Losing my mind (Re: Opacity)


So either I don’t understand the point of opacity or Painter is trying to make me insane. :slight_smile: If I:

  • Pick a color, any color
  • Set my brush to 25% opacity
  • lay down a stroke on the canvas that is full pressure on my tablet

I would expect to have to make 4 strokes on top of each other at full pressure in order to get the color I picked. Instead, the first stroke lays down 100% of the color. So I ask, what is the point of the opacity setting if it doesn’t appear to actually lower the opacity of the stroke?


Hi planetaaron,

Try setting Opacity Expression to None (in the Brush Controls’ General palette).



Hi Jinny,

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately that didn’t help :frowning: It just made the stroke not fade out on either end. This brush is a custom variant I made that is:

Dab type: Circular
Stroke Type: Single
Method: Cover
Subcategory: Flat Cover

Opacity 25%
Expression: Pressure

Resaturation: 50%
Bleed 20%

That’s about it. I should mention that I’m using Painter X.1.052 which should be the latest (only?) patch they released.


Yep, there was only one patch released for Painter X.

Sorry, I don’t have any solutions other than to try this rather cumbersome (at least setting it up) workaround:

Create a color set from colors at various values to match the values you’d get painting with a range of Opacities. Then paint with these colors at 100% opacity with Opacity Expression, Resaturation Expression, and Bleed Expression set to None.

This subject has come up so often and usually from Photoshop users who are used to a different brush technology. You may not be able to solve this one easily or the way you’d like.

Still, you can try what I described above and add to that, the option to paint on a Layer and adjust the Layer Opacity as needed.

Again, sorry I can’t offer a better answer.

Good luck!



this image may explain everything

Painter is not really good with opacity because the opacity is “linked” to the spacing for all image based brushes. It is unable to produce hard edged low opacity brush stroke excepted with the rendered dab type like the scratchboard tool. If you reduce the opacity, your stroke become too smooth.
In my opinion, this is a complete lack especially when you ever tested some other programs which works like painter. These other programs (in this case ArtRage and PaintTool SAI) introduced something like the dilution which preserves hard edged stroke with low opacity.


Mickael - Awesome example! That demonstrates very clearly why Painter users have been asking for a Photoshop-like brush all these years.


Thanks all for the info. The funny thing is that I’ve barely used photoshop for trying to paint really, well, ever. It just makes sense to me logically that opacity should work the way I described in my first post.

Anyway, thanks again everybody.


Its a shame Painter doesn’t have the same opacity functions as Photoshop, opacity in Painter feels to me like flow in photoshop, more or less.

It’d be great to be able to paint in both styles in the same application.


I suppose this also might explain why some people don’t have a problem with Painter’s opacity… I paint in Photoshop with an irregular brush tip with opacity at 100% (though modified by tablet pressure) and Flow set at around 10-25%.


Where did you see I wrote “any people will have problem with Painter’s opacity”? There is a limitation with opacity, nothing else.

First, the Photoshop’s flow= Painter’s opacity. There is no equivalent of the Photoshop’s opacity in Painter (I am still talking about image based brush, Photoshop use only this kind of brush)
So, there is no way to use your settings in Painter (opacity set to pressure) you can only set the flow to pressure and if you do that, more you will reduce the flow and smoother will be the edge of your brush stroke.

In OpenCanvas, the pencil brush is really closed of the Photoshop brushes, it can limit opacity per brush stroke to the percentage you want and opacity can be controlled by the stylus pressure.
In PaintTool SAI, as there is no spacing, the opacity you set is the opacity you get. And there is also two kind of brush which are able to make things really precise:
-the marker which is able to make a brush stroke limited to the opacity you set. This one is different of anything else I have seen since if you set 30% opacity (named density in SAI), even if you make multiple brush strokes, you will obtain only 30% opacity on your layer so if you paint with 30% opacity brush over 50% opacity area, you will only modify the color.
-the standard brush which has a dilution setting. If you set the density to 100% (to preserve the hard edge) and you increase the dilution, your brush will react as if you thined down the paint. So you obtain truly transparent brush stroke you can combine to increase opacity on the layer (with the dilution set to 85%, you need a lot brush strokes to reach 100% opacity on your layer)
If you combine that with blending and persistence settings, you can push transparent area of a layer to thin down the paint. And if you add the fringe effect on your layer you have pretty good watercolor engine.


I think you misunderstand my point. I replied to your post because you posted an excellent explanation of the differences between the brush engines. I didn’t mean to imply either that you had a problem, or that you said people had a problem. I meant that if one uses flow at a low setting and opacity at 100% in PS, then one will have less of an issue with Painter’s brush engine. The main problem I see is people constantly wanting to have something that works exactly like Photoshop’s default hard round brush in every way… in Painter.

