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How to Fill a Layer in Photoshop

Published: 08/06/2021

There are several ways to beautify images while editing. One of them is to fill layers with various colors, gradients, or patterns. If you know the basics of how to fill layers in Photoshop, this will allow you to create fascinating visuals that will instantly enhance the appeal of your real estate images and catch viewers’ attention.

How to Fill a Layer in Photoshop Using Multiple Features and Tools

Photoshop interface is all about equipping users with ease and abundant functionalities to improve their image editing skills. When it comes to filling layers, not only do you have features and tools to do so effortlessly but there are ample filling options as well, which help unleash your creativity.

You can add interesting effects to your real estate images by filling layers with solid colors, beautiful patterns, and gradients. You can adjust the level of transparency of these fill options according to your editing needs. If that wasn’t enough, you could even fill the layers and selections using the Content Aware feature.

Let’s walk through the various methods and options to fill layers in Adobe Photoshop CC. 

Fill a Layer Via the Edit Menu

The first method to fill layers is to use the Fill command, which is present under the Edit menu. You need to select the layer that needs to be filled from the Layers panel. After that, go to the Edit menu and click on Fill. 

Using the Edit Menu to fill an image layer in Photoshop

This will open the Fill dialog, in which you will get a number of options. The first three options in the Contents drop-down menu are for a solid color fill.

Fill dialog box in Photoshop

Solid Colors

  • Foreground Color: The foreground color is the color already selected in your toolbox. If you choose to fill your layer with it, choose the desired foreground color beforehand in the toolbox using the color picker. You can also use the Eyedropper tool to copy color from another source, like another image or application. 
  • Background Color: The Background color is also selected from the toolbox beforehand. If you want to use the eyedropper tool to copy a background color, press and hold ALT (Windows) or OPTION (Mac) while selecting the color. 
  • Colors: In the Fill dialog, you can choose any other color by clicking on the Color option in the drop down. It will launch the Color Picker box, where you can pick any color that you want to fill. 

Content Aware Fill 

The next option after the solid colors in the Contents drop down of the Fill Dialog is Content Aware. It is one of the highly intuitive automated features in Photoshop that takes image manipulation to a whole new level. 

Filling layers with the Content Aware option lets Photoshop analyze the surrounding pixels and replicate them. The feature can be used to remove and replace objects or to extend backgrounds. The Content Aware works in an interactive way as you first give a clue to Photoshop about the surroundings, and then it works to fill the layer with matching content.

Color Adaptation: When you select a layer and choose the Content Aware option from the Fill Dialog, you will see that the Color adaptation option appears, which is checked by default. This lets Photoshop blend the colors with the surrounding.


Choose the pattern fill to fill the layers with unique custom patterns from Photoshop. You can click on the custom pattern drop down and select the desired patterns. If you click on the gear icon, a drop down will appear, showing additional patterns which you can append to the custom patterns.

You can also select a pattern and then click on the Script option and click ok. It will launch another dialog where you can customize the pattern script as you wish. 

Tip For Real Estate Photography: The patterns fill is an amazing design feature to use on residential interior images where you can select plain walls and furniture and fill them with colorful patterns to change the whole look virtually. The other content options you can use to fill your layers are Black, 50% Grey, and White. 

Fill a Layer Via Tools

Besides the Fill dialog, the paint bucket tool and the Gradients tool can also be used alternatively to fill the layers. The paint bucket will fill the layer contents with solid colors, while the gradients are a patterned blending of two or more colors which add an aesthetic appeal to the visuals.

Paint Bucket Tool

In the toolbar on the left side of the Photoshop interface, the paint bucket tool is present. You can also select it via the keyboard shortcut G. When you choose the tool, the options bar will appear on the top, where you can set the color or pattern, blend mode, opacity, and tolerance values.

Using the Paint Bucket Tool to fill a layer in Photoshop

Choose the foreground or background color in the toolbox before choosing the Paint bucket tool.


The Gradients tool can be activated by selecting it from the Paint Bucket Tool flyout. Once you choose the Gradient tool after selecting your layer, you can adjust its settings from the option bar on top.

In the first option, choose the gradient that you want to use. Photoshop has a few default gradients, and more can be appended to the list if you click on the gear icon and select them from the drop down. Or, you can install gradients and add them to the list. 

After choosing the Gradient, set the type, blending mode, and opacity to get the desired effect on your layer.  

Keyboard Shortcuts to Fill Layer

Here are the layer fill keyboard shortcuts to accelerate your Photoshop workflow

  1. To launch the Fill dialog, press Shift + F5.
  2. If you intend to fill the layer with the foreground color, press ALT + Backspace (on Windows) or Option + Delete (on Mac).
  3. If you intend to fill the layer using Background color, press CTRL + Backspace (on Windows) or Command + Delete (on Mac).
  4. Holding down the Shift key along with keyboard shortcuts to fill layers will only fill the areas containing pixels.
  5. If you need to fill the layer from an active history state, press CTRL + ALT + Backspace (Windows) or Command + Delete (Mac).
  6. Use the key combination of Shift + and numeric key to change the opacity while filling a selected layer.

Create New Fill Layers 

In the Layers panel, you will see a half-filled circle icon, which is used to create Adjustment or Fill layers. If you click on it, you will get the options in the drop-down menu, which include solid color, gradient, or pattern layer. 

Creating new fill layers in Photoshop

To create a Fill Layer, select the desired type of layer after clicking on the Create New Fill or Adjustment layer icon, set the layer options from the dialog box that appears, and click OK.

The fill layers do not have any impact on the layers underneath them. 

The benefit of using Fill Layers is that you can choose the opacity and blending modes for them after adding them. Also, you can easily rename, duplicate, hide, or rearrange them just like you do with any other layer in the Layers panel. 

Fill Selection or Paths in Layers

Filling selections or paths in layers is very simple. 

  1. Choose the layer to which you want to apply the fill or adjustment layer from the Layer panel.
  2. Make a selection using any of the selection tools. Or create a path using the Pen tool.
  3. The selection you make will restrict the Fill Layer with the layer mask. For a Path, you will limit the fill with a vector mask.


We hope that our in-depth guide will help you with the process of filling layers in Photoshop. Using the multiple layer fill options, you can enhance the appeal of your photos and increase the viewers’ interest in otherwise ordinary-looking pictures. Practice your skills to fill layers in various ways and master the art of beautifying your images effortlessly.