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Here's the secret to lowering a layer mask's opacity

Added on Thursday 22nd of May 2008 07:23 am EST
 
Application:
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

Is there a way to lower a layer mask’s opacity? I know I can just reduce the brush opacity as I paint on the mask, but I ran into an instance where I completed the mask and then wanted to reduce the mask’s opacity, but couldn’t figure out how. The layer Opacity slider reduces the opacity for the actual layer, but not the layer mask. If there’s a way to do this, I’d love to hear how!
You’re right that the layer Opacity slider reduces the layer’s opacity, but not the mask’s. You can reduce the mask’s opacity; it just takes a little creative thinking. Remember that a layer mask is nothing more than a grayscale image. To lower the mask’s opacity, you need to lower the mask’s pixel’s output values. For this, we’ll use a Levels adjustment.
           To follow along with our example, download the file layeropacity.zip from the URL given at the beginning of this article and extract the file heart.psd. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.) Then, launch Photoshop and open the file, shown in Figure A.




A

If you select the Hearts And Flowers layer and adjust the layer Opacity slider in the Layers palette, you’ll notice the carnation heart fades out and the blue background ...