma masking is, its common use cases, and the key principles behind it.

Understanding Masks in Figma

A mask is a design element that controls the visibility of other elements within a specific shape or area. Think of it as a window that reveals only a part of the content beneath it. Figma masking is a feature that allows you to create these "windows" and apply them to your design elements, such as shapes, images, and text.

Some benefits of using masks in your designs include:

  • Enhancing visual appeal with creative shapes and effects.
  • Controlling the display of content for better user experiences.
  • Efficiently managing complex design elements and layers.

Common Use Cases for Figma Masking

Now that you have a basic understanding of Figma masking, let's look at some common use cases where masks can come in handy:

  1. Clipping images: Use masks to crop and fit images into custom shapes, such as circles or polygons.
  2. Text overlays: Apply masks to text elements to create visually appealing text overlays on images or gradients.
  3. Interactive elements: Create engaging user interfaces by using masks to reveal hidden content or animations on hover or click events.
  4. Visual effects: Combine masks with gradients, blending modes, or filters to create unique visual effects and transitions.

Key Principles of Figma Masking

To make the most of Figma masking, keep these key principles in mind:

  • Mask shape: The mask shape determines the visible area of the content beneath it. The content outside the mask's boundaries is hidden.
  • Layer order: In Figma, the mask must be placed right above the elements it's intended to mask—this creates a parent-child relationship between the mask and the masked elements.
  • Grouping: To apply a mask to multiple elements, group them together and place the mask above the group in the layers panel.
  • Adjustability: You can easily modify the mask or the masked content by editing the mask shape, position, or size, ensuring flexibility in your design process.

With these basics covered, you're ready to explore the world of Figma masking and start creating and applying masks to elevate your designs!

2. Creating Masks in Figma

Now that you've got the foundations of Figma masking down, let's dive into the actual process of creating masks. We'll explore how to create masks for various design elements, including shapes, images, and text. By the end of this section, you'll be able to confidently create and apply masks in your own designs!

Masking Shapes and Objects

When it comes to Figma masking, shapes are the most common elements used as masks. You can create masks using basic shapes, such as rectangles and circles, or more complex custom shapes using Figma's vector tools. Here's how you can create a mask using shapes:

  1. Draw the desired shape that will serve as the mask. For instance, you can use the Rectangle tool (R) or the Ellipse tool (O) for basic shapes.
  2. Select the shape and the object(s) you want to mask—ensure the shape is positioned directly above the object(s) in the layers panel.
  3. Right-click on the shape and choose "Use as Mask" or press CTRL+ALT+M (CMD+OPT+M on Mac). Voilà! You've created a mask using a shape.

Remember, you can always adjust the mask shape, position, or size to fine-tune your design.

Masking Images and Photos

Using Figma masking for images and photos can help you create stunning visuals and interesting compositions. Follow these simple steps to apply a mask to an image:

  1. Import the image you want to mask into your Figma file using the "Place Image" option or by simply dragging and dropping the file.
  2. Create the shape or custom vector that will serve as the mask—ensure it's placed directly above the image in the layers panel.
  3. Select both the mask shape and the image, right-click on the shape, and choose "Use as Mask" or press CTRL+ALT+M (CMD+OPT+M on Mac).

And that's it! You've successfully masked an image in Figma. Feel free to experiment with different mask shapes and positions to achieve the desired effect.

Masking Text Elements

Applying Figma masking to text elements can lead to eye-catching text overlays and unique typography effects. Here's how to create a mask for text:

  1. Type the text you want to mask using the Text tool (T) and format it as desired (e.g., font, size, and color).
  2. Create the shape or custom vector that will act as the mask—again, ensure it's positioned directly above the text layer.
  3. Select both the mask shape and the text layer, right-click on the shape, and choose "Use as Mask" or press CTRL+ALT+M (CMD+OPT+M on Mac).

Now you've successfully applied a mask to a text element! Feel free to play around with different mask shapes and positions to create stunning text effects.

With these techniques in your toolbox, you're ready to move on to applying masks and using advanced Figma masking techniques to enhance your designs even further!

