How To Reduce Opacity In Photoshop

By | 21/08/2022

Lesson 10: Doing More than with Layers



As we discussed in our lesson on agreement layers, there are many ways to use layers in Photoshop. So far, we’ve covered a few fundamental skills, including how to use adjustment layers. In this lesson, we’ll cover some of the more avant-garde options,
like opacity,
blending modes,
layer masks
, and
layer groups. We’ll also provide links to additional resource if you want to acquire more well-nigh using these tools.

If you’d like to follow along, yous can download our case file.

Layer opacity

You tin control the
for near every layer in a Photoshop document. The opacity determines how
the layer will be. In other words, information technology controls how much the layers below can show through. Take a expect at the case below.

image showing varying levels of transparency

This example uses 2 different Text layers and a Background layer. The
text layer has an opacity of
100%. This layer is completely opaque, meaning nothing beneath the letters tin can show through. By contrast,
text layer has an opacity of
15%. This layer is by and large transparent, meaning you can
see through
the letters to the background layer.

Y’all tin also change the opacity of an
Adjustment layer
to brand information technology more subtle. For example, if yous accept a Curves layer that is too intense, you lot could reduce the opacity to 70-lxxx%. In many situations, this may be easier than modifying the adjustment layer itself.

To conform layer opacity:

  1. Select the desired layer, then click the
    drib-down arrow at the top of the

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  2. Click and drag the
    to adjust the opacity. Y’all’ll see the layer opacity modify in the document window as you motility the slider. If y’all prepare the opacity to 0%, the layer will become
    transparent, or invisible.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Try this!

Open up the case file, so suit the opacity of the
to come across the effect.

Groundwork transparency

Past default, most Photoshop documents utilise a
layer. You lot cannot adjust the opacity of a
layer, and it cannot exist hidden. This is considering you lot won’t want the background to have transparency for virtually projects, especially if you’re working with a photo.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

However, in that location are some situations where you may want a
transparent background. If you’re creating a logo for a website, for example, a transparent background volition permit the website’s groundwork color to show through, giving the logo a more than seamless and professional look.

If you lot’re following along with the example file, try
hiding all layers except the Acorn layer
. See the
checkerboard pattern
behind the acorn? This ways the groundwork is
completely transparent. The checkerboard won’t actually be exported when yous relieve your paradigm; it’s but there to indicate transparency.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Notation that if you lot desire your paradigm to have a transparent groundwork, you’ll need to save information technology in a
format that can handle transparency. Nosotros recommend using the
format, which is available in the Save for Web dialog box. JPEG files are unable to have transparent backgrounds, and then they will salvage all transparent areas equally white.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Blending modes

In addition to adjusting opacity, you can utilize different
blending modes
to control how the layers in your document are mixed together. The blending mode carte du jour is located at the top of the
panel, next to Opacity.

If you lot’re following forth with the case file, select the
layer. Notice that the blending mode is fix to
Multiply. Fifty-fifty though the opacity of the Record layer is set to 100%, this blending fashion allows the turquoise color from the layer below to bear witness through.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

To change the blending way, click the
Blending Mode
drop-downwardly carte, then select the desired fashion. In the example below, changing the blending mode to
will nonetheless allow the turquoise background to evidence through, merely this time it appears on the tape instead.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Each blending fashion creates a different effect, and some are much more noticeable than others. It’s also of import to note that blending modes volition work differently depending on the

of your layers. This means many blending modes may look unnatural, and information technology’s unlikely that all of the modes volition look skillful in your project.

While blending modes give you a lot of flexibility, they can also be tricky to use. To learn more about blending modes, review this tutorial from Photo Web log Stop.

Clipping masks

Earlier in this tutorial, we covered using aligning layers to correct images. By default, aligning layers volition impact all layers below them. However, there may be times when you only want an adjustment layer to affect
ane layer. To do this, yous can utilize a
clipping mask.

If you’re post-obit along with the example file, locate the
small arrow
next to the
Gradient Map
layer. This indicates that a clipping mask has been applied, which limits the adjustment layer to only the
layer beneath.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

To utilize a clipping mask, press and hold the
key on your keyboard (or
on a Mac), then click between the desired layers in the
panel. In this example, we’re clicking between the Gradient Map and Acorn layers.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Y’all can as well apply this method to
a clipping mask. Releasing a clipping mask does non delete the layer, only it causes it to
behave like a normal layer. For example, if you release the clipping mask for the Slope Map layer in the instance file, it volition affect the color of all of the layers below information technology instead of but affecting the Acorn layer.

It’s besides important to annotation that you tin can utilise a clipping mask to multiple adjustment layers above the same layer. For this reason, if you’re already using clipping masks in your document, new adjustment layers may use a clipping mask automatically.

Effort this!

Open the example file. Select the
layer, and so add a
adjustment layer. Make certain a clipping mask is applied to the new layer, then modify the curves in the Backdrop panel. Notice how the curves adjustments merely touch on the Acorn layer. Next, try
reducing the opacity
of the adjustment layers to

To acquire more than about clipping masks, review this tutorial from Adobe.

Layer masks

Sometimes yous may want only certain parts of a layer to be visible. For example, you might want to
remove the background
from a layer so the layers below it can show through. While y’all could utilise the
tool to remove the parts you don’t desire, this blazon of destructive editing may be difficult to undo. Fortunately,
layer masks

allow you to show and hide parts of any layer in a nondestructive mode.

