Learn how to create smooth and seamless blends with the Gradient tool.

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Download a sample file to practice with. This sample file includes Adobe Stock assets you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

What you learned: Create a smooth transition between images with a gradient mask

Add a layer mask and configure the Gradient tool

  1. Click the Add layer mask button in the Layers panel to add a layer mask to the active layer.
  2. Select the Gradient tool in the Toolbar.
  3. In the Options bar, choose the Linear gradient style. Make sure the Reverse colors checkbox is unchecked.
  4. Open the Gradient Picker from the Options bar and choose the third gradient swatch from the left: a black-to-white gradient.
  5. Make sure the layer mask thumbnail is selected in the Layers panel. (Look for the highlight border around the layer mask thumbnail.)

Add a linear gradient to a layer mask

Adding a gradient to a layer mask creates a smooth, gradual transition between the masked layer and the layer below.

  1. Click in the image and drag a line that represents the black to white gradient.
  2. If you don’t like the result, try dragging again. The new gradient will replace the current gradient. Dragging a shorter line creates a more noticeable change between images; dragging a longer line creates a more seamless blend between images.

Add a radial gradient to a layer mask

  1. Choose the Radial style in the Options bar for the Gradient tool.
  2. With a layer mask selected, press D on the keyboard to set the Foreground color box to white and the Background color box to black, so the radial gradient will be white in the center fading out to black.
  3. Open the Gradient Picker in the Options bar and choose the first gradient swatch, which is a foreground to background gradient.
  4. Drag a line outward from the center of the content you want to show toward content you want to hide.
  5. If you want to redraw the gradient, drag out a new line.

Refine the layer mask with the Brush tool

After making a gradient on a layer mask, you can edit the gradient with a soft-edged brush. This is a good way to further soften the transition between images.

  1. Select the Brush tool in the Toolbar. Open the Brush Picker in the Options bar and drag the Hardness slider to the left to soften the edge of the brush.
  2. With the layer mask still active, paint with black, white, or gray to refine the mask.

Save your work

  • Save the image in .PSD or .TIFF format to retain the layers and layer masks.
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