I am trying to create a feathered selection in Fireworks that fades to a transparent background. What is the best way to do this?

I am trying to create a gradient fill that goes from a color to transparent, much like the gradient options "foreground to transparent" or "background to transparent" that can be created in Photoshop. How is this done in Fireworks?


Fireworks allows the user to create a vector shape that can be used as an image mask for any object or objects that are to be grouped with the mask. This is useful for creating gradients that have transparent features that are going to be composited with other objects in Fireworks. When using objects as masks in Fireworks it is important to remember that black pixels in the mask will make the masked objects opaque and white pixels in the mask will make the masked objects transparent. This is because the mask works as an Alpha when the Modify > Mask Group > Mask to Image command is used.

In order to preserve the Alpha channel on export, use the PNG32 format and set the Matte color to Transparent in the Optimize panel. This will allow other image editing programs to open the file with the Alpha channel intact.

Note: When opening a PNG containing an Alpha channel in Photoshop, use the Magic Wand tool to select the dark area containing the transparency and then delete the selected area to return to the correct display of the image.

Using a mask to feather an image selection

A common practice used in image editing programs is to use a pixel selection tool to select an area of pixels, set the feather distance and then either copy and paste to a new layer or invert the selection and delete. There's a better way to do this in Fireworks 3 and it maintains editablity of both the selection and the image selected.

To use a mask to create a feathered selection:

  1. Open the image you want to make a feathered selection from and Exit Image Edit mode by clicking the Stop button in the status bar of the main Fireworks window. You may also import an image -importing an image will bring it in as an object in Fireworks.

  2. Choose the ellipse tool from the Rectangle tool flyout group. Any vector shape may be used as a mask for the object.

  3. Click and drag with the ellipse tool to draw an ellipse. Press the Alt (Windows)/Option (Macintosh) key to draw from the center out. Press the Shift key to constrain the ellipse to a circle.

  4. Fill the ellipse with a solid black fill and set the edge to Feather. Enter a distance for the feather. You may want to experiment with gradient fills to get a softer effect. See the image in step 2 above. It was created by placing a rectangular gradient over the toolbox image and masking the image.

  5. Shift-click on the image behind the fill to add it to the selection (the object panel should read "Object (two objects)" and choose Modify > Mask Group > Mask to Image.

  6. The results should look like this:

    The advantage of this method lies in the editablity of the path, the feather and the image inside the path are retained. No other image editing software can boast this kind of flexibility.

Using a mask to create a transparent Gradient

Since the white pixels of the mask will cause the masked image to have transparent pixels, it's easy to create a transparent gradient using the Mask to Image command.

To create a gradient with transparency:

  1. Draw an object and apply a gradient fill to it using the Fill panel's fill options.

  2. Clone the object.

  3. Click and hold the Pointer tool to reveal the Pointer tool group flyout. Choose the Select Behind tool. You can also press the "v" key to toggle from the Pointer tool to the Select Behind tool and back.

  4. Hold down the Shift key and notice that the outline of the object will turn red when you run the mouse over it. Click when you see the red highlight to add the original object to the selection. The Object panel will read "Object (2 Objects)".

  5. Choose Modify > Mask Group > Mask to Image.

  6. The results should look like this:

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