I'm trying to fill an area selected by the magic wand, but I keep getting pixels that are transparent. Below is an area that's supposed to be filled with red, but there are clearly many pixels that are transparent. Does anyone know why this is the case?

enter image description here enter image description here

  • How are you selecting the area? Can't use simply use a brush and paint in the areas that are missing?
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2019 at 17:29
  • @Scott I'm just using the magic wand to select the area. I wonder why the opacity of the filled area isn't consistent.
    – John M.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 17:39
  • Probably because the magic wand is seeing variations in color/hue/luminosity and the tolerance is set to not select variations outside a specific range. The magic wand will typically leave "holes" unless the area being clicked is a solid, flat, color.
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2019 at 18:04
  • @Scott The transparent areas aren't actually "holes". Those areas are fully selected by the wand. You can zoom in to see the holes, but there are fully selected areas that are filled with a <100% opacity.
    – John M.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 18:09
  • They aren't fully selected.
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2019 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


I can understand the confusion.

In Photoshop selections below 50% opacity will not show the "marching ants". It is entirely possible to have an area selected in part, but see no "marching ants". Simply because there are no "marching ants" it doesn't mean there is no selection or that there is a complete selection.

Areas which are below 50% opacity can be part of an overall selection. However they are not completely selected - only a percent of the area is selected.

If you then "fill" the selection, only the percent which is selected is filled. The area won't be filled 100%.

enter image description here

This merely how the Magic Wand tool works. Sometimes you can increase the Tolerance of the Magic Wand tool in the Control Bar to select more areas. But there are times when that won't really help.

Using a selection method which is not based upon the click of color/luminosity is generally better, if that is an option. For well defined areas often the Polygonal Lasso or Pen Tool can work better. Even Quick Mask using a brush may create a better selection.

The Magic Wand tool, in my experience, is really only useful as a starting point which will need to be refined with a brush (Quick Mask/Layer Mask) or when the area being selected is a solid, flat color.

  • Oh! I didn't know the magic wand would only partially select an area. Is there a way to make the magic wand select 100% even the colour/luminosity is within the threshold? I'm actually just trying to paint a bounded area red, e.g., a road, what selection tool would you recommend if the Magic Wand behaves so unpredictably?
    – John M.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 18:49
  • Hi @JohnM. if it were me, after the Magic Wand click, I'd switch to Quick Mask mode (Tap the Q key on the keyboard) and then use a brush to refine the selection. Tap Q again to leave Quick Mask Mode. Or.. use the Pen tool to draw a path around the area I want selected and then use the Path Panel to convert the path to a selection.
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2019 at 18:51
  • Hi @Scott. Thanks. Well, I was hoping for a solution with less manual selection. I thought the Magic Wand could pull it off. I wish there was a way to make the selection binary rather than being faithful to the original image's colour. That's a shame. :(
    – John M.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 19:19
  • You can switch to quick mask and then use Levels or Curves to adjust the selection(mask).
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2019 at 19:23
  • Actually, I think I've found a better solution. If I set Magic Wand's Sample Size to 5 by 5 Average, the whole selection can be painted with a flat colour. Not sure why though.
    – John M.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 19:25

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