Gradient Masks

Clive R. Haynes FRPS


When we need to gently merge two or more images, a most useful and elegant method is the 'Gradient Mask'.

The fusion of the merge, its intensity, direction and attribute (linear, radial etc) are all decided by which gradient one chooses and the opacity of the gradient itself.

How to make the mask

Have available two images

Image A
Image B
Place the image to receive the gradient mask on the layer above the Background (or lower) image ('B' over 'A' in example above)
Create a Layer Mask on the upper layer - click on Layer Mask icon at base of Layers palette
(see 'Layer Mask' link below - for more info if required)
(If you're uncertain about the layer mask icon, look next to the 'eye' icon on this layer and you should see a small, white circle inside a grey square. Should you see a 'brush' icon instead, click inside the layer mask thumbnail for this layer - this will activate the layer mask icon. When you return to work on the 'picture' and not the mask, the 'brush' icon must be visible - so click inside the image thumbnail for this layer)
The Layer Mask icon
Working with the Layer Mask just created and ensuring that the mask icon (not the brush icon), is present for this layer, select the Gradient Tool from the Toolbar (see below)
Left: the Gradient Tool on the Tool Bar

Set the f/g colour to black, the b/g colour to white

For this example, a 'Linear Gradient' was chosen however other gradient 'patterns' are quite applicable.

Choose Foreground to Background for the gradient option. (You could click on the pre-set 'Black - White' Gradient option if you prefer)

Set the opacity of the gradient


Applying the mask

Drag the cursor across the image - and behold a smooth transition from the upper image to reveal the lower

You may require several attempts to place the grad where you require it, to estimate it's transition and to set its opacity.

The extent of the Gradient on the Layer Mask will be seen in the Layer Mask thumbnail
Left: the Gradient applied to the Layer Mask and visible as a shaded area
The image above illustrates the application of a Gradient Mask to make a smooth, linear transition from one image to another
A Gradient (with 'Quick Mask') can also be very helpful in applying a filter effect gradually to an image -
see link below
For information about the use of Gradient Masks when applying a 'Drop Shadow' - click the link below.


Related Topics
Delving Deeper Into Layers
Layer Mask
Quick Mask - Applying a 'Filter'
Gradient Mask use with Drop Shadow
Know-How Contents
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