Brush Opacity and Flow

Brush Opacity and Flow

Photoshop CS6 Tutorial


How to Control Brush Opacity and Flow in Photoshop



Brush Opacity is often used to control how thick the paint is added to the document. By setting the Opacity to say 50%, the paint will be applied no thicker than 50% as long as you don't release the mouse or lift your stylus.

Flow works in conjunction with the Opacity setting. By setting the Flow value at a percentage below the Opacity setting, you can control how fast the paint flows from the brush.


Step One

Open a new 1,024 pixel x 1,024 pixel document with a white background in Photoshop (File > New).

Step Two

Click the Create a New Layer icon to add a new blank layer. You can experiment with the new brushes on this layer.

Step Three

Select the Brush tool and open the Brush palette by clicking the Brush palette icon or choosing Window > Brushes.

Step Four

Click the Brush Presets tab and select a soft edge round brush, then click the Brush tab to return to the brush settings.

Step Five

In the Brush tool options, set the Opacity to 60% and Flow to 100%. Draw a line in the document. The line's opacity is fixed at 60% for the entire line.

Step Six

Change the Flow setting to 20%. Try looping back over the line multiple times and notice how the paint builds up with each additional pass.

Step Seven

The Opacity setting is missing from the Mixer Brush. For the Mixer Brush, use the Flow slider to decrease the Flow and paint Opacity.

Opacity and Flow With Airbrush

For more information on used the Opacity and Flow setting with the Airbrush, see topic, Airbrushes.

Brushes Work With Many Tools

In addition to the Brush tool, the brushes also work with the Art History Brush, Blur, Burn, Clone Stamp, Dodge, Eraser, History Brush, Mixer Brush, Pattern Stamp tool, Pencil, Sharpen, Smudge and Sponge.

A limited round brush version is available with the Healing Brush tool and Spot Healing tool. career skills