I'm trying to create a mask with a nondestructive gradient. So far I have managed to create my shape in a smart object and the masking gradient in another smart object.

My mask looks like this:

The image that I'm trying to mask looks like this:

By setting my image over this gradient smart object, I was able to produce the following:

The setup looks like this:

The problem is that it's also displaying the black from the clipping mask. I have tried turning down the fill on the masking layer but it also hides the image to be masked. I need to make the clipping mask work without displaying itself. I managed to create a bitmap layer mask which produces the desired result (below) but I need a non-destructive solution.

Desired result:

I need a way to not show the clipping mask layer and only use its transparency. I am also open to other solutions that can do the same thing, provided they are non destructive.

How can I create a non destructive mask over my target object, to achieve the effect I have shown in the final image?


1 Answer 1


Start with your gradient smart object set as a clipping mask for your artwork like so:

Photoshop screenshot: starting setup

Open up the Blending Options for your gradient smart object:

Photoshop screenshot: Blending options

Uncheck Blend Clipped Layers as Group:

Photoshop screenshot: Layer Style

Reduce the fill on your gradient smart object to 0%:

Photoshop screenshot: finished product

And that should do it for you

Finished product

  • 1
    In recent Photoshop versions, "Blend Clipped Layers as Group" has been enabled by default.
    – Keavon
    Mar 29, 2021 at 6:44

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