By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

A fill layer lets you add a layer of solid color, a gradient, or a pattern. Like adjustment layers, fill layers also include layer masks. You can edit, rearrange, duplicate, delete, and merge fill layers similarly to adjustment layers. You can blend fill layers with other layers by using the opacity and blend mode options on the Layers panel.

Finally, you can restrict the fill layer to just a portion of your image by either making a selection first or painting on the mask later. Follow these steps to create a fill layer:

1Open an image.

Use an image that will look good with a frame or border of some kind. Remember that if you don’t have a selection, the fill layer covers your whole image.

2Click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon on the Layers panel. From the drop-down menu, choose a fill of a solid color, gradient, or pattern.

The dialog box specific to your type of fill appears.

3Specify your options, depending on the fill type you chose.

Solid Color. Choose your desired color from the Color Picker.

Gradient. Click the down-pointing arrow to choose a preset gradient from the drop-down panel, or click the gradient preview to display the Gradient Editor and create your own gradient.

Pattern. Select a pattern from the drop-down panel. Enter a value to scale your pattern, if you want. Click Snap to Origin to make the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document. Select the Link with Layer option to specify that the pattern moves with the fill layer if you move that layer.


4Click OK.

The fill layer appears on the Layers panel. Notice the layer mask that was created on the fill layer. We filled our entire layer mask with black, with just the exception of the outside edge to create a frame around our image.