Using the opacity slider


One of the simplest tools to use in Photoshop programs is the opacity slider. If your not familiar with what it is, the opacity slider is a way to adjust the opaque-ness or “see-through-ness” (sounds like an official term, right?) of an item.

Here’s an example:

I opened up a paper and put a photo on top of it. I have not made any adjustments to opacity yet.


Now if I have the photo selected as a layer and I use the opacity button to get to the slider, I can change it to whatever level of “see-through-ness” aka opaqueness that I want.



This is what my photo looks like at 50% opacity.



Why is this useful? Take a look at what I can create with just a little sliding around! No blending, no special tricks, all I did was to lower the opacity on the photo and let some of the background paper show through. Super easy!


By the Sea by Flergs & Kay Miller


What else do I use the opacity slider for? Making sure my fonts don’t float! I don’t use the full Photoshop program so I can’t use the tip in this post, but I have a quick workaround for it in Photoshop Elements. When I add a text layer on top of a paper or photo, I simply lower the opacity on the text just a little bit to make it look like it is written (or even stamped) right onto the paper.

Here’s an example of text typed on a background paper with no opacity change.

humanity no opacity

By the Sea by Flergs & Kay Miller. Lobster font.


You can see how the word just kind of sits on top of the paper.



Now I lower the opacity to 80%, the text looks like it blends a bit more with the paper. If you were to color on a real piece of paper with a marker, there would be a bit of bleed-through or even an indentation from a ballpoint pen. It’s more natural for our eye to see that the words are part of the page.



I also liked the softened color with the opacity change.

humanity 80 opacity


Finally, the task I probably use the opacity slider the most for is to just lighten up an intense color a bit. The red paper on the background of this page is just a little too bright for the photo and title.

sweet memories bright

Kristin Aagard Santa’s Little Helper. Cindy Schneider layered December titles.


I put a cream colored paper under the red paper in the stack. You can also use a white or even a light beige or grey paper for this trick – just experiment a bit.


When I lower the opacity on the red paper, the color is softened up by the cream color underneath being able to show through a bit. This is very subtle, but it makes a difference. Here’s what it looks like with the red at 85%.

sweet memories softened

I like to use a lighter color paper underneath from the same kit in case I want to lower the opacity a lot. That way, the texture that shows through matches the look of the kit.

Here’s what it looks like with the red paper reduced to a 50% opacity level. This is a great way to get more color choices out of your kits!

sweet memories 50


Next time something doesn’t look quite right on your layout, try playing around with the opacity slider. You’ll be surprised at what a big difference a little sliding can make!

katie big