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Don't panic if what you're looking at on the screen doesn't quite exactly match what you have in your comp. This is what the Blend Mode project will look when we are finished. I'm showing you this because I wanted you to see exactly how much you could blend together with the use of blend modes. So let's get started by checking out our project. Press F5 to open the Project pane and you'll see we have an imported Photoshop document with three layers. A group made up of Replicator and then our title, which has text and a color bar underneath of it.
Now I'm just going to turn off these upper layers here until we get down to the last two layers, Sky and this Canyon layer underneath. To be quite honest, I would say a good 98% of designers out there, don't know exactly how each and every blend mode functions, they just operate on the what looks good is good theory. Just so we don't go crazy for the next few hours, I'll give you what I think is the best guide to using blend modes, the designer's guide for blend modes. Now keep in mind these will just be guidelines, not hard and fast rules.
There will always be some exceptions. So now with the Sky layer selected, open the HUD. Typically, I adjust my blend modes in the HUD, because I find it's the fastest. You can also adjust your blend modes in the Properties tab of your Inspector under Blend Mode, or you can Ctrl-click directly on the layer in your Layers tab and choose Blend Modes from there. But to get to the Designers guide, let's go ahead and click on the Blend Mode pop-up menu in the HUD, and you'll notice all the blend modes are divided up into groups.
So for me, I just keep in mind exactly what each group as a whole is designed to do and then click through the options in that group to see exactly which one looks best. So this top group up here darkens things. The next group below it tends to lighten things. The third group works based on the contrast of each of the layers. And the next group here looks at the comparative aspects of each layer, and then compares them and mixes them. These are kind of drastic, so I have to say I rarely use them, and then this last group in the half here works on the compositing functions based on the Luminance information or Alpha Channel information.
Now the reason I said, in the half, the last half works on information based on the Premultiplied Alpha Channel. So now that we have that basic designers got down, let's go ahead and blend these layers together. Making sure the Sky Layer is selected, let's turn of its visibility and look at the layer underneath. What we are going to do is make these rocks a little bit darker by applying a blend mode to this guy. So let's start with the first set of options and just kind of click through, and you notice some of them even though they are changed, don't really have an effect at all or just a tiny amount.
For example, Darken is just affecting this one little upper section of the clouds. You can click through all of them, but I know I want to choose Linear Burn, so let's see what that looks like. Now that may be a little bit dark for what we are trying to do, but let's go ahead and leave it for now. The next layer is this really busy bright glass layer. Let's use this to lighten up the image we just created below. Sometimes when these individual blend modes don't work, I'll just jump right down to the next one so that function off of the contrast.
Typically, Soft Light does a great job of blending everything together. So let's choose Soft Light, and I want you to notice groups have blend modes, but we're not going to jump into that just quite yet, we'll get to that when we get up towards the Title group. Let's select this next group that has a Replicator. See if we can blend it in a little bit. I'll use one of the Alpha Channel options and you'll notice how it cuts out the background. Sometimes no matter which blend mode you choose, it just make sense to leave it at Normal and just drop down the Opacity.
So let's drop that down to around 50%. Now with our Title group selected, let's turn the visibility on and see if we can make some adjustments. Let's make this mix in by trying one of the Contrast options Hard Light. It's looking pretty good, but I think it's really dark over on the right-hand side. So let's dark its Opacity down. Now you notice the text is blended in too much, so let's go ahead and take the Opacity back up, turn off the blend mode, change it to Pass Through and now we can just make that adjustment directly to the GreenLine.
Now the text is nice and bright. Notice if we go back up to the group here and make a change, now it affects everything below. So just kind of keep that in mind as you are working with groups. So this is looking pretty good. Let me just check one last thing with the Glass. I think it still a little bit dark. Let's see if we just can blend it in a little bit more smoothly. I think I like Overlay a little bit better. Now remember I've set the Sky might make things a little too dark. Let's drag the Opacity down on this Sky layer just to brighten up the overall composition.
Let's drag it down to around 20%, and then we are all set. We've gone through all of our blend modes, and you've completed the designer's guide to blend modes. When you start working with blend modes, it's best to think of them in their groups and then click through to see which one works best for you in your goals. If you'd like to learn more about blend modes, go check out the Photoshop CS4 Blend Mode Magic title in the lynda.com Training Library.
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