Create complex masks with the Draw Mask effect

You can use the powerful Draw Mask effect to create a complex custom mask using control points and spline drawing methods. You can also convert a Shape Mask to a Draw Mask, to take advantage of its sophisticated controls.

Create a complex mask with the Draw Mask effect

The instructions below explain how to create a mask using a Bezier spline, the default shape type. If you prefer to draw your mask with linear or B-Spline shapes, you can adjust this setting in the Video inspector before you get started. For more information, see Add and delete control points.

  1. Add the clip you want to mask to the Timeline.

    Note: If you want to composite the clip over a background clip, you must use connected clips. For more information, see Connect clips to add cutaway shots, titles, and synchronized sound effects.

  2. Select the clip in the Timeline and position the playhead at a point within the clip that shows the area you want to make transparent.

  3. To open the Effects Browser, click the Effects button in the toolbar (or press Command-5).

    Effects button in toolbar
  4. In the Effects Browser, select the Draw Mask effect.

    Tip: To quickly find the Draw Mask effect, type “draw mask” in the Effects Browser’s search field.

  5. To apply the mask effect to the clip selected in the Timeline, do one of the following:

    • Drag the effect to the Timeline clip.

    • Double-click the effect thumbnail in the Effects Browser.

  6. In the Viewer, click to add a control point.

    A red dot with a white center (indicating a selected control point) appears where you clicked.

    Viewer showing a control point and the pointer in Draw Mask mode
  7. To add points to further define the shape, do one of the following:

    • Click to make a linear corner point.

      Viewer showing linear corner point
    • Drag to make a curved Bezier point, adjusting it to the shape you want.

      Viewer showing curved Bezier point

    Press Shift while making a curved point to constrain its tangents to 45-degree angles. Press Command–Equal Sign (=) to zoom in for a closer look and Command-Hyphen (-) to zoom out.

  8. Continue adding more control points in the Viewer to create your detailed mask shape.

    Red lines appear in the Viewer, connecting the control points.

    Viewer showing a partially-completed mask with control points and red lines
  9. To complete the initial mask shape, click the original control point.

    The area outside the mask shape is filled with solid black, representing the transparent area. If you added a background clip using connected clips, the background image shows through this transparent area.

    Viewer showing closed mask with control points, surrounded by black transparent area
  10. To adjust the mask, do any of the following :

    • To visually manipulate the mask in the Viewer: Drag the onscreen controls in the Viewer.

    • To show or hide onscreen controls and control points in the Viewer: Click the Draw Mask Onscreen Controls button in the Draw Mask section of the Video inspector.

    • To make precise numeric adjustments, including keyframing: Modify the mask settings in the Draw Mask section of the Video inspector.

Create a complex mask by converting the Shape Mask to control points

You can refine the contours of a Shape Mask by converting it to a Draw Mask with editable control points that allow you to adjust shape and curvature.

  1. Add a Shape Mask effect to a clip in the Timeline.

    The Shape Mask onscreen controls appear in the Viewer.

    Viewer showing default onscreen controls for Shape Mask: a partially feathered ellipse shape in the center of the frame
  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click Convert to Points at the bottom of the Shape Mask section of the Video inspector.

    • Control-click the Shape Mask onscreen controls in the Viewer, then choose Convert to Points from the shortcut menu.

    Red control points appear in the Viewer, in place of the Shape Mask onscreen controls. In the Video inspector, the Shape Mask section changes to a Draw Mask section.

    Viewer showing a closed mask  with red control points in a partially feathered ellipse shape

    Note: If you animated the Radius or Curvature parameter in the original Shape Mask, a dialog appears asking you to confirm the conversion. The animation is discarded after the shape is converted.

  3. To adjust the mask, do any of the following:

    • To visually manipulate the mask in the Viewer: Drag the control points in the Viewer.

    • To show or hide onscreen controls and control points in the Viewer: Click the Draw Mask Onscreen Controls button in the Draw Mask section of the Video inspector.

    • To make precise numeric adjustments, including keyframing: Modify the mask settings in the Draw Mask section of the Video inspector.

Note: After control points become available, you cannot convert the mask back to a simple shape mask.