3. Applying Masks in Figma

Great job on mastering the process of creating masks! Let's keep the momentum going as we explore how to apply and manipulate masks in Figma. In this section, we'll cover working with masking layers, applying effects to masks, and incorporating masking interactions and animations. Ready to level up your Figma masking skills? Let's dive in!

Working with Masking Layers

Layers play a vital role in Figma masking, as they determine the stacking order and relationships between your design elements. Here are some key points to remember when working with masking layers:

  • Masks should be positioned above the layers they affect—Place the masking shape directly above the layers you want to mask in the layers panel. Remember, a mask can affect multiple layers simultaneously.
  • Grouping and nesting are your friends—Organize your layers by grouping (CMD+G or CTRL+G) and nesting them within frames. This not only keeps your layers panel tidy but also helps you better control and apply masks.
  • Managing clipping and overflow—Figma masking can help you manage elements that overflow their bounding boxes. Simply create a mask around the desired visible area, and everything outside the mask remains hidden.

Understanding and managing layers is crucial for successful Figma masking. Keep practicing and experimenting to find the best methods for your projects!

Applying Effects to Masks

Did you know that you can apply effects to your masks in Figma? This adds an extra layer of creativity and versatility to your designs. Here's how you can apply effects to your Figma masks:

  1. Select the mask layer you want to apply the effect to.
  2. In the right panel, click on the "+" icon next to "Effects".
  3. Choose the desired effect (e.g., drop shadow, inner shadow, layer blur, or background blur) and adjust the settings as needed.

There you have it! You've now applied an effect to your mask. Feel free to experiment with different effects and settings to create stunning visuals and make your designs stand out.

Masking Interactions and Animations

One of the coolest aspects of Figma masking is its ability to be used in conjunction with interactions and animations. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for your designs. Here are some ideas for incorporating Figma masking into your interactions and animations:

  • Reveal effects—Create a mask that gradually reveals an object as the user scrolls, hovers, or clicks. This can add an engaging, dynamic element to your design.
  • Animated masks—Animate the mask shape itself to create interesting transitions or visual effects. For example, you could have a circular mask expand and contract to draw attention to a specific element.
  • Masking in prototypes—Incorporate masks into your Figma prototypes to create realistic, interactive experiences for user testing and presentations.

By combining Figma masking with interactions and animations, you can create truly unique and engaging designs that will impress your clients and users alike. Keep experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what's possible!

Now that you've learned to apply masks in Figma, it's time to explore some advanced techniques to take your designs to the next level. Are you ready? Let's go!

4. Advanced Figma Masking Techniques

Now that you're familiar with the basics of Figma masking and how to apply masks, it's time to level up your skills with some advanced techniques. In this section, we'll explore using gradients, blending modes, and vector editing in Figma masking. Ready to push the boundaries of your designs? Let's dive in!

Using Gradients in Figma Masking

Gradients can add depth, visual interest, and a touch of sophistication to your Figma masking projects. Here's how to incorporate gradients into your masks:

  • Create a gradient-filled shape—Select the shape you want to use as a mask and apply a gradient fill by clicking on the "Fill" property in the right panel. Choose "Linear," "Radial," or "Angular" gradient, and adjust the colors and direction as needed.
  • Apply the mask—Once your gradient-filled shape is ready, follow the masking process you've already learned. Position the shape above the layer you want to mask, select both layers, and then click "Use as Mask" in the right-click menu.

By incorporating gradients into your Figma masking projects, you can create visually stunning designs that capture users' attention and keep them engaged. Go ahead, give it a try!

Blending Modes and Figma Masking

Blending modes can add an extra dimension to your Figma masking projects by altering how masked layers interact with each other. Here's a quick guide to using blending modes in your masks:

  • Select the masked layer—Click on the layer that has been masked (not the mask itself) to access its properties in the right panel.
  • Choose a blending mode—In the right panel, look for the "Blend Mode" dropdown menu. Select a blending mode, such as "Multiply," "Screen," or "Overlay," to see how it affects the interaction between the mask and the masked layer.

Experimenting with blending modes in your Figma masking projects can lead to unique and eye-catching designs that truly stand out. Don't be afraid to try different combinations to see what works best for you!

