An improvement for reducing proximity effects comprised of additional lines, referred to as intensity leveling bars, into the mask pattern. The leveling bars perform the function of adjusting the edge intensity gradients of isolated edges in the mask pattern, to match the edge intensity gradients of densely packed edges. Leveling bars are placed parallel to isolated edges such that intensity gradient leveling occurs on all isolated edges of the mask pattern. In addition, the leveling bars are designed to have a width significantly less than the resolution of the exposure tool. Therefore, leveling bars that are present in the mask pattern produce resist patterns that completely developed away when a nominal exposure energy is utilized during exposure of photoresist.