A layer has Opacity 100%. However, using a soft erase brush to feather the edges of an item, I've accidentally made too much of the layer partially transparent.

My recollection is that there'd be a layer mask that is less than full value, but "Add Layer Mask" is showing a new, fully-white mask.

When I right click on the thumbnail on the Layers palette, the "Add/Subtract/Intersect Transparency Mask" options are grayed out.

  • Not sure I understand your question fully, but if you used the eraser tool, then there is nothing to restore (unless you can undo to that point, or if you saved the file before deleting). The eraser tool doesn't create a mask, it erases pixels completely and is destructive. The obvious answer would have been to use a layer mask to create the feathering instead.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 29, 2018 at 10:43
  • 1
    Which CS4 application are you referring to? Photoshop? Illustrator? Fireworks?
    – Scott
    Dec 29, 2018 at 17:55
  • @Scott although not explicitly mentioned, I would assume Photoshop. Though, the user really should specify.
    – Welz
    Dec 30, 2018 at 1:01
  • @WELZ If it were CC, or even CS6, I'd assume Photoshop, but for CS4 Fireworks is a very viable option....
    – Scott
    Dec 30, 2018 at 3:50
  • "if you used the eraser tool, then there is nothing to restore." Perhaps if you erase 100%. But if you set opacity or hardness to <100%, then makes the original pixels somewhat transparent while still obviously keeping the RGB pixel values. I don't see that PSCS4 makes that transparency channel you. Maybe it does and I can't find it. Or maybe it doesn't. But it's something that basically works exactly like an additional mask. Dec 30, 2018 at 5:06

1 Answer 1


If the layer was the background, it's not fixable because the colors are replaced. Also other layers can be non-fixable, if the opacity is excatly zero. In that case Photoshop wipes the RGB information off. But partially transparent layer areas have all colors intact. Make several copies of that layer and merge them. The opacity, where it's not exact zero, rebuilds itself as you add more copies.

Newer Photoshops have Layer > Layer Mask > Mask from Transparency. It's at least in CS5. If that happens to be in your version, use it and edit the layer mask. I have never used CS4, but as far as I know that option doesn't exist in CS4

There's also the channel editing route (=change alpha back to 255), but that's probably easier in GIMP, because that channel (as commented) isn't shown in the normal Photoshop CS4 user interface. Some underhood knowledge, programming skills or a third party add-on is needed. At least The PluginSite has had in their Photo Freebie collection Transparency Remover Plugin. The PluginSite is still in business, but I am not sure do they keep available legacy stuff.

I took a simple PSD from Photoshop to GIMP. It has 2 layers, the top layer is partially erased and the bottom layer is seen through. The opacity isn't exact zero anywhere. If it was zero, this wouldn't work.

enter image description here

The top layer can be fixed to fully opaque by applying levels to the alpha channel of the top layer. All alpha values are lifted to 255:

enter image description here

The transparency vanishes totally. I suggest you make the next edge fading attempt with a layer mask. It's easily editable in Photoshop.

A little more advanced way in GIMP is to paint white to the alpha channel and see how the opacity returns. Only select the problem layer in the Layers panel and the alpha channel in the Channels panel and paint. I think this method fits well to tuning your manually drawn edge fadings.

You can make a PSD which contains only the problematic layer and fix it in GIMP. Remember, that GIMP knows nothing about advanced PSD features such as layer styles or adjustment layers.

Cycling an image through 2 programs has a trap: Different color settings can cause automatic unwanted color changes. It's good to be sure that both use the same mode and profile. As well you can switch all color management actions off temporarily.

  • "the channel editing route (=change alpha back to 255), but that's probably easier in GIMP." Easier? Or, only possible? In PSCS4 you can go to Channels palette, but there's only RGB. There's no transparency/alpha channel in the case at least of the layer in question. Dec 30, 2018 at 5:11

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