Vector Editing and Masking

Vector editing allows you to create custom shapes and paths for your Figma masks, giving you even more control over your designs. Let's look at how you can use vector editing in your Figma masking projects:

  • Create a custom vector shape—Select the "Pen" tool (P) and start drawing your custom shape by clicking on the canvas to create anchor points. Close the shape by clicking on the initial anchor point, or press "Enter" to create an open path.
  • Edit your vector shape—Use the "Move" (V) or "Direct Selection" (A) tools to adjust the position of anchor points, create curves, or add new points to your shape.
  • Apply the mask—Once your custom vector shape is ready, follow the same Figma masking process you've already learned to create and apply the mask to your desired layers.

By harnessing the power of vector editing, you can create intricate and precise Figma masks that truly elevate your designs. Keep experimenting and practicing to unlock your full potential!

You've now reached the end of our journey through advanced Figma masking techniques. With these new skills under your belt, your designs are bound to impress and captivate your audience. But what if you encounter issues along the way? Don't worry, we've got you covered in the next section: Troubleshooting Figma Masking Issues. Stay tuned!

5. Troubleshooting Figma Masking Issues

As you venture deeper into the world of Figma masking, it's only natural to encounter a few bumps in the road. Fear not, fellow designer! In this section, we'll tackle some common Figma masking issues and provide you with practical solutions to get your project back on track. Let's dive in and troubleshoot some Figma masking problems together.

Common Figma Masking Errors

Like with any design tool, mistakes can happen while using Figma masking. Here are some common errors you might run into:

  • Accidental unmasking: If you've inadvertently unmasked a layer, simply reapply the mask following the steps we've previously covered. Be mindful of your layer selections and actions to avoid this in the future.
  • Masking the wrong layer: If you find that you've masked the wrong layer, just undo your action (Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z) and reapply the mask to the correct layer. Always double-check your layer selections before applying a mask.
  • Invisible masked content: If your masked content seems to have disappeared, make sure the mask layer itself is not completely transparent or filled with the same color as your background. Adjust the mask's fill and opacity to reveal the content.

By being aware of these common errors and knowing how to fix them, you'll be better equipped to handle any Figma masking mishaps that come your way.

Quick Fixes for Masking Issues

Sometimes, all you need is a quick fix to get your Figma masking project back on track. Here are some speedy solutions for common issues:

  • Adjusting mask boundaries: If your mask is cutting off content or not covering the desired area, simply resize the mask layer by selecting it and dragging its bounding box handles. This will give you precise control over your mask's dimensions.
  • Reordering layers: If your masked content is appearing in the wrong order or stacking incorrectly, try rearranging the layers in the Layers panel. This can help you achieve the desired visual hierarchy in your design.
  • Resetting mask properties: If you've accidentally applied unwanted effects or properties to your mask, reset them by selecting the mask layer, right-clicking, and choosing "Reset Instance" from the context menu. This will revert your mask to its original state.

With these quick fixes in your Figma masking toolkit, you'll be ready to tackle any issues that arise and keep your project moving forward smoothly.

Figma Masking Best Practices

To minimize potential issues and ensure a smooth Figma masking experience, it's essential to follow some best practices. Here are some tips to help you master Figma masking:

  • Organize your layers: Keep your layers panel tidy by grouping related layers, naming them clearly, and using color tags. This will make it easier to manage your masks and masked content.
  • Use layer visibility: Toggle layer visibility on and off to focus on specific parts of your design or to troubleshoot issues. This can help you identify masking problems and work more efficiently.
  • Work with components: When using Figma masking in complex designs, consider creating components for your masks and masked content. This will help you maintain consistency across your project and make it easier to update your designs.

By adhering to these Figma masking best practices, you'll set yourself up for success and create more professional, polished designs in no time.

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide to mastering Figma masking, from the basics to advanced techniques, and even troubleshooting common issues. You're now equipped with the knowledge and skills to create stunning designs that captivate your audience. So go forth, fellow designer, and conquer the world of Figma masking!

If you enjoyed our step-by-step guide on mastering Figma masking and want to dive deeper into the world of Figma, don't miss the workshop 'Start Designing in Figma' by Tetiana Gulei. This workshop will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Figma and its powerful features, helping you to become a pro at designing stunning visuals for your projects.