Fade Away A Photo

Fade a photo to make a smooth transition when blending two photos together or just for an interesting effect.

Another reason for fading a photo is to lessen distracting objects that might be in the foreground. That's what we're going to look at in this Tutorial.

But along the way you can learn some essential techniques that will come in handy when you use Elements. Here are just a few…

  • How to use the Gradient Tool

  • How to Fill a Layer with Color

  • How to use a Layer Mask

Here's a look at the result we are going to achieve…

So let's get started!

STEP 1. – Open Your Photo In Photoshop Elements.

photoshop elements fade

As you can see there are a few distracting objects on the table in front of the subjects.

My mother-in-law must have been out of the room because she always makes sure we clear the clutter off the table before someone snaps a picture.

STEP 2. – Duplicate the Background Layer.

Go to the Layers Panel. If it's not visible go up to the Window Menu and click on Layers.

You will see one Layer in the Panel called Background. Click-and-drag the Background Layer onto the Create new layer icon in the Layers Panel. It looks like a sheet of paper with a curled up edge.

photoshop elements fade

A new Layer will appear above the Background Layer called Background Copy.

STEP 3. – Add a New Layer and Fill it with White.

I want to create a new Layer between the two Layers I already have in the Layers Panel. Anytime you create a new Layer it is added above whatever Layer is currently active.

Since we want it between the two Layers you need to make sure the bottom Layer (Background) is active. Just click once on it and it will become active.

Click on the Create new layer icon and a new Transparent Layer will appear between the other two Layers. You can tell that it's Transparent by the checkerboard pattern on it.

photoshop elements fade

Now we need to fill the Transparent Layer with White. Go up to the Edit Menu and choose Fill Layer...

A Dialog Box will appear. In the first field is a drop-down list. Choose White from the list. Then click OK to commit to the change and to close the dialog box.

fill layer with white

STEP 4. – Set Up The Gradient Tool.

Go over to the Toolbox and choose the Gradient Tool by clicking on it once.

photoshop elements fade

Now go up to the Options Bar and at the far left there will be a graphic representation of the current Gradient. You can choose a different Gradient by clicking on the tiny arrow (circled in red) just to the right of that Gradient. A group of Preset Gradients will appear.

We want the third one over (circled in red) which is called Black,White. Choose it by clicking on it. Now close the Presets box by clicking on its close box.

photoshop elements fade

Further to the right on the Options Bar are five icons representing different types of Gradients you can choose. For our Fade we want to use the first one which is Linear Gradient (circled in red). So choose that by clicking on it.

STEP 5. – Add a Layer Mask.

Go back to your Layers Panel and click on the top Layer (Background copy) to make it active.

photoshop elements fade

Click on the Add layer mask icon in the Layers Panel (circled in red above) to add a Layer Mask to the top Layer.

You can see there is a new icon added next to your top Layer in the Layers Panel. That is the Layer Mask you just created for that Layer.

You need to be aware that when you have a Layer Mask with a Layer, you now have two icons on the same line in the Layers Panel. The icon on the left represents the Layer and the one on the right represents the mask for that Layer.

Now you can't just click anywhere on that line to select the Layer. You need to either click on the Layer icon or on the Layer Mask icon, depending on which one you want to affect.

In the next step we're going to drag with the Gradient Tool to create our fade. You need to make sure you have the Layer Mask active when you do that.

You can tell which is active because the active one gets a black border around all four corners. See for yourself. First click once on the icon on the left representing the Layer and notice the border. Now click on the Layer Mask icon and notice that it now gets the border around it.

Leave it on the Layer Mask because that's what we want to affect.

STEP 6. – Create Your Fade.

photoshop elements fade

With the Gradient Tool active and the Layer Mask selected put your cursor at the bottom of your photo in the main work area. Click-and-drag straight up (you can hold down the Shift Key while you click-and-drag to keep the line straight) to a point where you want the fade to end.

If you don't like the results just do a new click-and-drag and the new gradient will replace the old one.

Keep in mind that the point where you start your click-and-drag, everything from that point and below will be completely white.

Play around with it for awhile to see how it works and until you get a fade that you like.

Here's a look at the Before and After…

photoshop elements fade

That raps up this Tutorial. I hope you found it helpful!

Take care,
Rick


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