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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 demonstrate the behind and clear modes. Both of which are part of the normal group, but they're not found inside the Layers panel, instead they're associated with a handful of the Paint and Edit tools as well as the Fill and Stroke commands. I'm working inside a file called Big blue marble.pds, found inside the 03_normal folder. Notice that the marble layer is selected here in the Layers panel and I've gone ahead and assigned a white stroke, just so we can easily keep track of the edges of this layer. I have also set my foreground color to red in advance, I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the Brush Tool, which I can get by pressing the B key, and armed with my walk on tablet, I'm going to go ahead and paint a brush stroke over the Earth like so, and so this is the effect of normal painting on a layer inside a Photoshop, and notice that the program went ahead and automatically traced the stroke around the new contours of the layer.
Now let's say I want to paint exclusively inside the layer, I want to affect the opaque pixels, respect the transparency, so that I'm effectively painting inside the lines. Well, then I would go over to the top of corner of the layers panel and turn on the first lock icon, which locks down the transparent pixels, you can also by the way invoke that icon by pressing the slash key. So in my case, slash would turn it off and then slash would turn it back on. Now, if I paint somewhere inside the layer, I will paint my brushstroke exclusively inside the Earth or inside the existing red brushstroke.
That's not technically speaking a blending option, I only bring it up, because what if you want to do exactly the opposite, instead of painting inside the opaque region of the layer, you want to paint exclusively in a transparent portion of the layer, then turn off that lock icon, that's very important, and then go up to the Mode option here on Options bar and switch it from Normal to Behind. So you will effectively paint behind the layer even though I should say you're still painting on the layer, you're just expanding the transparent region. What I'm going to do is press the Escape key, so that option is no longer active at the top of the window there, and then I'm going to press the DekeKey in order to make my foreground color black and notice now as I paint, I'm painting exclusively behind the Earth and that red brushstroke that I drew a moment ago.
So that's how the Behind mode works. There is one more, and that's a Clear mode. If I switch the mode option from Behind to Clear, and notice that these two options are part of that first normal group, then I effectively turn my paintbrush into an eraser, so that I can erase lines into the world here. The effect here isn't any different than painting with the Eraser Tool, so it's kind of a duplicate effect. However, if you're using the Brush Tool and you want to erase on the fly, it's a convenient way to go. Remember that you have a keyboard shortcut for the clear mode, which is Shift+Alt+R or Shift+Option+R on the Mac.
That's how the Behind and Clear modes work when combined with the Brush Tool. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to make use of both of those modes using the Fill and Stroke commands.
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