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Fade out towards the bottom of an image.

I need to fade the bottom of a picture either to white or transparent. eg A picture of someone and they are cut off waist high and I want to elegantly start to fade the picture out towards the bottom instead of having a sharp cut off line. Easy stuff I know but I am brand spanking new to photoshop.
1 Solution
You can do one of two things for a quick and dirty effect like you want.
Pull up your picture, choose the gradient tool (The one that looks like a fade button). If you need to select an area to affect with the gradient tool, do so and then choose the gradient tool. Either use your right mouse button to pick up a color from the image (the main one you fade with), or choose it from your palette.
Swap your background/foreground images, and choose your secondary color. (In this case, either white, or if you want to do a transparent gif, a color you are not using in your image, like bright lime green, bright yellow, etc.) Swap the color swatches again. Use your gradient tool to blend the two colors to your liking.

If you're just going to fade to white, that's it. If you want to make it fade to transparent, change your image to indexed color (image, mode, indexed color), if it isn't that already. Then go to File, Export, and choose GIF89a Export. Then use your mouse to select the colors you wish to turn transparent. Then export it and save.

That's the quick and dirty way. I'm sure there's a more fancy way to do it, but this is the one I stick with.
It is also very easy to do this by using the quick mask (two buttons with circles at the bottom of the tools pallet.) Select quick mask mode by clicking the button on the right. The foreground and backround colors will change to black and white. Select the gradient tool. Start from the top of your picture and drag out a verticle line about 2/3rds down the picture. You'll see a red mask fading at the bottom. Switch back to normal mode. In the "Select" menu, click on inverse. Click on Edit>Copy. Then, Edit>Paste. This will paste the faded selection on a new layer. Highlight the backround layer in the layer menu and make a new layer above it. If you want a white backround then fill this with white. Leave it transparent for a GIF. Delete the backround. Very simple and clean!

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