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Chapter 6: Photoshop: Selective Adjustme... > Working with Opacity and Flow

Working with Opacity and Flow

In the “Brushes” section, we learned what the Opacity and Flow settings control. Now let’s apply that to working with layer masks. Adjusting Opacity and Flow gives you the flexibility to paint with shades of gray instead of being limited to the extremes of black and white. When you paint with gray, you’re blocking part of the full effect of the adjustment layer. When you use a reduced Flow or Opacity, the layer mask will be a mix of white, black, and gray.

When I began experimenting with these settings, I would lower the Opacity of the brush so that I could gradually build up how much I wanted to block or show the effect. This technique worked, but I felt I didn’t have as much control as I did when building the effect. When I began to adjust the Flow instead, it quickly became my preferred setting. By choosing a low Flow setting, I can gradually build up (or down) an effect in a way that feels very natural. My Flow is often less than 10%, usually 5%, 3%, or sometimes even 1%. The setting you should choose depends on how slowly you want to adjust the effect. I prefer Flow instead of Opacity because I can add more paint by continuing to brush back and forth, instead of having to release my mouse button to lay down more paint. As mentioned in the “Brushes” section, I almost always use a soft-edged brush, usually set to 0% Hardness.


  

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