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Gradient Clipping Masks in Adobe Photoshop

Using a gradient fill to define the transparency of an image By Dave Nagel
I get asked fairly regularly how to fade the opacity of an image--let to right, top to bottom, center to edges. The answer is to be found in gradients, but there are several ways to do it. You can apply a gradient in Quick Mask mode; you can use a layer's blending options to merge it with an underlying gradient; or you can use a much more effective method, one that's both editable and non-destructive to your image.

This technique is a fairly basic one, but I'll give you a step by step for those of you unfamiliar with the use of gradients. In short, we'll be creating a gradient fill layer and grouping our original image with it to create a clipping mask, giving us this sort of effect.

Here's how it works.

Convert the background layer
First, if you're working with a flat image, you'll need to convert the background layer to a regular layer. To do this, simply double-click the background in the Layers palette. A dialog will pop up asking you to name the new layer; click OK, and you're done.

Create your gradient fill layer
Now you need to create a gradient layer. To do this, choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. Click OK in the new dialog that pops up.

A new dialog will pop up asking you to select the gradient to be used in the new fill layer. You can choose any gradient style, as long as a portion of the gradient is transparent. The colors within the gradient themselves don't matter; only their opacity matters for this purpose. When we're done, the solid portions of the gradient are where your image will be visible; the transparent areas will be where the image is transparent. For my example, I'll choose a Linear gradient with an angle of 0 degrees, which will cause my gradient to go from black on the left of the image to white on the right.

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Related Keywords:adobe photoshop, gradients, clipping mask, gradient transparency, gradient opacity


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