Copying Masks To Shape Layers

The simple act of copying and pasting an existing mask onto a Shape Layer in After Effects can be tricky and frustrating. The key is to only select the Mask Path parameter before copying and only the Path parameter when pasting. Jeff Almasol has also created a cool script.

  1. Jeff Almasol

    If you want to create a new shape layer from the selected layer’s masks, you can also try this script:

  2. Harry

    Also, CS3 now allows expressions that connect masks to paths. So, you can create an expression for Shape Path and pickwhip a layer Mask.

  3. Ryan

    Is it possible to create a mask(w/solid) from a shape layer path?

    • John Dickinson

      Hi Ryan, you can copy a shape layer created using the Pen Tool. Select the path by twirling down the Shape Layer until you see the “path” property with the stopwatch. Click the work “path” to select the ibeam, and copy. Create a solid layer with a new mask on it, select the mask and paste. Best wishes, John.

  4. Alex


    Related to this post. I have a very complicated design made in illustrator. I used pen paths with stroke to create a maze-like design with the corners set to Miter Join. (you can see an example of the design on the background of my website

    It’s easy enough to copy and paste those paths in after effects, but the normal “stroke” effect wont do Miter Join’d corners. Theoretically, i COULD use the technique mentioned above but with hundreds of mask paths that could take DAYS just to do that copy and paste function. And the script looks like it takes each Mask Path and makes it into a stand alone Shape Layer.

    Q: How do i take about 200 mask paths from one solid layer and place them into a path under a single shape layer QUICKLY? Scripts? Please help!

    • Jeroen Schellekens

      Hi Alex, mentioned the masks-to-shape script DOES create 1 Shape layer and adds all the masks from your copy-pasted Illustrator object layer into it.

      So one layer with 50 masks copied from Ai converted using that script results in one Shape layer with 1 path group containing 50 paths.

      Just try it out!

      • Alex

        Hey Jeroen,

        I feel silly because shortly after I posted that comment I tried it and to my surprise, it worked the way I wanted. You can see the result here:

        Thanks again for your help! This tip was a life saver 🙂


  5. Maya

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!! I was ready to cry haha

  6. Andreas Toth

    Ah, this is exactly the information I was looking for! Thank you.

    My problem is that I keep drawing a mask when I want to draw a new shape or vice versa mostly because unwittingly have a layer selected. In the past I have always had to start over, which is such a waste of time, but this gets around that. The only thing to watch out for are differences in scale between source and destination. There may be other factors, too, but this is the only issue I have found thus far.

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