I am working in Photoshop. I have a black icon on a transparent background that I would like to "invert"--I would like to make the transparent areas white, and the black areas transparent. By following along with this tutorial I managed to mask my image and turn the black areas transparent and the previously transparent areas to white, preserving the semitransparent pixels.

I would like to now set the black pixels to white, but when I use "Invert" it inverts the fully black pixels to white, but the semitransparent gray pixels remain gray. How can I invert the semitransparent pixels as well? I want them to be white-transparent instead of black-transparent.

  • That is the worst step-by-step I have ever read.
    – user21098
    Mar 25, 2014 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Add a white filled layer behind your 'black icon on transparent' layer and also an empty layer above them both. On the empty layer, create a layer mask Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

Ctrl+A select all and Ctrl+Shift+C copy the combined image (All layers - should be a black icon on white bg). Now Alt+click` the layer mask icon attached to your empty top layer (in layers panel). This will put you in direct edit mode for that layer mask. select all again and Ctrl+V paste the black and white result of the copy you just made. Exit out of direct layer editing by clicking on the layer instead. Now fill the empty layer with white and hide the other layers. This will result in your desired transparent icon on white background.

  • 1
    What john is describing is this: a mask is a black-to-white (greyscale) image used for defining transparency. You are taking advantage of the fact that the original image when placed upon a whit background conforms to the greyscale description of an alpha mask. Then you apply this mask to a different color layer to get the result you indicated.
    – horatio
    Oct 29, 2013 at 14:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.