Photoshop Tip: How To Make Part Of A Layer Transparent

Usually when you change the opacity of a layer in Photoshop using the Opacity slider at the top of the Layers panel, the WHOLE layer changes to that opacity. There may be times though, when you want only a small part of one layer to be transparent or semi-transparent. The trick, my friends is that you need to firstly select the part of the layer that you want to adjust the transparency of and then make your adjustment. AND for this trick you don’t use the opacity slider on the layers panel, but rather a Fill command from the Edit menu. Read on to see how quick and easy it is.

Here is a handy way to change the opacity of just a selected part of any layer. If you’re new to Photoshop and making selections, check out my Beginners Guide to Photoshop Selections.

1. With your image open in Photoshop – and I’m using this nice quadrant style picture of The Beatles – make a selection around the area you want to change the Opacity on. I’ve used the rectangular marquee tool to draw a square around Paul McCartney.
Photoshop Make Part Of Layer Transparent 1

2. Choose Edit > Fill and set the Blending Mode to Clear. Set the Opacity to the percentage you want – I chose 50% here.

Photoshop Make Part Of Layer Transparent 2

3. Click OK. The selected part of your layer is now semi transparent while the remainder of your file stays at 100%.

By the way I have nothing against Paul McCartney 🙂

Photoshop Make Part Of Layer Transparent 3


I hope you’ve found this Photoshop quick tip useful and I would be really grateful if you would share it. Thank you so much! 🙂


Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is an illustrator, designer, author and design teacher based in Ireland. She has been teaching design for over 14 years and helps people learn Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom,Illustrator and graphic design skills to improve their job prospects and their business.

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