I may misunderstand You, but why don’t You use the Gradient Tool in the Layer Mask?
And if You dislike the gradient being committed in the Alpha Channel You could create an Adjustment Layer-Gradient and Clipping Mask the relevant Layer to that.
Excellent question! It's hard to explain this tool to someone who's never seen it before, so let me try. Your solution is helpful, but the reason it falls short of this particular feature request is because it's not interactive. The wineglass tool is so cool because after you let go of the mouse button you can see a live preview of the transparency gradient before it's applied. You can then select and drag one of three nodes (opaque starting point, translucent mid-point and transparent end-point) to different positions until it fits your desired result before applying the tool. Also, the point of the tool is that this all can be done extremely fast to achieve great results.
For example, say you want to create a white highlight on a pill-shape button. I realize there are built-in tools to create effects like this in Photoshop, but this is just a proof of concept that can be used for many different things. The way I would do this particular effect in PHOTO-PAINT is to select the pill shape's layer, CTRL+D to duplicated it, lock the transparency of the new layer, Edit >> Fill to flood it white, resize it a tad smaller than the original pill shape, then I would grab the wineglass tool, click and hold above the pill shape and then drag below the pill shape until the bottom of the new highlight is close to transparent, but still slightly opaque. After letting go of the mouse, if I don't think it's quite right, I can move the end point or whatever. Rarely do I move the mid-point, but I find it handy sometimes.
The thing I like most is that I can tinker around with it over and over until it's just right. With your technique, if I place the gradient slightly off I have to keep trying over and over until I get it right. It would be very hard to remember exactly where I clicked before.
Thanks for the tip and thanks for listening!
I think You should look into Vector Masks.
Because one can use not only an Alpha Channel as a Layer Mask but
additionally a path shape as a Vector Mask on an Adjustment Layer-
Gradient (linear, radial, …) and maintain its editability.
I realize exactly what you're saying and how vector masks work, but that's not even close to a solution for this particular request. In fact, vector masks create solid clipping with no gradient whatsoever! So they would offer no benefit here. Even if you used a gradient adjustment layer there would then be no reason to put a vector mask over it. At least, not for this purpose. And if the gradient is off? You have to create a completely new gradient until you get it right.
See, that's why an *interactive* wineglass tool is so powerful. You really don't know what you're missing! The tool is great! I wish I could show it to you.
Please allow me to attach a layered tiff-file (»button.tif«) that may help make my point clearer, unfortunately it may take a while to clear.
Maybe this screenshot will help though.
Adjustment Layer-Gradients can be edited indefinitely with multiple transparency- and color-points … but possibly I misunderstand what You’re looking for.
Edit: Please don’t take this the wrong way, but do You know that one can edit an Adjustment Layer-Gradient by double-clicking it in the Layers-Panel?
button.tif 468.8 K
I appreciate your screencaps. They are helpful!
To answer your question, yes, I do know that one can edit an Adjustment Layer-Gradient by double-clicking it in the Layers-Panel. It's *still* not interactive though! I never take comments like this the wrong way. I just appreciate your help. Dumb it down all you want because I'm still relatively new to Photoshop as you can tell by all my Corel PHOTO-PAINT comments.
Check out my screencap this time...
wineglass.jpg 51.5 K
Now I get it … yeah, Photoshop doesn’t display those gradient-handles in the image itself.
That would probably be quite useful indeed.
Now you get what I'm talking about... INTERACTIVE!!!
Yes! Screencaps FTW!
There is a new way in CS4 to create interactive transparency. Using redefinable vector shapes. In your masks panel you can now interactively BLUR a vector mask. You can then alter both the shape of the vector mask or the blur values. These masks can be placed on groups of layers as well as single layers.
Interactive vector gradients are presently not a feature of photoshop. You can however use Illustrators gradients, and very easily embed them as Smart Objects.
I see what you mean and I'm not saying it's impossible to achieve the same effect in Photoshop, but the solutions provided are always way more complicated and time consuming than what I propose. And though that might seem like I'm just being lazy or whatever, you have to admit that production workflow is extremely important. Saving even just a couple seconds on a task that you perform frequently can really add up to a time saver that's worthwhile.
My request is not to make this particular effect "possible" within Photoshop, but to simply create a new tool through which it can be done more efficiently, in a timely manner.
People really don't understand how much of a timesaver this tool can be unless they have used it. I saw another forum where another person had the same frustration as me, not having this exact tool at his fingertips. Why? Because he and I both use the tool ALL THE TIME!
It's really THAT useful!