How to Fade Out a Photo in Illustrator CS5

By David Weedmark

There are two easy ways to fade out a photo in Adobe Illustrator. The first method uses the Transparency panel to apply a level of transparency to the entire photo. The second way is to use the Gradient Tool on another object, then use that to apply an Opacity Mask to the photo. This makes the photo fade from one end to the other, or from the center outward. A gradient opacity mask is useful to prepare a photo before overlaying it on another photo or using it in a banner on a website.

Transparency Panel

Step 1

Launch Illustrator. Click “Open” in the Welcome Screen, or press “Ctrl" and "O” simultaneously once Illustrator has started. Choose a photo you would like to fade and click “Open.”

Step 2

Zoom in or out as needed to see the entire photo. Resize the image if desired by clicking the “Selection Tool” in the Toolbox and clicking on the photo to select it. Click on a corner and drag it to change its size. Holding down the “Shift” key while dragging maintains the photo’s proportions.

Step 3

Click the “Window” menu and select “Transparency” to see the Transparency panel. Click the “Opacity” menu and drag the slider to the left to fade out the photo to the desired level.

Gradient Transparency

Step 1

Open a photo in Illustrator. Resize the photo as needed.

Step 2

Select the “Rectangle Tool” from the Toolbox. Draw a rectangle over the photo by clicking in the corner of the document and dragging the tool across the photo.

Step 3

Click the “Gradient Tool” in the Toolbox. Click the rectangle to apply a gradient to it. By default this will change the rectangle to white on the left, fading to black on the right. When the gradient is applied to the photo, black will be transparent and white will be solid.

Step 4

Open the Gradient panel by clicking the “Window” menu and selecting “Gradient.”

Step 5

Change the type of gradient by clicking the “Type” menu in the Gradient panel. You can choose from a “Linear” gradient which changes the gradient from one end to another, or a “Radial” gradient which changes it from the center outward.

Step 6

Adjust the gradient on the rectangle in the main window by dragging the “Color Stops” on the Gradient bar. You can also adjust the gradient by dragging the color stops on the Gradient bar in the Gradient panel.

Step 7

Click “Reverse Gradient” in the Gradient panel if you want to reverse the gradient effect.

Step 8

Press “Ctrl" and "A” simultaneously to select both the rectangle and the photo. Click "Window," then "Transparency." Click the “More” menu in the upper right corner of the “Transparency” panel, then click “Make Opacity Mask.” The photo automatically fades to transparency.