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How to Make an Image Transparent on Photoshop

by Brenda Barron on Oct 25, 2018

Need to play around with the transparency of your latest image?

Making an image transparent – even partially, can give you endless ways to enhance your material. For instance, you can combine images to create something new for your customers or add a transparent image to a product for branding reasons.

The question for many beginners in the photo editing world, is how do you make an image transparent?

The simple answer is Photoshop.

Photoshop is a popular image manipulation tool that allows you to add transparency to your photos in a range of different ways. Today, we’re going to look at three different ways you can add transparency to your pictures by discussing how to:

  • Make layers transparent
  • Create transparent selections in photos
  • Create a transparent background
  • Make the most of your transparent images

Let’s begin.

Option 1: Making Layers Transparent

If you’re wondering how to make an image transparent for your portfolio, one easy option is to learn how to make layers transparent. When you make a layer transparent, you can add it to other images, or place it onto products without worrying about background edges and opacity. You can even use layers to touch-up your photos.

  • Select the layer you want to make transparent by clicking on the Layers tab – it looks like a folded page.
  • Select the opacity level in the box that appears at the top of the Layers. The default is 100%, but you can take it as low as 0%.
  • Save your image as a .PNG file to preserve the transparency.

The Photoshop UI, with the Create a new layer button highlighted

Option 2: Creating Transparent Selections

If you want to merge or combine pictures in your portfolio, then you might need to make parts of your layer transparent. To do this, you’ll need to select your layer again like above, but make sure that the layers underneath that image are transparent. Select the area you want to alter using the selection tool, then:

  • Copy the area by right-clicking and choosing Copy
  • Delete the selection with the Del button
  • Paste your copied selection into a new layer
  • Lower the opacity on that layer

A part of the Photoshop UI, highlighting a couple of buttons needed for lowering the opacity of a selection

Option 3: Making a Transparent Background

Maybe you want the focus of your image to be clear and opaque, but the background to be transparent so that you can combine pictures or move the subject of your image elsewhere. To do this, you’ll need to create a transparent background.

  • Click on File, then New in Photoshop and a new window will appear.
  • Go to the section that says, “Background Contents” and select Transparent then click OK
  • Go to your Layers section and make sure it looks like a checkered white and gray box – this will confirm that the layer is transparent.
  • Add your image

The New window in Photoshop, with the Background Contents drop-down box expanded to show the options

Once you place your image into the transparent background, you’ll be able to remove any edges or extra elements from the photo that you also want to be transparent. To do this, click on the Eraser tool or Magic Eraser tool on the left-hand side of the image. Drag the eraser over the areas that you want to make transparent.

Getting the Most out of Your Transparent Photos

Once you’ve learned how to make an image transparent in Photoshop, it’s important to make sure that you can use those images without them accidentally taking on a new background when you open the file. The key is to make sure that your layers don’t merge when you’re saving your Photoshop file.

When saving your new transparent photo, click on the Format drop-down menu and select the PNG option. Choose a location where you’ll be able to easily find your image and hit the Save button.

If you can’t see a PNG file option on your Photoshop documents, then you may be editing your image in the CMYK format, which means that you’ll need to convert it into the RGB mode, so you can save as a PNG file. Don’t save as JPG as this will eliminate all of your hard work.

There you have it – learning how to make an image transparent with Photoshop was probably much easier than you thought! Now you can use your transparent photos to create a stunning selection of pictures to add to your growing portfolio!

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