Fan of creative technology, elearning, instructional design and a little geeky

Soft edged transparency effect

Digitip 013 – Adobe Photoshop 7

How do I create one of those nice looking soft edge transparency effects on a photo? There are dozens of methods of creating this effect in Photoshop. The following is a quick ‘n easy method, that not only retains the original image information, it also allows for quick ‘n easy image updates at a later stage (even when already placed in InDesign). 

Start by creating a layer for the image that is to have the soft edged transparency effect. If the image opens with only a “background”, then double click the Background to make a layer.

image layer

Layer Mask

Next, select the layer and click the Add Layer Mask button in the layers palette.

image layer mask

A blank layer mask is added.

Gradient edge technique 1

To create an even looking soft edge on one side of the image, select the gradient tool, then select the black, white gradient from the gradient presets.

gradient selection from presets

Select the layer mask, then using the gradient tool , click-drag from point 1 to point 2. Everything North of 1 will become transparent, everything South of 2 will retain original image information. Between point 1 and 2 a transition occurs from transparent to original image information.

click drag gradient tool

If you are not happy with the result. then simply repeat the click-drag motion, until you’ve got a result you can smile about.

Increasing the distance between point 1 and 2 will give a wider gradient (soft) edge, decreasing will give a shorter gradient (soft) edge.

effect of click drag

Save the Photoshop file, and place in InDesign.

Using soft edged brush – technique 2

Select the blank layer mask and use a soft edged brush (paint with black) and “paint” transparency.

using brush technique

A reasonably sized brush works best here.

Tip: Set foreground/background colour back to Default (press D on keyboard), use the [ and ] keys on the keyboard to decrease or increase the brush size, add the shift key and you decrease/increase the hardness of the brush. To remove transparency press “X” to swap foreground/background colours, and “X” again to recreate transparency.

Save the Photoshop file, and place in InDesign.

Placement in Adobe InDesign and automatic update

Place the image above a coloured background or other image to see the transparency effect. If the effect isn’t quite like you’d wanted, select the image and right mouse-click Graphics>Edit Original in InDesign.

This will re-open the image in Photoshop. Make the required change to the mask in Photoshop, then save and close the Photoshop file. On return to InDesign you will immediately view the amended result.

preview in InDesign

Pretty cool integration of Photoshop and InDesign I reckon!

P.S. thanks for reminding me to add this tip Bob!

Similar posts
  • Fixing up old photos with Adobe Photoshop As part of the April 2015 Adobe User Group meeting in Perth, I recorded a series of videos that covered some of the tips we reviewed during that meeting. For a full read-up about this meeting, please visit the Rejuvenating old photos and documents meeting round-up page. Video 1: Converting an old sepia tone back [...]
  • How to remove a background from an image in Photosho... How do I remove a background from an image? The following Photoshop tutorial (youtube video) shows one of many techniques there are for removing image backgrounds. The technique used doesn’t permanently remove the background pixels in the images, but allows you to further correct and fine-tune the transparent background you create through the use of [...]
  • Channels, Masks and Adjustment Layers… Channels, Masks, Adjustment Layers… Photoshop CS5 rocks when it comes to using these features in conjunction with each other. Did you know you could use color channel information in Photoshop as the basis for a mask, that will control where a particular color adjustment might be applied? All without harming any pixels whatsoever in the original image? [...]
  • Removing power lines from a photo with Photoshop Photoshop CS5 introduces us to a very cool new tool, the Content-Aware Spot Healing Brush Tool a true power  tool, that has many different uses. You can use it to get rid of blemishes in an image, such as spot in a persons face, clean-up rubbish or loose leaves that might lay on a lawn in [...]
  • How to fix horizons that are on an angle in Photosho... We've all got them... those holiday shots where the ocean seems to be running of the edge of the image, where the horizon is no longer horizontal. With Photoshop CS5 we can straighten out those images faster then ever before. In the following video let's take a look at how we can use the Crop tool, Ruler tool, Arbitrary rotation, [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *