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What's the difference between Fill and Opacity?

Added on Thursday 18th of June 2009 12:26 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Can you explain what the difference is between the Fill and Opacity options on the Layers panel? I usually change the Opacity setting but noticed when I change the Fill setting, I get the same effect. So now I’m confused as to what’s the difference.


The Opacity option’s primary purpose is to control a working layer’s transparency level. As you’ve discovered, the Fill option does seem to perform the same task as Opacity, however there’s a little more to it.

When you set the Opacity value for a selected layer, the change applies to the entire layer. This means that any layer styles and blending modes applied to the layer are also affected. When you set the Fill value, however, only painted pixels and vector shapes are affected.

For example, Figure A shows an example with a shape layer and a drop shadow layer style. When we change the opacity to 25%, as shown in Figure B, both the fill pixels inside the shape and the drop shadow reflect this change. However, as shown in Figure C, when we change the Fill to 25%, the fill pixels reflect this change but the drop shadow layer style remains unchanged.



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