How To Change The Opacity Of Anything In Photoshop

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There are many ways to blend layers, whether you want to reduce the intensity of an effect or have a lower layer slightly show through the layer on top. Whatever the goal is, you will need to know how to change opacity in Photoshop to work with effects and multiple layers.

In most instances, you will simply need to adjust the opacity slider for the layer, but the process is slightly different when it comes to working with tools such as the Brush Tool. To get you started, here is everything you need to know about changing opacity.

Lesson Summary
Step 1: Click On A Layer In The Layers Panel To Select It
Step 2: Click On The Opacity Drop-Down Menu In The Layers Panel
Step 3: Move The Slider To The Left To Reduce Opacity Or To The Right To Increase It
Step 4: For Tools And Gradients, Move The Opacity Slider In The Options Bar
Step 1: Click On A Layer In The Layers Panel To Select It
Step 2: Click On The Opacity Drop-Down Menu In The Layers Panel
Step 3: Move The Slider To The Left To Reduce Opacity Or To The Right To Increase It
Step 4: For Tools And Gradients, Move The Opacity Slider In The Options Bar

How To Change The Opacity Of Layers & Groups In Photoshop

Whether you are working on a normal layer or a Smart Object layer, you can change the opacity in the Layers Panel. As you can see, the target layer’s opacity is set to 100%, which means the layer is 100% visible.

To change layer opacity, click on the arrow next to the opacity percentage. A slider will appear where you can drag left and right to increase or decrease the layer opacity.

Alternatively, you can press 1-9 on your keyboard to change the selected layer’s opacity between 10% and 90%. To change the opacity back to 100%, you will need to press 0 instead.

Note: This process works on normal layers, adjustment layers, and groups. To adjust the opacity of a group, select the group layer and adjust the slider. All the objects within the group will be affected simultaneously.

After – Opacity reduced to 50%, partially revealing the yellow background layer

How To Change The Opacity Of Tools & Gradients In Photoshop

First, grab the Brush Tool in the Toolbar (B). To change the opacity of a brush, go up to the Options Bar. Then, drag the Opacity slider to the left to decrease the opacity or to the right to increase it.

Alternatively, press any number between 0 to 9 on your keyboard to set the desired opacity percentage. For example, press five if you want the opacity to be 50%.

Note: To adjust the opacity of a gradient, select the Gradient Tool (G) from the toolbar and adjust the settings as needed. Then, use the Opacity slider in the Options Bar to adjust the gradient’s opacity.

Brush Tool opacity at 100%, 50%, and 20%, respectively.

How To Change Layer Style Opacity In Photoshop

First, you need to select your desired layer. In my case, that is the text layer.

Then, double-click on your desired layer to open the Layer Styles panel. All of the effects available are listed on the left side of the panel. Almost all of the layer style options have the opacity adjustment option. All you need to do is drag the Opacity slider to the left or to the right as needed. 

You can also use this panel to reduce the Fill Opacity, which is a great way to create outline text in Photoshop.

How To Change Layer Mask Opacity In Photoshop

Once you have added a Layer Mask to a layer, ensure the layer mask is selected and grab the Brush Tool in the toolbar (B). To adjust the opacity, click on the foreground color swatch in the Toolbar to open the color picker panel.  Once you’re there, enter the hex color code #808080.

Note: Layer masks work with black and white, where black hides the layer and white reveals the layer. This means you can paint a layer mask any shade of gray to change its opacity.

With your color chosen, click OK. Now, click and drag with the brush anywhere on the target layer. When you do this, the content of the target layer will be half-visible and half-hidden. As a result, the opacity of the layer mask will be 50%.

A black and white adjustment layer over an image, with a Layer Mask of 50% opacity to reduce the intensity of the adjustment layer.

By changing the color of the brush you use on a layer mask, you can be more selective with how the opacity of your image is adjusted. For example, you could paint a 50% grey brush in one part of your mask while painting 20% grey in another section.

So now you know how to change the opacity of anything in Photoshop. Whether it be text, images, layers, or layer masks, you’re all set to edit the transparency of assets in your projects.

Happy Editing!

Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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