I am trying to do an opacity mask and it is driving me crazy.

Bascially I have a layer of ice. It's four different pictures of ice overlapping each other so it looks like a whole bunch of ice. I want to have it fade in from both sides (left and right) until it is completely opaque in the middle.

I've select all of the pictures and chosen 'Make Opacity Mask' from the Transparency Panel and it disappears but then I don't know how to manipulate the opacity.

In the Transparency panel it doesn't show a picture of what I'm working with so I can't simply click next to it to create the opacity mask like I've seen in tutorials.

I've also tried to overlay a rectangle over the objects, choose them all then try 'Make Opacity Mask' but that didn't work either. Any ideas? Thanks.

1 Answer 1


Do this....

Draw a new shape over your ice. Fill it with a black to white gradient.

Now select the ice and your new shape. NOW choose Make Opacity Mask from the Transparency panel.

The top shape is what is used for an opacity mask. Simply alter the top shape to alter the opacity.

My guess is you are simply drawing a solid color rectangle over the object so everything is masked. Opacity masks really only work when the masking object is not a flat color.


I'm not certain what you mean by "disappears".

Once you apply an opacity mask, you must click the mask thumbnail on the Transparency Panel to edit the mask shape. Then click the artwork thumbnail (on the Transparency panel) to go back to the artwork.

Even More

This VIDEO at Vimeo shows the basic steps in creating an opacity mask.

I believe what you may be doing is not actually clicking the mask after you create it. You must click it to alter it.

  • I've seen that as a solution in other tutorials but when I do that, the shape with the gradient just disappears. Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 17:00
  • Worked for me. The result is a graphic not a vector. Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 17:38
  • Stefan.... ermm.. no the result is still vector. @MxmastaMills - Can you update your question with specific steps you are using? This should absolutely work. You must be doing something wrong along the way.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:12
  • Sure, it's been a bit complicated because I have a full image already and there's five images of ice overlapping to create the effect of a whole bunch of ice. I then overlay the rectangle over all five images, do the gradient, then select the five images (that are underneath) and try to apply the opacity mask and it just disappears. I'll try to put more detail in in a minute (with pictures)... Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 22:07
  • Are you selecting the 5 images AND the gradient rectangle? All of it?
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 22:35

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