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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now I don't know about you but when I look at this image, I'm thinking, man, this image could use a lightning bolt coming out of that cloud and hitting that horizon line, don't you think? Me too. So let's learn how to create lightning and just kind of as a reminder here, we are not really learning how to do lightning here. I want to reinforce what the Screen mode is all about, the Screen blending mode. Let's get started by creating a new layer, and if I hold down the Option key or Alt as I click on the layer, I get a chance to name it. So I'll go ahead and call it Lightning. Great. And to create lightning in Photoshop, we'll start with our default colors, black and white.
Just press D for default black and white and then we'll go to the Filter menu > Render > Clouds. Kind of make sense, right? In order to have lightning in the sky, there probably needs to be clouds first. Next we'll go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. Now it may be tough to see but you can start faintly seeing that it started some streaks here. So to extrapolate those streaks, we want to push the Levels around. Command+L, Ctrl+L to bring up the Levels dialog box and we'll grab that white slider and drag it all the way over to the left like so, stopping right about there.
In that middle triangle lets us decide how much glow we want around the lightning. So that works out to be just like that. I will go ahead and press OK and now the lightning is taking shape but I don't know about you, I usually see white lightning against a black background. This is the opposite of that. So I need to invert my layer. Command+I or Ctrl+I to invert the layer. Now if there is only a way I could make those black pixels go away. I know. I'll use the Tragic Wand tool, right? I'll press Tragic Wand tool and we'll Shift-click through the black stuff. No, we are not going to do that, Command+D. There is a blend mode that ignores black, remember what it is? If you go to the Blend Mode list, all the Lighten blend modes ignore black and make stuff lighter.
So I'm going to choose the Screen blend mode, one of the blend modes in the Lighten group. And look at that, the black pixels on that layer just disappear. It's as if they are not even there. I'm going to get my Move tool. I'm just going to move the Lightning layer into position where I want the lightning to occur. I just pick the lightning bolt I want. Incidentally, when you run Clouds, note that's random filter so every time you run it, it will be different. So if you don't like a particular lightning bolt shape that you ended up with, you can always just start over and run Clouds and Difference Clouds again. All right, so I like this lightning bolt here. I just want that one though.
So I'm going to add a layer mask to the bottom of the layer panel. We'll go and we'll click on the Add Layer Mask button. I'll get my Brush tool, B for Brush. I'm going to make the brush a little bit larger and I'm just going to paint with black wherever I don't want the lightning. I want to paint with 100% Opacity and I'll just paint out the lightning bolts. I don't care about like these over here. I'll just hide those with the layer mask and then we'll touch this up by getting rid of this part of the lightning bolt. I want this to fade into the clouds. So I'm going to lower my opacity. Well, first let's get rid of the stuff above the water. Good, like so, and then to get rid of the extra bolt there in the cloud, I'm going to press 5 for 50% to change my brush to 50% and I'll just kind of fade that top part out.
So it looks like it's kind of coming into the cloud. All right, there you have it, lightning magically with Photoshop, but the trick here is doing it on a layer where you can then set the blend mode to Screen so that all the black stuff just goes away.
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