Consider the U.S. Capitol building shown in Figure 9-12. Whether or not you care for the folks who reside inside — personally, I'm sick of all this cynicism about the government, but I'm happy to exploit it for a few cheap laughs — you must admit, this is one beautiful building. Still, you may reckon the structure would be even more impressive if it were to fade into view out of a river of hot Hawaiian lava, like the one to the Capitol's immediate right. Well, you're in luck, because this is one of the easiest effects to pull off in Photoshop.
Switch to the quick mask mode by pressing Q. Then use the gradient tool to draw a linear gradation from black to white. (Chapter 6 explains exactly how to do so.) The white portion of the gradation represents the area you want to select. I decided to select the top portion of the Capitol, so I drew the gradation from the top of the second tier to the top of the flag, as shown in the first example of Figure 9-13. Because the gradient line is a little hard to see, I've added a little arrow to show the direction of the drag. (To see the mask in full color, check out the first image in Color Plate 9-2.)
Banding can be a problem when you use a gradation as a mask. To eliminate the banding effect, therefore, apply the Add Noise filter at a low setting several times. To create the right example in Figure 9-13, I applied Add Noise using an Amount value of 24 and the Uniform distribution option.
Tip In the right example of Figure 9 13,1 hid the image so that only the mask is visible.
As the figure shows, the Channels palette lists the Quick Mask item in italics. This jF is because Photoshop regards the quick mask as a temporary channel. You can hide the image and view the mask in black and white by clicking the eyeball in front of the color composite view, in this case RGB. Or just press the tilde key (~) to hide the image. Press tilde again to view mask and image together.
To apply the gradation as a selection, I returned to the marching ants mode by again pressing Q. I then Ctrl-dragged the selected portion of the Capitol and dropped it into the lava image to achieve the effect shown in Figure 9-14. I could say something about Congress rising up from the ashes, but I have no idea what I'd mean by this. For the color version of this splendid image, see Color Plate 9-2.
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