About opacity and blending options in layers
A layer’s opacity determines the degree to which it obscures or reveals the layer beneath it. A layer with 1% opacity is nearly transparent, while a layer with 100% opacity is opaque. Transparent areas remain transparent regardless of the opacity setting.
You use layer blending modes to determine how a layer blends with the pixels in layers beneath it. Using blending modes, you can create various special effects.
A layer’s opacity and blending mode interact with the opacity and blending mode of painting tools. For example, a layer uses Dissolve mode at 50% opacity. You paint on this layer with the Paintbrush tool set to Normal mode at 100% opacity. The paint appears in Dissolve mode at 50% opacity. Similarly, if a layer uses Normal mode at 100% opacity, and you use the Eraser tool at 50% opacity, only 50% of the paint disappears from the layer as you erase.
A. Bamboo layer and Borders layer B. Bamboo layer with 100% opacity and Color Burn mode C. Bamboo layer with 50% opacity and Color Burn mode
Specify the opacity of a layer
- Select the layer in the Layers panel.
- In the Layers panel, enter a value between 0 and 100 for Opacity, or click the arrow at the right of the Opacity box and drag the Opacity slider that appears.
Specify a blending mode for a layer
- Select a layer that you have added, in the Layers panel.
- Choose an option from the Blending Mode menu.
Select all opaque areas in a layer
You can quickly select all the opaque areas in a layer. This procedure is useful when you want to exclude transparent areas from a selection.
- In the Layers panel, Ctrl-click (Command-click in Mac OS) the layer thumbnail:
- To add the pixels to an existing selection, press Ctrl+Shift (Command+Shift in Mac OS) and click the layer thumbnail in the Layers panel.
- To remove the pixels from an existing selection, press Ctrl+Alt (Command+Option in Mac OS) and click the layer thumbnail in the Layers panel.
- To load the intersection of the pixels and an existing selection, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Command+Option+Shift in Mac OS) and click the layer thumbnail in the Layers panel.
Customize the transparency grid
The checkerboard grid identifies transparency in a layer. You can change the appearance of this grid; however, do not change it to solid white because you’ll eliminate the visual distinction between opaque (white) and transparent (checkerboard).
- In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > Transparency. In Mac, choose Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Transparency.
- Choose a pattern size from the Grid Size menu.
- Choose a pattern color from the Grid Colors menu. To choose a custom color instead, click one of the two boxes below the Grid Colors menu and select a color from the Color Picker.