Chapter 11: Using a Radial Mask

The use of a Radial Gradient Mask is a quick, easy way to highlight the sun, a face or anything else on your photo.  You can create an ellipse or circular shape that makes its easy to create a gradual blend between two states. It can be used with an image layer to add ramping transparency.  For an adjustment layer, it’s useful to create a blend between the modified and original state.

Here’s how to use the Radial Mask tool

  1. Create a Layer or Adjustment Layer mask as previously discussed in this chapter.  

  2. Click the Edit Mask button on the layer.

  3. Select the Radial Mask option from the drop-down.

  1. Click and drag to create a circular gradient.  

  2. Click the Visibility button in the top toolbar to make it easier to visualize the gradient.

  3. The tool offers simple controls to refine the gradient.

    • Drag the middle of the gradient (the dot) to place its center.

    • Drag the inside circle’s radius to affect the size of the gradient.

    • Drag the outside circle’s radius to affect the feathering of the gradient.

    • Drag a handle on the outside circle to adjust the aspect ratio to create an ellipse shape.

    • Drag outside the outer circle to rotate the gradient mask.

  4. You can change the mode of the mask if you need to change how a mask is applied by clicking the Invert button. By default, the Radial Gradient mask that is created will “protect” the center of the circle/oval and any enhancements will be applied outside of the inner circle. Click this button to invert the mask so that effects will be applied TO the inner circle.

  5. You can also adjust properties like Blending modes and Opacity to change the masks impact on the image.

  1. When satisfied with the mask, click the Done button.  

  2. If using an Adjustment Layer, adjust the Filter controls as needed.  The mask will control how its results are applied.


You can edit the results of a Radial mask by clicking the Edit Mask button.  This lets you add or subtract from the mask using the Brush tool for greater control over the mask.

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Chapter 11: Using a Radial Mask(10)