Difference between Fill and Opacity

One of the most popular questions that I get from users, and not just beginners: “What is the difference between the parameters Opacity (Opacity) and Fill (Fill) in the layers panel? Is it not the same thing? ” Good question, because in many cases they are really the same.

Both parameters and Opacity (Opacity) and Fill (Fill) affect the transparency of the layer. They control how far the current layer will show through the layers of the document below. Usually in order to increase the transparency of the layer, we reduce it Opacity (Opacity). But also the parameter Fill (Fill) also performs this function.

So what is the reason for the existence of two parameters that perform the same function? Surely there must be some difference! Of course! The main difference between the parameters Opacity (Opacity) and Fill (Fill) visible when working with Layer styles (Layer Styles) in Photoshop.

If you have never applied effects (styles) to a layer before, such as Stroke (Stroke), Shadow (Drop Shadow), Stamping (Bevel and Emboss) or External glow (Outer Glow), the result from the application Fillings (Fill) and Opacity (Opacity) was the same. If, on the contrary, you apply one or more layer styles, the difference in the application of the parameter Fill (Fill) and Opacity (Opacity) is great. Let’s look at this with an example.

Here is an image opened in Photoshop, I added a plain text to it – the word “dream”. The image itself was taken from a bank of photos of Fotolia.

Original image.

If we look at the layers panel, we see that the photo with the girl is located on the background layer, and the layer with the word “dream” is located directly above it (an arch in the form of a word was created by writing text on the contour). Create a copy of the text layer, temporarily disable it.

The layers panel displays the background layer, the text layer above it, and a copy of the layer at the very top, which is temporarily hidden.

Parameter Opacity (Opacity) is located in the upper right corner of the layers panel, and Fill (Fill) right below it. By default, the value of both parameters is set to 100%. This means that the text on the active layer is fully displayed in the document.

Opacity and Fill are set to 100%.

Let’s see what happens if we reduce Opacity (Opacity) up to 50%.

Reduce layer opacity up to 50%.

When the value of the parameter Opacity (Opacity), set to 50%, the word “dream” in our document has become 50% transparent, allowing the image below to be slightly visible through the text.

Image after lowering the Opacity value of the text to 50%.

Now I will return the parameter back Opacity (Opacity) to the value of 100% and this time will reduce the value of the parameter Fill (Fill) up to 50%.

Lowering the Fill value to 50%.

When the value of the parameter Fill(Fill) set to 50%, the text also becomes 50% transparent, and we get exactly the same result as reducing the value of the parameter Opacity (Opacity):

Lowering the Fill value gives the same result.

So, the differences between the parameters Opacity (Opacity) and Fill (Fill) we do not see, but it was on a layer without applying Layer styles (Layer Styles). Let’s see what happens if we apply the changes to another layer. I turn off the layer by clicking on the layer visibility icon.

Turn off the original text layer.

Then I click on the copy of the text layer located at the very top and make it visible.

Select and enable a copy of the text layer.

This layer contains the same text as the previous one, but with one big difference – I added several layer styles to it: Stroke (Stroke), Shadow (Drop Shadow) and Stamping (Bevel and Emboss). We see a stroke around the text and a shadow behind it. The effect of embossing at the moment is difficult to consider, since the text is completely filled with white.

Same text, but with a few added effects.

I will expand the list of effects in the layers panel by clicking on the small arrow to the right of “fx”, so that you can see that I really applied Layer styles (Layer Styles) Stroke (Stroke), Shadow (Drop Shadow) and Stamping (Bevel and Emboss) to text.

View the effects added to the text.

Let’s see what will happen with the new layer if we lower the parameter Opacity (Opacity) up to 50%.

Reducing the value of the Opacity parameter to 50%.

Lowering the level Opacity (Opacity) of the new layer, we increase the transparency of all its contents by 50%. By “everything” I mean not only the text, but also Layer styles (Layer Styles) applied to it.

A decrease in the Opacity value means that everything on the active layer becomes 50% transparent, incl. Layer Styles (Layer Styles).

So far, nothing new. I return the parameter Opacity (Opacity) value of 100% and now I lower to 50% the value of the parameter Fill (Fill).

Lowering the Fill value to 50%.

This is where the difference between Opacity (Opacity) and By casting (Fill). Reduced parameter value Opacity (Opacity) makes everything transparent at 50%, and the value of the parameter Fill (Fill) applies only to the text itself. Layer styles (Layer Styles), which I applied, are 100% visible. Effects Stroke (Stroke), Shadow (Drop Shadow) and Stamping (Bevel and Emboss). Please note that we have clearly seen and applied effect. Stamping (Bevel and Emboss).

The Fill value makes the text transparent, but does not affect its effects (layer styles).

Lower the Fill value to 0% and see what happens.

Reducing the fill value (Fill) to 0%.

When the value of the parameter Fill (Fill) set to 0% the text becomes completely transparent, but Layer styles (Layer Styles) are visible in full. Fill (Fill) does not affect the layer styles at all, allowing me to create interesting effects that cannot be achieved with the parameter Opacity (Opacity).

Now the text is 100% transparent, and layer styles are 100% visible.

This is the difference between the parameters. Fill (Fill) and Opacity (Opacity). Opacity (Opacity) affects everything, including Layer styles (Layer Styles). Fill (Fill), on the contrary, affects only the content of the layer (in my case, the text). Layer styles, which Photoshop separates from the actual layer content, remain 100% visible and are not affected by the setting. Fill (Fill).

As I mentioned at the beginning, in most cases when you need to increase the layer transparency, simply decrease the value of the parameter Opacity (Opacity). And if you want to keep 100% visible Layer styles (Layer Styles), as in the case of our example with the text, leave the parameter Opacity (Opacity) in the value of 100% and reduce the value of the parameter Fill (Fill).

That’s all!

Author: Steve Patterson

Transfer: Antsyperovich Alexandra

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