How to Change Opacity in Adobe Illustrator

Has it ever happened to you that the text content doesn’t show well on the background image and you had to add a shape underneath the text to make it readable? Not a bad idea, but sometimes solid color with 100% opacity can look too bold. Playing with the opacity can make the elements blend well. 

The default opacity when you create an object, place an image or add text in Adobe Illustrator is 100%, but you can change the opacity in the Appearance panel or Transparency panel. 

There isn’t an Opacity panel. The closest option you get is the Transparency panel. Basically, it’s the same thing. Lowering the opacity makes objects more transparent. 

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to quickly change the opacity and different blending modes that you can use to show transparent effects.

Let’s jump in! 

Note: the screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC 2022 Mac version. Windows or other versions can look different. 

Changing Opacity in 2 Steps

Actually, you don’t have to open the Appearance panel or Transparency panel if you only want to change lower the transparency of an object. Simply select the object that you want to change the opacity of, and the opacity option will show on the Properties > Appearance panel. 

For example, let’s change the opacity of the rectangle underneath the text so that it can blend in more with the background image. 

Step 1: Select the rectangle and the Appearance panel should automatically show on the Properties panel. From there, you can see an Opacity option.

Step 2: Click on the right arrow next to the value (100%) and you’ll see a slider. Move it left to lower the opacity. If you have an exact number in mind, you can also click on the value box to type in the opacity value manually. 

For example, I’ve set the opacity to 47% and now you can see the background image is showing through the rectangle. 

That’s it! This is the quickest way to change opacity in Adobe Illustrator. 

Besides changing the opacity, you can also adjust the blending mode. If you want to change the blending mode as well, keep reading. 

Changing Blending Mode

You can change the blending mode by clicking on the Opacity option on the Appearance panel or opening the Transparency panel. Both ways work the same. 

If you click on Opacity, you will see a new panel that looks like this: 

The option next to Opacity is the Blending Mode. 

You can also open the Transparency panel from the overhead menu Window > Transparency

If you click on the down arrow, it will show you the blending options. With the object selected, simply choose a blending option that you like. 

For example, if you choose Multiply, even when the Opacity is 100%, the object will blend into the background. 

If it’s not transparent enough, you can lower the opacity accordingly. 

Feel free to explore the blending options. Some options will change the color of the original object. For example, If you choose Overlay the color changes together with the opacity.  

Conclusion

If you want to make something transparent, the quickest way to change the opacity of an object is from the Properties > Appearance panel. But you must select an object for the panel to show because the Appearance panel will not be activated when nothing is selected. 

Changing the blending mode can also change the opacity but in a more diverse way. Feel free to explore the blending options. 

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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