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Partially displaying a model

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You all know the classic game Columns yes? When the 3 jewels are still falling you can switch the order in which they are arranged for better placement. So now in my own crappy knock-off version i''m adding the cycling of the jewels, which isnt a problem except i''m not liking just changing them at a push of a button. I can slide them around without a problem, but this looks slightly funny with the two ends jutting outside the 3x1 bounds of the current block. I was thinking of fading/blending them out somehow, and a couple of things spring to mind: Clip planes at the top and bottom. Accurate but gets a hard edge Stencil buffer to restrict the drawing, same problems with hard edges as clip planes. Whole model blending, i was hoping to avoid, but may have to resort to this.. Is there a way to ''load'' the backbuffer with some sort of alpha values for fade in/out and then apply this to the jewel as it is drawn? Thanks

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