The debate goes on and on. Should you use Opacity or Flow when you want to build up brushstrokes in Photoshop? If you’re looking for a very flat, even result, use Opacity because it will apply color at the same amount, and won’t surpass the current Opacity value no matter how many passes you make over the same area. You have to release the mouse button or raise your pen from your tablet and then apply a second stroke to build up the color, etc. 

Flow on the other hand, will keep applying color as long as your finger is on the button, so you can make multiple passes over the same area to build up the color. Flow is the best for shading, because it produces a smoother result. So basically, if you want shading, use Flow, if you want a flat color, use Opacity. 

This tip originally published in Colin Smith’s Photoshop Tips column, in the July, 2022 issue of Photoshop User magazine. 

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