I have three layers:

1) fade foreground (currently a black and white gradient)
2) foreground (contains roads, buildings, vehicles etc)
3) background gradient

What I am trying to is fade in the foreground layers from the edge of the screen from 0% transparency (black in the gradient), to the white part of the gradient (100% transparency).

The layers in the foreground span across multiple artboards, so ideally I'd like to do this without having to flatten the layers so I can just have this part of the image transparent.

I know how to achieve this in Photoshop but am unsure in Illustrator. Any assistance would be gratefully received.


1 Answer 1


Opacity Mask

  • If working in CMYK mode.... make certain the "black" in the gradient is actually the Registration black (yes, Registration)

  • If working RGB ensure the black is R0G0B0 and not simply K100%.

The above colors are required for masking to work properly and actually hide 100% of all the colors. If you find your mask is not hiding everything as you expect, it may be because the "black" in the mask is not full color.

  • Ensure the gradient object is on top in the stacking order. It will be used as a mask.

  • Select the gradient rectangle and everything you want to fade.

  • On the Transparency Panel (Window > Transparency) click Make Mask button.

enter image description here

You'll see this new Opacity mask take effect on the artwork. From here, you may need to adjust the clip or invert options depending upon the artwork construction.

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Working with Opacity Masks in AI is similar to working with Layer Masks in Photoshop. If you want to edit the Mask, you need to click the mask thumbnail on the Transparency Panel. Conversely, if you wish to edit the artwork, you need to click the artwork thumbnail on the Transparency Panel.

These are the basics of creating an Opacity Mask. Opacity masks can be created from vector OR raster content in Illustrator. Unlike Clipping Masks, Opacity Masks are helpful when you desire a mask which contains soft transitions in transparency. However, they will also work with hard edge objects if needed.

(CC2017 Transparency panel screen shot, but functionality is the same in newer versions)


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