Tutorial: What is a Transparency?

August 27, 2015

What is the difference between an Overlay and a Transparency?  They both can provide texture; a grungy, shabby, or distressed look; or even a pattern, based upon their creators intent and design. Here’s the difference:

  • Greyscale overlays are saved in jpg format, and there are no transparent areas visible in them.
  • Transparencies are saved in png format, and there is transparency visible in them.

Both overlays and transparencies have a place in my digi-scrap stash.   They both can give different results, depending on what colors you are working with, what textures are involved, and most importantly, what blending modes are applied.

Below is an example of a transparency giving the same look as a jpg overlay.

For the example on the left, I placed the Distressed Transparency Set 3, #4 over a Nature Hike Kit paper; I changed the Blend Mode of the Transparency to Soft Light.

I next  placed the Distressed Transparency Set 3, #4 over a solid layer of gray color and merged the 2 layers. This turned the Transparency into a jpg overlay. Now I was ready to compare the transparency to the jpg overlay.

I placed my newly-created jpg overlay on a layer above the same Nature Hike paper and changed the blend mode of the overlay to Soft Light, as in the Transparency example. As you can see, there is virtually no difference here.


But, by using the Divide Blend Mode, we get a totally different look.  The Transparency is on the left, and the jpg overlay is on the right.  The Divide Blend mode is only affecting the solid areas of the Transparency itself, allowing the Nature Hike paper to show through beautifully.  The Divide Blend Mode looks different when using the jpg, because the entire overlay is affected, since there is no transparency on the greyscale overlay.


Sometimes a transparency is best. Sometimes a jpg is best.  Experimentation is the key… and the fun!

Using Transparencies is a GREAT way to stretch your digi-stash!  Place them over any background paper to create a different, or complimentary paper.


My new Distressed Transparencies, which wer used in this demonstration, are being offered at an introductory savings of 30%, while the entire Collection is available at a 40% savings.

Available at:

SnickerdoodleDesigns     theStudio     CUDigitals


Did you pick up the Distressed Transparency Sample I had on my blog yesterday?  If not, here it is again for you. Just click on the image to download.


Have fun experimenting!

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  1. Stacey

    thanks so much for explaining. I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess i’m just going to have to experiment with different blending modes, to see which effect I like best.

  2. CraftCrave | DigiFree | CraftCrave

    […] What is a Transparency? – 2 freebie(s) Tagged with: craftcrave • DigiFree • digifreebies • digital scrapbooking • free • freebies • photoshop • scrapbook • scrapbooking  If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it! Add Comment Register […]

  3. Dona

    Thank you for the great transparency!

  4. Esther

    Thanks for this transparency. xx

  5. Annette

    thanks for the tutorial (and the freebie) – this is something I needed a little more clarification on! 😉

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