#38 Using the Auto Vector Mask for Quick Fades
You learned how to create a mask using a mask shape or a custom shape, but what if you just need to fade an image quickly? For example, you might need to fade a banner image at the top of a Web page to the background color of the Web site. The answer is to select Commands > Creative > Auto Vector Mask (Figure 38a). You can select a bitmap image or even another vector shape and quickly apply this command.
Figure 38a In previous versions of Fireworks, the Auto Vector Mask command was known as the Fade Image command. This updated version now allows for instant preview of the effect on the canvas.
You can choose from eight preset gradient fade options, all of which are completely customizable after they have been applied.
After Auto Vector Mask has been applied, a vector shape completely covers the dimensions of the masked object. The vector mask is filled with a grayscale gradient (white is opaque, gray is semitransparent, and black is invisible). You can select the vector mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to activate the gradient control arms. By moving the control arms, you change the angle and transition of the fade. For a greater degree of control over the control arms, position the cursor over the arm rather than the start or end control anchors. When the cursor is in position, it will change to a rotate icon, as shown in Figure 38b.
Figure 38b Using your mouse to drag the control arm gives you finer control over the angle of the gradient. You can shorten the gradient (so it fades quicker) by dragging the square control handle or reposition the gradient by dragging the round control handle.