Working with Alpha Channels to achieve transparency

Hi All,

I have racked my brain trying to figure out how to get a layer underneath to show through when painting on the layer above. I have turned off and on alphas, (set to full on, selection, source alpha...)

Can someone please walk me through the steps and settings to enable me to paint on layers and have all show through full opacity? 

I am sure this is a simple fix, but I am used to transparencies in layers so I am sure I am missing something.


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Maybe I could not understand your meaning because of my English, but with these options I think there is not any limitation in layers. (only you can not save your layers to "Layered PSD files".)

hi heather, I did not use layers often:

layer 1 replace 100%
layer 2 replace 100%
I paint on layer 2 and can look through to layer 1
If I mute layer 2 in the layer-menu I see only the content of layer 1

perhaps this helps


heather: forget this post, it#s nonsens;-) Layer 2 is only a copy of layer 1, so it´s not real a view through, so I had to trial and error with this issue too now, sorry, may be JD could guide us?

HI Max,

Thanks for the reply.

What I am looking for is how to replicate transparent layers like photoshop. For instance, I paint on layer 1. I then paint a little bit more on layer 2. When I paint on layer 2, wherever I don't paint, the layer below shows through without using min or max or etc. I'd like it to just be transparent so whatever I am painting lays on top and the rest underneath shows through. The best way to describe it would like painting on layers of glass so whatever layer I am on the background shows through, true color and opacity. I'd like SA to act like I am painting on layers of glass, instead of a white or black background. I hope that makes sense, it is hard to explain.

Hi Heather, I think SA doesn't support transparent layers in that traditional photoshop-, artrage-, painter, affinityphoto-, etc.-way, so it complicate your desired operations.

I've tested a method with "current view as new layer"
(Canvas: Layer: Current view as new Layer)
so I paint on layer 1, next current view as new layer; paint on this, etc...
I personally did't need this, but it works for this test as a expedient.
(sure you could not do really subsequent changes in it and this is not what you want)

You should request "New transparent Layer" as a feature request for 6


You can paint in alpha enabled layers in Studio Artist.

You won't see a checkerboard background for a non-painted alpha-off layer. So that's the thing that is different from those other programs. That and the fact that they always have alpha enabled.

Solid color shows through instead of the checkerboard in Studio Artist. You can set that color that does show through in Canvas : Alpha : Background : Set to menus. Not seeing the checkerboard is what i think is throwing you. try the gray option maybe to help distinguish.

You need to have alpha view enabled (canvas : alpha : enable for view). And you need to have Canvas : Alpha : Paint Synth Alpha Enable on if you want the paint synthesizer to draw into the alpha channel as well as the normal RGB channels.

The most common error is not erasing the alpha channel in the layer before you start painting into it. The normal erase menus set the alpha full on for the layer, and set the RGB to the erase color. use the Full Erase command (Canvas : Full Erase menu). that also erases the alpha channel.

You can use the view options for the current layer to View Cur Alpha Only if you need to debug what is going on. This will show you what is in the alpha channel.

More layer. Sorry for the delay in answering. Dealing with an incoming hurricane in Hawaii right now.

Again, here a tip.

Suggest you work with simple paint presets while figuring out how to work with painting with alpha enabled. Shift click the Init button at the bottom of the Editor in paint synth op mode, and you will re-initialize the paint. Good place to start.

Dave Nagel made a bunch of paint presets specifically to use for alpha enabled painting (including alpha enabled erasers). they are probably archived on this site. I can dig them up for you. Depending on how a particular paint preset is configured, you might want to tweak it if you are working with alpha. 

"The most common error is not erasing the alpha channel in the layer before you start painting into it. The normal erase menus set the alpha full on for the layer, and set the RGB to the erase color. use the Full Erase command (Canvas : Full Erase menu). that also erases the alpha channel."

I checked this out and tested again, this works well, thankYou!

Thank you for the reply. I have requested, as have some others.  


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