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Lesson 4. Advanced Masking > Creating an opacity mask with an image

Creating an opacity mask with an image

An opacity mask is similar to a layer mask in Photoshop. No matter what color the mask artwork is, Illustrator uses only its luminosity to affect the objects beneath it.

In this section, you’ll place another image and mask it with the type. Then you will create an opacity mask for the type so that it fades to white at the bottom. Because the type is an opacity mask, the new image will graduate from transparent at the bottom to opaque at the top.

In the Layers palette, click the Lock column next to the Type layer to unlock it. Then select the Type layer.

Choose File > Place, select the Wisteria.psd file, located in the Lessons/Lesson04/04AI folder on your hard drive, and click Place.

With the image still selected, choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

If necessary, use the selection tool to move the image so that the Papillon type falls within the wisteria image area.

Using the selection tool, Shift-click the Wisteria image and the type so that both the image and the type are selected. Choose Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

Click in a blank area of the artwork to deselect the masked image.

Now select the rectangle tool, and draw a box that is slightly larger than the Papillon type and that covers the type completely.

With the rectangle still selected, click the Gradient palette tab to make it active. In the palette, click the Gradient swatch to fill the shape with the default black-and-white gradient.

You’ll need a vertical gradient instead of a horizontal one.

Choose Show Options from the Gradient palette menu. Change the gradient angle to 90° in the Gradient palette. Press Enter or Tab.

Masked wisteria (above) and rectangle with 90° gradient

The rectangle should still be selected. You’ll add the type to the selection using the Layers palette.

In the Layers palette, click the triangle next to the Type layer to expand the layer view; then position the pointer in the selection area to the right of the <group> sublayer. Shift-click the selection area to add the hidden type to the rectangle selection.

Shift-clicking selection area in Layers palette to add to a selection

The bounding box of the masked Wisteria type appears, indicating that the gradient is selected with the Wisteria and type mask. You’ll make an opacity mask to reveal the type.

Click the Transparency palette tab to display the Transparency palette. Choose Make Opacity Mask from the Transparency palette menu. The gradient now is part of a transparency mask.

Notice that the type fades from white at the top to black at the bottom.

Choose Show Options from the Transparency palette menu. Click the Invert Mask check box to reverse the effect of the fading type.

The white part of the graduated type is actually transparent. If you want to see the effect, select the opacity mask thumbnail in the Transparency palette; the mask appears selected in the image.

As an option, in the image use the selection tool to reposition the mask over the type and change the mask’s effect.

Inverting the opacity mask

Repositioning the mask (optional)

Save the file.

Close all open files and quit Illustrator.

You’ve completed masking your type using an opacity mask.

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