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Why does a brush with 50% opacity and 100% flow take 8 individual strokes to reach 100% opacity?


Question

I have a simple round brush with 100% hardness, 50% opacity and 100% flow. All other brush settings are disabled (brush dynamics, transfer, etc). Since it has 50% opacity, I would expect 2 brush strokes to equal 100% (50 + 50) opacity. However, it takes me about 8 brush strokes to reach the same level of opacity that a single brush stroke on a 100% opacity brush makes. What kind of rules does Photoshop use when adding the opacity of overlapping brush strokes? I'm using Photoshop CC.

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2018/08/20
1
30
8/20/2018 1:03:00 PM

Accepted Answer

Basically it blocks 50% of what is left behind, as opposed to being a pure 50% opacity in a additive way. Therefore working in an inverse exponential way towards 99.999...% opacity.

So laid on top of each other:

  • 1st stroke: 50%
  • 2nd stroke: 75% (50% + 50% of 50%)
  • 3rd stroke: 87.5% (75% + 50% of 25%)
  • 4th stroke: 93.75% (87.5 + 50% of 12.5%)
  • 5th stroke: 96.875% (93.75% + 50% of 6.25%)
  • 6th stroke: 98.4375% (96.875% + 50% of 3.125%)
  • 7th stroke: 99.21875% (98.4375% + 50% of 1.5625%)
  • 8th stroke: 99.609375% (99.21875% + 50% of 0.78125%)

etc...

2015/10/12
48
10/12/2015 8:10:00 AM

Each stroke is moving 50% from the current color towards the brush color. The formula would be 100% * (1 - (brush opacity ^ number of strokes)). So going from white to black, you will have:

  1. 50% gray
  2. 75% gray
  3. 87,5% gray
  4. 93,75% gray
  5. 96,875% gray
  6. 98,4375% gray

...etc, slowly moving towards black.

I.e, you'll never actually truly reach full opacity, but at some point it will round off to 100% anyway.

2015/10/12