Layer Masks To Create Fade Effects
By Mark Crensha
This tutorial will offer one way of fading effects across an image. In this case, a motion blur will be faded using a layer mask.
Step 1: Make sure the object you will blur is on it's own layer Figure 1. The objects in this tutorial are on their own layer, but a gray background has been added for ease of viewing.
Step 2: Make a copy of the layer you will be blurring. Call it "blur" and apply your motion blur (Figure 2). Call your original layer "clean." Place the blur layer above the clean layer.
If we were to use this image as is, the result would look like Figure 3. It is not much to look at.
Step 3: With your blur layer active, it is time to begin making our layer mask. Use your polygon selection tool and draw a trapezoid that will define the angle and direction of the fade (Figure 4).
Step 4: Click the "add layer mask" icon at the bottom of the layers palette. This will add an icon to your layer that represents the shape we drew. Alt+click this icon and it will display the mask in your image window. Ctrl+click the icon and it will select the mask. You should now have your mask selected in the image window (Figure 5).
Step 5: Select your gradient tool and with default colors (black and white), pull a gradient so that you have white at the top to black on bottom (Figure 6).
Step 6: Click on the blur layer RGB (image thumbnail) icon and you will see the result of the mask. Notice that from the bottom of the can to about half way up the mask, there is a hard line that shows the mask's edge. If you have this problem, alt+click your mask icon and apply a 4 or 5 pixel Guassian Blur to the mask. This will soften it enough to eliminate this edge (Figure 7).
Step 7: You can duplicate the blur layer to enhance the effect. Now add a background to make the effect more apparent (Figure 8).
Good luck and I hope you learned something about layer masks. Layer Masks are very useful and can be used for many other things. Next time you are trying to figure out an effect, consider layer masks. It just may be the answer.
Mark Crenshaw runs 212 Productions. This tutorial is ęcopyright 1999 and may not be republished elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the author.