Whether you’re building a new brand or running an already-successful business, quick and easy photo edits are a must—especially image transparency.

Below, you’ll learn how to make a picture transparent in just a few clicks and then get some inspiration for when and why you might want to play with image transparency.

How to Make a Picture Transparent in 3 Quick Steps

You don’t need any design experience or specialized software to make a transparent image! Hop over to the Shutterstock Create editor and follow the instructions below.

1. Open the Create Editor

Instagram template with a peaceful woman in a forest and text about eliminating negative energy
Follow along by opening the same Instagram template!

Go to the Create homepage to create a custom project, or browse the template library to find a ready-made design to start with. 

2. Upload Your Photo (or Grab a Stock Image)

Screenshot of uploading or choosing an image in Shutterstock Create editor
Add your own photo or use ours.

Click Images > Upload if you want to add a new photo, or stick with the photo included in your template.

Alternatively, replace the template’s image with one of our millions of super-versatile stock photos. The choice is yours!

3. Adjust the Transparency

Screenshot of how to make a picture transparent in Shutterstock Create editor
Edit the Fade to your heart’s content.

Next, here’s how to make the picture transparent:

  1. Select the image on your canvas.
  2. Click Edit Image from the top menu.
  3. From the left submenu, click Fade & Blend under Creative Effects.
  4. Drag the Fade slider to the right to make the picture more transparent. 
  5. Click Apply to finalize your changes.

That’s it! You can continue making other edits to your design if you’d like. Once you’re finished, export it as a PNG, JPEG, or PDF

How to Make a Picture Background Transparent

Facebook cover image template with an athletic woman wearing headphones resting
Achieve this template’s effect by removing the background entirely.

By following the instructions above, you’ll reduce the opacity of the entire picture.

If you want to make only the background of an image transparent—as shown in the example above—then you’ll want to remove the background instead with the premium Creative Flow+ Background Remover tool. (Don’t worry, it’s just as easy to do!)

Check out these resources for step-by-step instructions and even more inspiration:

5 Reasons to Use a Transparent Image

Now you know how to make a picture transparent, but you might still be wondering: Why use this photo effect in the first place? How might transparent images help elevate brand assets and other designs?

Here are five reasons you might want to create a transparent image. . . .

1. To Make Text More Legible

Instagram Story template with light image of beauty products and black text
A more transparent image makes the dark text pop in this Instagram Story template

One of the most common reasons to reduce image transparency is to increase legibility when text is layered on top of the image. By making the image more transparent, words are often much easier to read.

Pro tip: Another way to make text more legible is to place a dark overlay over the photo. In Create, add a rectangle over the image, set it to a dark color, and then adjust the rectangle’s Fade until you like the look.

2. To Add Interesting Texture

Business card template with teal shape, paper texture, and text for a writer
With this business card template, a light paper texture adds visual interest.

Place a texture behind a photo and then adjust the photo’s transparency so that a little (or a lot!) of the texture shines through. This is great for subtly altering the look of a picture to make it look more aged, distressed, or otherwise three-dimensional.

You can also try this tip the other way around: add a photo of a texture and then adjust its transparency to have the texture cast on the other design elements.

3. To Make the Image More Subtle

Facebook template with stylish woman and photo of yellow flowers
In this Facebook template, the lighter flower photo provides a nice contrast to the woman.

Want to showcase a photo in your design without having it draw too much attention? Reducing the transparency can maintain the visual interest of imagery but keep it from becoming the star of the show. 

This effect works especially well when images are used as a frame, thematic accent, or background element. In other words, if an image is being used more for decoration (e.g. as a pop of color or texture) than for essential meaning.

Pro tip: You can achieve a similar result by blurring the image instead. Blurred images often look artsy and elevated as they mimic the effect of professional photo equipment. 

4. To Add Color

Facebook sale template with smiling artist, orange overlay, and text for SALE
Mimic the look of this Facebook sale template by playing with transparency and color.

By placing a photo in front of a colored background and then reducing the transparency, you can create some really interesting color effects.

You can also adjust the blend mode of the photo (under the same Fade & Blend menu mentioned above) to quickly achieve wildly different looks.

Pro tip: Create has lots of other ways to play with image color, too. Try replacing colors within a photo itself or using the built-in photo editing tools to adjust the hue and saturation.

5. To Create Depth

Music poster template with red and blue headphones and cut out text effect
This poster template uses imagery, transparency, and color to create a very cool effect.

Reduce the transparency of two or more images and then layer them on top of one another to achieve a totally new look.

By combining this strategy with the one just above—playing with color and blend mode—you can quickly mimic the look of screen printing, digital glitching, or other trendy design techniques.

Ready to Make a Picture Transparent?

Head over to Create and make your transparent images in no time. From Instagram Stories to business cards, there are endless ways to incorporate transparent imagery into a successful brand.

Start building it now in Shutterstock Create!

License this cover image mockup via Cast Of Thousands and Christiana Mustion.

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