Differences between opacity, fill and density when using Photoshop

When it comes to working with a photo editing program, Photoshop is undoubtedly the most used worldwide. This tool belongs to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and is characterized by the large number of tools it incorporates, and can even increase its functions through the use of add-ons. One of its most important aspects is the ability to work with layers and brushes. In order to control its visibility we can make use of opacity, fill and density. As each carry out their work in one way, we are going to see what their differences are.

Photoshop allows us to work with an almost unlimited number of layers, which will help us to place a transparent sheet on top of an image or a canvas on which we can draw. In this way we can add more content within the same photo. To work on them, we have the brush tools, mainly used for drawing and painting. From it, we can add, change or delete anything. Among them we find opacity and filling, two of its most important characteristics.

Differences between opacity, fill and density

Both opacity and fill are displayed within the brush tool in numeric percent. This can be changed, both to increase and decrease from a slider, so that we can make the necessary modifications according to our needs. These options are found in the upper right corner of the “Layers” window, which should be located in the lower right part of the screen.

Opacity, sets the visibility of the layer or color

When working with Photoshop, if we intend to make use of the opacity function, we must know that we are going to find it both in the layer and in the brush.

In the cape

In this case, it is responsible for determining the degree to which it hides or shows a layer that is underneath. We find opacity as a slider that we find in the Layers Panel. In this way, we can verify that, if we apply a percentage of 1%, it will appear almost transparent . While, in the opposite case, if we grant it a 100% percentage, we will check how it becomes completely opaque . All the values that we find between both points are the sliding scale that we can graduate until we find the perfect tonality.

Opacidad en Photoshop

If the opacity options are grayed out and we cannot select it, it is possible that we must first unlock the selected layer. We can verify that there will be an icon in the shape of a padlock with the name of the layer, so we must double click on it to unlock it.

Photoshop capa bloqueada

On the brush

In the case of the brush tool, it will control the intensity of the color we have chosen. If we change it to be 0%, the brush will not leave any mark so the layer will be fully visible. In the case that we grant it 100%, it will cause the opposite effect, and the base coat will not be visible, since it will obtain an opaque tone, which is why it is impenetrable by light. It is called opacity because of the controlled pressure that we make on the brush tool. From 50% it will not allow the density of the color to increase, regardless of the color we use.

Fill, controls the transparency of an object

This tool allows us to fill an object, selected area with color, making any of the objects on the layer transparent without affecting the effects made on it. We must bear in mind that the fill only affects the pixels, shapes or text of a layer, but does not affect its opacity. We can apply effects from its panel such as a stroke, shadow, bevel, emboss or outer glow, but these will not be altered when we modify their percentage.

Relleno en Photoshop

If we want the effects to have transparency we must change them from the “Layer Style” window. Here we find its section and by default it is 100%. We can change it by entering the desired value numerically or by clicking on the down arrow, a sliding bar appears from which to adjust its intensity.

Relleno del 50% en una capa con Photoshop

As we have discussed, it will only make it transparent over the layer’s fill itself and it will not change any effects that have been added to that layer. By removing fill we get it to become more transparent without changing the effects that we have added. A common use for applying this effect is photography and graphics with watermarks. To do this, it would be necessary to apply a text emboss and bevel effect and then reduce it from the layer to 0%

And the density of a mask?

A mask is responsible for selectively controlling the visibility of the different areas of each layer, making the black areas more translucent. Each mask only affects the layer it is attached to. The areas of the mask that are black hide the respective area in the original layer, while the white masks reveal those areas of the original layer. While gray will show or hide areas partially depending on the tone we use. The darker the shadow, the more the layer will fade. The density of the mask basically takes care of just for opacity. By keeping a layer selected, we can access the slider from the “Properties” panel itself. To do this, we will double click on the canvas of our mask. Once in the Properties, we can modify its density and fading. We will also find the option to ” Define border” and ” Color range” , which will help us to adjust and adapt the mask according to our needs.

Trabajar con la densidad de la máscara de capas en Photoshop

From here we can control this density according to the percentage. For example, at 100% any black in the mask would be completely opaque, while in the case of white it would be transparent. At 0%, black would be completely visible, while white would be more opaque. Depending on this, we can play with the percentage, because as we reduce it we will see how the blacks of the mask become more transparent, while at 50% they are set to a medium gray. In addition, we must bear in mind that this operation is not destructive, so that at any time we can restore the opacity of the mask without losing quality.