Is it possible to subtract one layer from another in photoshop?

Is there a way to take two layers of the same size and make the bottom layer transparent everywhere where the top layer isn’t transparent? Basically, I want to cut a hole into the bottom layer that has the same shape as the top one. The layers are pixel-based if that makes a difference.


You can easily achieve this by using a mask on the second layer that is the same shape as the first layer like so:

  • Ctrl + Click on the first layer to select it’s contents
  • Click on the second layer then click the bottom Add layer mask button
  • Click on the mask and hit Ctrl+i

The way these masks work is that it hides the parts of the layer that you don’t want without damaging the layer.

Black = hidden

White = visible

PS: Ctrl+click on the mask shows only the contents of the mask (like I did in the example below when you can only see the light bulb in b&w). Ctrl+click again to come back to normal.

PS: PS: You can disable the mask without deleting it by Shift+clicking on it. Do the same to enable it again

enter image description here

Joonas’s note in the comments:

Incase someone who is working with Shape layers finds this, it should be mentioned that this isn’t the way you’d actually want to do it. If you have Shape layers, merge both layers and use Path operations or a Vector mask.

Source : Link , Question Author : Guest65i7 , Answer Author : Alin

Leave a Comment