Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've been using Photoshop CS3 for several years. All of a sudden today, I could not apply a gradient to a layer mask. Nothing happens. I was, however, able to use a brush on the mask.

  1. Click layer mask button.
  2. Choose gradient tool.
  3. Click and drag on the layer.

Screen capture:


enter image description here

share|improve this question
You can upload an image and delete the !. A member with more reputation can add that ! to make your image visable here... – Kurt Mar 18 '13 at 21:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In addition to blending modes for layers, Photoshop allows blending modes for painting tools such as the Brush Tool, Pencil Tool, Clone Tool, and Gradient Tool.

You have the Gradient Tool set to the Screen blending mode.


Obviously, with a black and white gradient in "screen" mode only the white is going to have any effect. On masks, white shows, black hides. So without black, any gradient will appear to do nothing. However, what it's really doing is adding a black to white screen mode gradient, so it's lightening things. But if the mask is a "show all" mask - meaning white.... well nothing changes.

To correct the issue change the blending mode of the Gradient Tool in the Control Bar to Normal, or even Multiply.

share|improve this answer

Try Alt-clicking on the layer mask icon in the layers palette. You can then edit the mask directly and apply your gradient there.

Not ideal, but it may be the easiest alternative workaround. If that works for you...

share|improve this answer
Didn't work. The gradient tool is still broken in this ALT mode. – Pwner Mar 18 '13 at 21:57

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.