Better understanding Opacity and fill in photoshop

Better understanding Opacity and fill in photoshop

Opacity and fill, are among few widely used option in Photoshop. But many of us are still confused regarding the variance between these two. I know how different it made my work flow when I finally understood the difference between these two terms. In this post I will share my understanding of opacity and fill and hopefully you will put some of your personal effort to experiment more with this tool and share what you have learned.

Opacity vs fill

For people who still have not used these tools , it’s usually located on the top right corner of the layer palate.

opacity vs fill in the layer palate

As the name suggests, opacity is blocking the transparency of an image. When one decreases the opacity they are making the layer beneath the image more visible through the top layer. When opacity of any layer is set to 0 % it becomes completely invisible. But with fill option the case is not the same.
When one decreases the percentage of the fill tool, the content of the layers becomes transparent.This is where it gets tricky for some users, although the content disappears the effects that were applied remains. The effects included could be anything from blending option, drop shadow , stroke etc.
So technically,

 Opacity = take way (content + style/effects )
Fill  = only  takes away the content

The image below will help it more clear.
For demonstration purposes I will use my logo.
Here both the opacity and fill is 100 %. I have applied few layer effects outer glow and deep shadow as shown on the image.

Opacity 100 fill 100

The second image where the opacity is 3 % and the fill is 100 %. Keeping 3% on the opacity one can still see the logo, three more steps down and the layer is transparent.

Opacity 3 fill 100

The third image has opacity on 100 % , whereas fill is reduced to 0%. Here, fill has taken the content (white part) away leaving behind the effects outer glow and drop shadow.

Fill 0 opacity 100

So, this is the basic distinction between fill and opacity. If you use this information and play around, you will have much more better understanding. Do comment, I hope to hear from you guys. Happy Photoshopping 🙂

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About author

Anup Ghimire
Anup Ghimire 60 posts

Anup ghimire is a self learned Photographer/Designer and recently graduated in multimedia technologies from London metropolitan university.Traveling is something he loves the most after photography. You can see some of his photos at his facebook photography page

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