I have no problem painting semi-opaquely or transparently in Painter… or in Photoshop with opacity set to 100%… with or without hard edges… it’s just a case of controlling pressure properly with your pen and tablet.


I think also :smiley:
Shame on me, your message meant exactly what you wrote. I suspected irony there, I was wrong, sorry.

People don’t want a Photoshop’s feature, people want something that is possible with natural media and as they know photoshop, they use it as example to show a working system. The last time I used natural media with acrylic+brushes and airbrush, I was able to thin down the paint to work with transparency…I can’t do that in Painter in a simple way, so I need to cheat.
Now, because I know some people are sensitive when we are talking about Photoshop, I mentionned 3 other programs, ArtRage, openCanvas and PaintTool SAI…that are painting programs and not image editing programs. All these programs can do in their way what we are requesting in Painter.
The reason why a decent system is not inside Painter is in my opinion because it was badly designed (or it wasn’t possible in a old time) before Corel buys it. So I am not with all the people complaining about Corel, I mean the “it was better before” thing. The guys from Corel are not perfect, ok, but most of the historical issues in Painter were there when it was metacreation or maybe before…(damn old opacity bug and the non transparent system). Now it seems to be impossible to fix that or maybe it needs a big investment.
If you know well Painter, you probably know that everything has to do with transparency use the crappy gel layer which is a nightmare when you need to merge with a non opaque standard layer.

See this video

it is not too long (4’21) and it shows precisely what I mean by true opacity control and you will see the poor control you think having with any settings possible in Painter is just…well, I will leave to you the choice of the adjective.
-0’00, PaintTool SAI
-1’20, Painter
-2’04, PaintTool SAI
-4’01, Painter
Compare by yourself

Now another video to show you why I am saying Painter is not really good with transparency, it concerns now the blending engine. The video explain everything (2’12)

EDIT added this video about opacity bug on layer in any Painter version since at least version 6 to current version 11.0.017

Another example of limitation using transparency and layers…


Thanks… that was a good explantion of the issue. I use Photoshop way more than Painter… but when I do use Painter I try and switch my way of thinking towards more traditional techniques. I tend to try working on one layer preferably, or if I do create a new layer to try things out I flatten it as soon as possible. Working on one layer means you can use things like the tinting brushes that are reasonably good at laying down washes of colour. Working on two layers with oil type brushes can represent working with wet paint on top of already dried paint.

In an ideal world Corel would fix this issue - But in that ideal world perhaps Adobe would add Painter like blending to their brush engine? It’s been a while since they’ve made any significant changes to the way one can paint in Photoshop… CS5 maybe?


In CS5 there will probably be a color wheel, blending maybe in CS6 then Adobe closes doors since there’s nothing to add anymore.


In CS5 there will probably be a color wheel, blending maybe in CS6 then Adobe closes doors since there’s nothing to add anymore.

Sorry to go off topic, but where is the logic behind that?


That’s how Adobe works in Photoshop, one worthwhile feature at a time.


Yes, I tried before to use Painter in a more traditional way, but it was a waste of time to not use what computer can do when I need to make big adjustment on my image or just adding details behind characters hair. In the past using natural media, I used a lot stencil with airbrush (natural media) and layers now are much more powerful. Finally I don’t care anymore about using Painter traditionnally.
What I hate now, it is when software try to emulate natural media even when it is just stupid and unproductive. I hate the way ArtRage developers integrated rulers trying to emulate a tool you normally use with two hands but with the limitation now of using only one hand with your stylus. So it makes the use of ruler much more complicated than using a natural media method. Other developers have made a much more efficient use of what computer can do using a smart way to help user in that task (videos of Manga Studio rulers) and finally it makes the use of ruler easier and faster than using natural media (those lovely perspective rulers). Even the sketchbook pro developers integrated in their last version a poor system…(workflow comparison)…

 So now I am one of these irritating guys who is saying, please, stop to emulate things [b]at any price[/b]!! I don't want to be able to sharpen my digital pencil! (forgive the caricature).

As Adobe is not doing a digital painting program, I can forgive them to not add more features in this area. But Adobe is trying to make Photoshop more and more a non-destrutive program with complete non-linear system and it is a really difficult task I thing even if digital painting users don’t care about that.

 About Painter, it is mainly a digital painting program and if they want to force any of their users to use only workflow with just a little use of layers (like the new transform tool that can manipulate...only one layer), they will lose any of us who are just tired to not use a much more efficient system. I know lot of people are considering than a better layer system has nothing to do inside digital painting program (in fact a natural media emulation program which is not Painter), I have read some of us would like a more realistic brush engine. The question now, are the pure natural media customers will be enough to make Painter financially viable?

