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Fill vs. Opacity in PS Layers

One of the things that many designers always seem to miss (mostly because we never read the manuals!) is the difference between Opacity and Fill. The difference can be subtle or extreme, depending on the effect you're looking for.

Create a layer and put an object or some text on it. Now apply a layer effect such as Outer Glow. (See image below)


Now adjust the Opacity setting of the layer you want to adjust (in this case, the blue box) to something that will be obvious, like 30% (See image below)


Notice that the entire layer, including the outer glow effect are faded to 30%. But maybe I only want the box itself faded. That's easy, simply leave the opacity set to 100%, but set the Fill to 30%. This will fade the box, but leave the outer glow alone. (See image below)


There you go. Now your layer effects are untouched. If you didn't know you had this control over your layers and effects, you were probably going under the layers menu, and creating a seperate layer out of the outer glow layer effect so that you could adjust them seperately (much like I was for a long time!)

This adjustment can offer some interesting results, such as when you set the layer Fill to 0% (See image below)


Remember, Opacity affects the ENTIRE layer, while Fill affects ONLY the object on the layer, not the effects you may have applied to it.

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Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

mdc's picture

*very* nice tip. i had no idea what the difference was.

Jess's picture

Great tip -- thanks for clarifying this. I have looked at the command for Fill a bunch of times, but never really dug in to what it does...

Ivan's picture

Thanks! I never knew what it was. As you say, I never read the manual. That would kill all the fun. :)

Shel's picture

Wow everytime I see that I wonder but have never investigated. Thanks I can do a lot with it.

Anonymous's picture

A fill set to 0 is commonly used in Styles which are glass effects and certain emboss effects.

Hörður's picture

funny to see this here now... just figured out the difference by chance a couple of days ago. still... very usefull info.

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