Creating a layer mask can be a bit complicated, then let’s showtime past looking at ane that’due south already finished. If y’all’re post-obit along with the example file, select the
layer. Hither, we used a layer mask to hide, or
mask out, the groundwork then the acorn is the merely part of the layer that’s visible. The layer mask is represented by the blackness-and-white thumbnail to the right of the layer icon in the
panel. Notice how the areas that are visible in the document window stand for with the white area on the layer mask thumbnail.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

The of import matter to recognize here is that the background of the Acorn layer hasn’t actually been removed; it’s only hidden. If we always wanted to show more of the original epitome, we could
or even
the layer mask.

To edit a layer mask:

To improve empathise how layer masks piece of work, let’s try editing the the Acorn layer mask. We’ll exist using the
tool, so if you’ve never used it we recommend reviewing our lesson on working with brushes.

  1. Select the layer mask thumbnail in the
    console. In our example, we’ll select the thumbnail next to the
  2. Next, choose the
    tool from the
    panel, then gear up the
  3. Click and drag your image to
    reveal areas
    in the layer. In this case, nosotros’re revealing more than of the groundwork past calculation white paint to the layer mask.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  4. Set the Foreground Color to
    black, so click and elevate your prototype to
    hibernate areas
    in the layer.
  5. Continue using the Brush tool until yous’re satisfied with the issue.

You lot’ll need to take your time and work carefully to get the best possible result, specially when refining the edges of the layer mask around an object. Information technology may exist helpful to adjust the
hardness, and
of the Brush tool.

To create a new layer mask:

At present that y’all know more near layer masks, y’all may desire to try creating your own.

  1. Select a layer, then click the
    Layer Mask

    at the bottom of the
    panel. In our case, we’ll create a new layer mask for the

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  2. The layer mask will announced as a
    white thumbnail
    adjacent to the layer icon in the
    panel. You can then select the thumbnail and use the
    tool to edit the layer mask.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Annotation that you can apply
multiple layer masks
to the same layer. However, this tin go complicated, so we recommend using only one layer mask per layer.

Using layer masks with adjustment layers

You can use a layer mask to command
which areas of your image are afflicted
by an adjustment layer. For example, if you accept a
Blackness and White
adjustment layer, yous could use a layer mask to convert specific areas to blackness and white while leaving other areas unaffected.

Every adjustment layer has a layer mask by default, so you won’t need to create a new one. You can only click the layer mask and and then apply the Brush tool to edit it.

To remove a layer mask:

  1. Click and elevate the layer mask thumbnail to the
    Trash Can
    in the lower-right corner of the
  2. A dialog box will appear. Cull
    to remove the layer mask. Choosing
    will really remove the parts of the layer that are currently hidden, then you lot’ll want to avoid this choice unless you’re absolutely sure that you no longer demand these parts of the image.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

You can also press and hold the
key and click the thumbnail to temporarily disable the layer mask.

Creating and editing layer masks can exist a challenging task, and in that location are many other methods for achieving skilful results. To learn more, review these tutorials:

  • Mask Out Role of an Image (Adobe)
  • A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Masking in Photoshop (Design Shack)

Layer groups

Once you start working with multiple layers in your certificate, it can exist hard to keep them organized. Fortunately, Photoshop allows y’all to
your layers. You can use groups to keep related layers together, motion and edit multiple layers at once, and much more.

To create a grouping:

  1. Locate and select the
    button at the bottom of the

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  2. A new empty group will appear. If y’all want, click and elevate the group to
    within the Layers panel.
  3. Click and drag whatsoever layer to the
    group icon
    in the Layers panel, and so release the mouse. Layers that are in a group will be slightly indented from the other layers in the panel.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  4. Click the arrow to
    the layer.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

  5. Yous can now dispense all of the layers in the grouping at in one case. In this example, we’re clicking the
    middle icon
    to hide all layers within the group.

    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

If you’re using Photoshop Elements, you won’t be able to create new groups. However, you will be able to view existing groups when working with files created in the total version of Photoshop.

Try this!

Open the example file and
create a group. Click and drag all of the
layers into this new group. Next, select
Group 1, then
reduce the opacity to 70%. Notice how this changes the opacity for all layers inside the group.

To learn more near layer groups, review this tutorial from Adobe.

Merging and flattening layers

If you no longer need to edit certain layers, y’all might consider
them. There are many reasons you might want to combine certain layers. For instance, if you accept multiple adjustment layers you might want to merge them into a single layer before applying other changes, such as sharpening or noise reduction.

To merge layers, select the first layer, press and hold the
central, and click the final layer you want to merge (all of the layers between the first and last will exist selected). Next, right-click the layers and select
Merge Layers. Y’all tin likewise select the layers and then press

on a Mac).

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC

Merging will remove the flexibility and control layers provide, so y’all should only combine layers if you’re sure y’all no longer need to edit them individually.

Note: Make sure to correct-click the
layer name, non the layer icon. Otherwise, the menu will non appear.

You can also combine all of the layers in your document into a single
layer. This is known as
the image. To exercise this, right-click any layer, then select
Flatten Epitome.

Flattening an paradigm is 1 way to simplify a complex Photoshop project. Even so, it’southward of import to annotation that you
do non demand to flatten images
earlier exporting them. When saving a project as a JPEG or PNG file, all of the layers volition be flattened automatically considering these file formats cannot have multiple layers.

Effort this!

Open the example file. Select the
Gradient Map
layers, then

To learn more than nigh merging layers, review this video tutorial from Adobe.