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Advanced Blending is the second installment in Deke McClelland's series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course explores blending options and shows how to use them to create sophisticated effects and seamless compositions, often without masking. Beginning with the basics of blending layered images, the course sheds light on the formulas behind the Photoshop blend modes and shows how to comp scanned line art, create double-exposure effects, correct skin tones, and work with the luminance sliders.
In this exercise, I'll introduce you to the 27 common blend modes that are found inside Photoshop. These are the modes that you see when applying layer effects, when working with the Brush Tool, the Gradient Tool, and so forth, when applying the Fill command, the Stroke command, and most commonly, when working inside the Layers panel, which is why I'll be framing my discussion for now in terms of working with layers. And as you may know, every single one of the blend modes produces a unique effect, a unique interaction between different layers, for example. But it's rarely evident what those interactions are going to be.
For example, what does the Overlay mode do, what does Soft Light even mean, and so forth? Well, we'll be discussing each and every mode in more detail in a future chapter, but for now, I want you to notice how the modes are actually combined into six different groups. And that tells you that each of the modes inside the groups is related to each other. So let's take a look at how those groups work. I have opened an image called The 27 blend modes.psd found inside the 01_intro folder. Let's start off by taking a look at the Normal modes which include Normal and Dissolve.
Now Normal, strictly speaking, is not a blend mode. In fact, it turns the blend mode off so that we're creating an interaction between layers, for example, exclusively using the Opacity values. Dissolve is a lot like the Normal mode. It doesn't create any specific interaction between pixels. Instead, it goes ahead and applies a dither pattern to the translucent areas, so you get noise around the edges of the soft image, for example, and we'll see what that looks like in the very next chapter. Next we have the Darken modes and when you chose a Darken mode, you use the active layer to darken the layers below it as if that layer is casting a shadow.
Now I'll be devoting an entire chapter to this group of modes. But in the meantime, it's often useful to think of these modes as burning colors in, just as when you burn a piece of toast, for example, you end up darkening it. Next we have the Lighten modes which use the active layer to brighten the layers below as if creating a glow. Each of these modes has an opposing mode as paired sequentially in a Darken group. So what I mean by that, for example, is that the Lighten mode is effectively the opposite of the Darken mode, whereas Screen is effectively the opposite of Multiply, Color Dodge is the opposite of Color Burn, and so on down the list.
The next group is the largest one. We've got seven Contrast modes in all, all the way from Overlay down to Hard Mix. And in the case of these modes, the dark pixels in the active layers burn in the shadows, so they darken those shadows. The light pixels boost the highlights. So in other words, we're darkening the darkest pixels, lightening the lightest pixels, and the result is an elevation in the contrast of the composite image. Once again, I'll be devoting an entire chapter to this group of modes. The next group is a little bit of a muddle. It's kind of a two groups in one.
First we have the Difference and Exclusion modes, which are the so-called Inversion modes because they use the active layer to invert those below. Similar pixels, that is, a pixel in the active layer that's very similar to the pixel directly below it becomes black in the case of the Difference mode or gray in the case of the Exclusion mode. Subtract and Divide are the Cancellation modes and they cancel pixels by clipping them to black in the case of the Subtract mode, or white in the case of the Divide mode.
These guys are a little unusual, a little bit complicated as well. They can be pretty useful, however, and once again, I'll show you how they work in a future chapter. Finally, we have the Component or so-called HSL modes. A pixel that is the color of the pixel, can be expressed as a combination of the primary component's Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity. Now Color is a combination of Hue and Saturation mixed together. And I mentioned that because if you look at the modes, we have Hue and Saturation and then Luminosity down here at the bottom.
Color, as I say, is a combination of the two above it. These final modes, that is, Hue all the way down through Luminosity mix the primaries independently in order to achieve different effects. So I know that's an awful lot of information to take in, in one movie. But for now here's where I want you to remember. We've got 27 common blend modes in all organized into a total of six groups here inside Photoshop.
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