Difference between Opacity and Flow

The fundamental distinction between 'opacity' and 'flow' would be that 'opacity' determines the limit of darkness in addition to opaqueness, whereas 'flow' controls how rapidly the color is applied. Imagine flow to be a dial that controls how much water flows from the faucet. If you use 100%, you obtain all of the colors in one shot, but when you select a lower Flow, you receive lighter streaks that aggregate until the opacity limit.

In Photoshop, Opacity is accessible in both layer settings and the navigation menu, while the flow is only accessible in the menu bar beside Opacity. The Opacity of any corresponding tool can be adjusted, whereas the flow feature can only be used on brush tools. Opacity is described as a typically transparent structure due to a body's nature or state that renders it impenetrable to light rays

In contrast, flow is described as going in a stream to progress with a constant change of position among the individual particles. The brush menu shows Opacity and flows as decimal percentages. The percentage of the brush's Opacity and flow can be adjusted. It has two alternatives: grow or decrease. When we select the brush tool, a slider displays that can be used to control the Opacity and flow of the brush as required.

Opacity controls transparency, while flow regulates the flow and stroke of a brush-style tool. Opacity can be applied to multiple layers, but it only impacts the topmost layer. At the same time, flow could be given to any layer as well as the intensity will gradually decrease as additional levels stack up the layer. "Flow" and "opacity" are similar words used in Photoshop or other laptop editing applications for sketching and painting tools currently available for digital creation and e-painting.

Read this article to find out more about Opacity and Flow and how they are different from each other.

What is Opacity?

Opacity is a feature in film imaging and software, specifically Photoshop, that allows transparency areas in an image or image layer by adjusting the light passage on a layer. The Opacity of a substance is the extent to which it restricts light. When more of the basic picture is visible, the Opacity of levels, filters, and effects may be adjusted

Regarding Photoshop editing, the brush tool benefits the most from varying the intensity of the 'opacity' function. This happens because you use the paintbrush for hiding, which is intended for the most complex changes in Photoshop.

The broad definition of Opacity is a region in a typically transparent construction inaccessible to incoming light because of the nature or condition of a body. It is a feature used in creativity and art to manipulate the lightness and darkness of the color or the whole layer.

When you change the Opacity of a level or a function, you make the surface or instrument effect less or more visible. An opacity of 0% signifies that the level of utility effect is fully transparent, 100% indicates no transparency, and 50% means that the surface or tool impact is 50% clear.

What is Flow?

The common definition of the phrase 'flow' in English is to move in a stream, to advance with a constant change of position among the component elements. When employing editing software like Adobe Photoshop, the phrase's definition produces a comparable experience. Flow in Photoshop enables you to slowly increase the intensity of your darkest color by overlaying it multiple times without moving the mouse.

The trace will gradually get darker, comparable to shading back and forth between pencils in the same location. Pushing firmly enough to make the pencil mark completely black is comparable to Photoshop's 100% Flow option.

The more you go beyond a specific point, such as a low Flow setting, the more the ink accumulates. Once more, when masked in Photoshop, this is extremely handy

Another point to remember is that when using a low-flow option, you should employ a soft brush. The ink will come out of a pointed end if you employ a strong brush. Using a soft bristle brush, on the other hand, the ink will mix as it exits the paint.

Differences between Opacity and Flow

The following table highlights the major differences between Opacity and Flow −





An opaque region in a normally transparent change induced by a body's nature or circumstance renders it resistant to light rays

The usual definition of the phrase 'flow' in English is to go in a stream, to progress with a constant


Transparency is the opposite of Opacity. However, the opacity feature in many editing software packages can be used to adjust the transparency level

The flow option does have an indirect impact on transparency because it can be changed when using the brush tool.


The opacity tool is employed to control layer transparency and regulate an image's light intensity.

When the paint or stroke fills the layer, the flow function is used to adjust the intensity of the brush bristles.


Select the layer from the Options menu. In the Layers option, enter a value ranging from 0 and 100 for Opacity, or press the button to the side of the Opacity box to move the Opacity slider, which appears instantly.

In Photoshop, the flow parameter is located next to the Opacity choice and controls the speed at which paint is applied.

Factor of Dispersion

Opacity does not affect the dispersion factor.

Flow setting can be used to modify and increase the dispersion factor


To summarize, both Flow and Opacity could be ideal Brush Tool choices, especially the flow tool. The difficulty is knowing how and when to use which choice. In Adobe, utilizing Opacity in Layers is extremely straightforward; simply drag the slider to create a somewhat opaque level. Whenever used in your tools, it is more hard and time- consuming to learn

The flow feature, in contrast, is restricted to the brush tool and strokes, which is an extremely aesthetically pleasing element to use, particularly for font insertion and drawing. Opacity and Flow could be an effective choice for Photoshop, and it is widely used in editing

Updated on: 19-Jan-2023


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