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Now suppose you just finished this Old Technology title animation and the client looked at it and said "Ah, make it newer and while you are at it I want it to blend more." Now being a good little worker bee, I would say, "Sure, I can do that," and then turn to my old trusty friend, the Blend Mode. Basically Blend modes just change the way layers interact with each other when they are overlapping. To make this project newer let's add some footage. It'll not only reinforce the newer theme but it will also help me more clearly illustrate Blend modes.
So navigate in your File Browser to your Footage folder and click on Technology. This is the background I want to indeed add to this, so click on it and drag it and drop it right out into the center of your canvas. Again if your snapping isn't happening, hit N and let go. Now this isn't the same resolution that I am working in, but that's going to be okay because again this is just a texture to make it look newer. Go ahead and click in any one of the lower corners and hold down Shift and Option to scale this up to cover the entire background, and I'd like to actually add this into its own group in the bottom of the Layers tab here.
So just drag it and remember drag it to the left and that will create a new group. There we go. Go ahead and rename your group Background and I'll just call it Footage as well, Background_Footage. And go ahead and close that. Let's go ahead and move the playhead to a place where we have some boxes. And 1:08, that's where you should be positioning your playhead. Go ahead and hit F7 and bring up your HUD and let's go ahead and select the topmost Boxes layer.
Now this way I can change the Blend Mode of this and it will adjust how these boxes are interacting with everything below it. I could sit here for the next few hours and try and explain each and every one of these Blend modes, but let's face it. Most clients want their changes fast and I really don't want to get too technical. So I'm going to share a little known fact with you. Most designers have no idea what each and every Blend Mode does. They operate on the 'what looks good is good' theory.
Now that would be a little too convenient for me to just stop there, so I am going to offer a little guidance for Blend modes. They are organized by groups. Now these aren't hard and fast rules, they are just meant for guidance. So we have a basic place to start. This first group darkens things, the next group lightens things. The next group works on the contrast of the layers. This next group works on the comparative aspects of each layer, compares them and mixes them.
This last group and a half works on compositing functions based on luminance information or alpha information. Now the reason I said, "and a half," this last group works with information based on a pre-multiplied alpha channel. So there are the basics of the groups. Let's go ahead and click through and adjust each one of these groups to blend these boxes into the background. So select this first one here and let's go ahead and click -- and what I'd like to do is kind of contrast this a little bit, so I'll try Soft Light. Not quite. Hard Light, yeah, that's kind of cool. Let's go to the next one here.
One thing to note with the Blend modes, open it up. There are Blend modes for each individual layer and there are Blend modes for groups. I am adjusting the groups just so this actually blends a little bit faster. You can feel free to adjust the Blend modes of each individual object if you like, but I will go ahead and adjust for the groups, so go ahead and click this group and adjust accordingly. Let me see, I'd like to make this little brighter. And not color dodging... you notice nothing is happening here because it's kind of important to pay attention where your playhead is.
Let me drag that over here and let's adjust. Hmm. I kind of like the Color Dodge, it makes it sort of nice and dark. Select the next group. again making sure where the playhead is. Okay, and let's adjust this. Difference, it's really kind of cool, Exclusion -- I like Difference. And this last group, let's adjust it. That tends to get a little lost.
Let's make it a little brighter, let's choose Add. Okay, there we go. The client did say, they wanted to look newer, so why don't we change the title? Because after all this isn't Old Technology anymore, it's New Technology. And go ahead and hit Escape to set your type there. I set the type by double-clicking it and just change the word Old to New. So go ahead and click off your type to set it and hit your spacebar to checkout what we've done.
And there you have it. A designer's guide to Blend modes. Remember, what looks right for your project is the right Blend mode for you, and if you want to much more in-depth look at Blend modes, you should checkout Deke McClelland's Photoshop One-on-One Beyond the Basics course. He has a pretty hefty section on Blend modes that should be more than enough to satisfy anyone's craving for blending.
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