In my opinion, instead of adding more emulation that does not necessary emulate really well all these natural media things, they may integrate more and more tools helping user to make things in a easier way like all these amazing Manga Studio rulers. This kind of feature we will surely never see in Photoshop may be a top feature that will force Photoshop users to use also Painter… I can also add the instant mirror thing inside PaintTool SAI, a thumb view system to not be forced to zoom out to see how detailing is changing our image and so on…lot of useful stuff could be added that can make our life easier because finally, when I am in front of two programs, I prefer the stress less program instead of the “one thousand ways program to do the same things”…
Now we are not in an ideal world and I will be happy to see a true transparent blending system in Painter 12 and a perfect opacity system in Painter 13… not sure I will wait for these versions anyway, Painter is not anymore our only choice.

I am hoping I am not too annoying about my opinion.


Hey Hecartha, While I appreciate your strong opinions about ALL of todays digital programs, I am starting to realise you are really picky, it isn’t an ideal world, and like everything there are pros and cons, you must come to accept this, it is becoming more and more evident that an ideal and streamlined workflow doesn’t consist of just one software package anymore, because Painter can only do so much, and the same applies to every other software package.

I like Art Rages rulers, they are light weight (no OpenGL shit) intuitive, and really easy to use, I prefer them over sketchbook pro’s rulers, but have not tried Manga Studio’s.

It is a software companies soul purpose to develop software that improves a users workflow, and in general just makes things easier, and if the company fails to deliver this, users simply more on. Painter, with the release of 11, is notorious for their shit customer support, and lack of community relations in terms of taking on board user feedback and suggestions, so most of the things we want, or need, will not make it into Painter because of this fact.

I agree about wanting a streamlined workflow and having less ways to do things is probably an easier way to go about designing a application, however each to their own, because I’m sure some people enjoy have options when creating.

I think at the end of the day, once you realise what your package of choice can, and cannot do you make it work for yourself, sure theres a compromise there for certain features (photoshops opacity system, manga studios rulers) but at the end of the day, each application has their work arounds and like you said, using a computer is to be unrestricted, digital painting software is no different, when theres a will, theres a way.

Your not annoying anyone with your opinion mate :slight_smile:


Mickael’s sentiments are exactly the same as mine. I have been using Painter for years, but I’ve never pulled any punches when it comes to discussing its shortcomings because I think being a blind cheerleader is counter-productive to the growth of a product. In order to help shape a product, we must be totally honest about how we feel.

I absolutely agree that emulating traditional medium to the point of throwing all the benefits of digital workflow out the window is a bad idea. The less well-known painting softwares out there are proving that you can have your cake and eat it too, but to be fair, their brush engines aren’t as elaborate or wide-ranging as Painter’s, so it’s easier for them to implement certain features. Smaller developing teams are always more agile, and often they are the ones that come up with innovative features, while the larger developers will eventually adopt them into their products.

While I agree that often we have to accept how thing are and use combination of different softwares to achieve our goals, it is a necessary evil, and whenever a product achieve the goal of doing it all (and doing them well instead of badly implemented), I immediately ditched all the others because using just one software makes life that much easier.


The point about going too far in emulating natural media is a valid one, to an extent. Look at Moxi - an incredible brush engine but I doubt anybody could paint anything worthwhile using the features demo’d in the video. However, the oil brush in ArtRage demonstrates that there is a happy medium (pun indended) between digital and slavish traditional emulation. Yes, certain functions such as smoothing are more difficult to achieve but the effect - and the feel of “actually” painting - more than makes up for it. Not to mention that the brush engine is significantly ahead of the Painter one, not in scope but in function.

I’m afraid I’ve never fathomed why workflow needs to consist of a single application. I don’t even see it as being a benefit. Specialisation is always a better solution IMO. If every function anyone can ever want is shoe-horned into one product you end up with a bloated, slow, buggy, prohibitively complex, massively expensive piece of software that’s essentially a jack of all trades and a master of none. Which is what Painter is rapidly becoming. I don’t want to end up paying £1000 for a package that suits my needs less well than my £20 software.

Of course, one option would be to provide a s/w package that acts more like corporate packages. You want a function, you buy the module and bolt it on. I don’t know why this isn’t done.

Hellfire, people are evening asking for animation in ArtRage now and it’s not even on v3! IF YOU WANT ANIMATION BUY A F***ING ANIMATION PACKAGE! What next, a link to Twitter and a LOLcat generator? Sorry, but jeez.