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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.
Now of the amazing things about Blend modes is that just about every single one of them, 23 out of the 27 modes, include keyboard shortcuts and there are even some shortcuts for some modes I haven't told you about so far. So in this exercise, we'll walk through all those shortcuts. If you're not all that interested in shortcuts, great! Go ahead and skip to the next chapter. If you like shortcuts, however, go ahead and open up the file called Blend mode shortcuts.psd, it's found inside the 01_intro folder. Notice right off the bat here; we have shortcuts for switching to the next Blend mode or the previous Blend mode.
So pressing Shift++ will advance get you to the next mode in the list, pressing Shift+- will take you to the previous mode and let me show you how that works. If I go ahead and click, let's say, on this highlights layer which is currently set to Multiply mode, if I press Shift ++, I'll advance to the Color Burn mode, which is next in the list. If I press Shift+-, I'll return to Multiply mode. That happens, by the way, because I have one of the selection tools active and that's how it works when any of the tools except for this second group of Paint and Edit tools is selected.
If one of those tools is active, for example, if I switch to the Brush Tool, notice that the mode up here in the Options bar is set to Normal. If I press Shift++, I'll advance to Dissolve, if I press Shift+-, I'll return to the Normal mode. So just bear in mind that's how it works. Any time one of these Paint or Edit tools is selected, you're going to affect the mode assigned to that tool. The other really important thing to remember for those of you, who are working on the PC, is that you can deactivate the selected mode by pressing the Escape key.
So let's say, I go over here to the Blend mode pop-up menu and I manually choose the Normal mode. It ends up being sticky as you can see here and that can prevent you from taking advantage of other keyboard shortcuts. For example, at this point, if I press the 5 key in order to reduce the Opacity to 50%, nothing happens because this darn Blend mode is active. So what you have to do is press the Escape key in order to deactivate it here on the PC. That is only a PC problem; you Macintosh people are just fine.
All right, I am going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to reinstate the original Blend mode. Now let's take a look at the Blend mode specific keyboard shortcuts, all of which involve you pressing Shift+Alt here on a PC or Shift+Option on the Mac along with the letter key here inside the list. And again, that's going to affect the active layer assuming that any tool except for a Paint or Edit Tool is selected. If a Paint or Edit Tool is selected, you'll end up changing the mode assigned to that tool.
Now many of the keyboard shortcuts make sense. For example, for Normal, you just press Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N on the Mac. That's a good one to keep in mind, by the way. I definitely recommend you memorize it because it's really handy to be able to return to Normal by pressing Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N on the Mac as opposed to manually choosing the mode from a list. Now I should say that I don't necessarily recommend that you memorize all of these shortcuts. I never have, for example, I can't keep track of them all. There is just no reason to, because you won't be using most of the Blend modes often enough to need shortcuts.
So what I've done is I've gone ahead and circled each one of the shortcuts that I think is worth memorizing. And I've even gone ahead and provided mnemonics for all of the shortcuts in the event that they're not obvious just to help you out. Another obvious one, by the way, is Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M for Multiply as well as Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+S for screen. Those are two really great Go To modes as we'll see. Any time you want to burn one layer into another, Multiply is the first and foremost way to go.
Any time you want to use a layer to lighten the one below it, then Screen is the best way to go. So bear those two in mind. Now if you want to up the effect, for example, you want something that's darker than Multiply and has dare I say a little more pizzazz associated with it, then you'll most likely skip Color Burn and go to Linear Burn. But its keyboard shortcut is not obvious. Now I'll tell you, I've come up with different ways to memorizing this over the years, but the one that is stuck for me is that it really has the wrong shortcut.
It has a shortcut of Shift+Alt+A or Shift+Option+A on a Mac which should have been assigned to Linear Dodge ( Add) which is its opposite effect. So it ends up getting the opposite of keyboard that it should've gotten and as I say that is the memory trigger that has worked for me. Now if you are interested in upping the Blend mode from Screen to something even brighter, then you'll probably skip Color Dodge down to Linear Dodge which has a keyboard shortcut of W which doesn't make any sense unless you think of it as being two upside down As, A for Add once again. All right! I am going to go ahead and scroll down the list to the Contrast modes and those first three Contrast modes are extremely useful.
The one that you'll go to most often is Overlay which has an obvious shortcut of Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac. Next, we have Soft Light which is a more subtle contrast mode. It has a keyboard shortcut of F. After all, S is already taken by Screen, so we've got F which is the third letter in the word Soft. Then next we have a Blend mode that is kind of an upside down version of Overlay. You'll see how it works, very useful. It provides a little more contrast than Overlay does and it has an obvious keyboard shortcut of Shift+Alt+ H or Shift+Option+H on the Mac.
Now if you want the ultimate degree of contrast, then you'll skip Vivid Light and go all the way down to Linear Light here which has a keyboard shortcut of J which is a backward L, that's all I've ever thought for it. Unfortunately L which you would hope it would get has been assigned to Hard Mix which is not a Blend mode you'll use very often, but you can think of it as being that ultimate mode in the fill opacity eight. Next, we've got Difference; very useful mode as we'll see. It has a keyboard shortcut of E, which is the last letter in Difference, because D got assigned to Color Dodge.
And then finally, down here at the end the list, notice that we have Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity. I recommend that your member that the keyboard shortcut for Hue is U. So Shift+Alt+U or Shift+Option+U on the Mac and that only figures because if you press Ctrl+U or Command+U on a Mac, you get the Hue/Saturation command. Then if you want to apply Color, a very useful mode indeed then you press Shift+Alt+C or Shift+Option+C on a Mac, that's pretty obvious and then finally, Luminosity; another great one, it's the opposite of Color as we'll see once again.
Then you press Shift+Alt+Y or Shift+ Option+Y on a Mac and that's the last letter in Luminosity. Now I've also gone ahead and included the other Shift+Alt or Shift+Option keyboard shortcut variations that are available to you. They only work, however, when specific paint or Edit tools are active, especially the Brush Tool. So all of these shortcuts affect the Brush Tool and if you press Shift+Alt+P or Shift+Option+P on the Mac then you switch to the Airbrush Mode which is not a Blend mode; it's just an option associated with the Brush and some of the other tools.
And then we have two, I guess, you would call them Blend modes, we'll see how they work in a couple of chapters. But we've got the Behind mode which has a shortcut of Shift+Alt+Q or Shift+Option+Q on a Mac, I don't know what to tell you about that, it's the letter after P. And then we've got the Clear mode, which allows you to treat a tool like an eraser and it has a shortcut of Shift+Alt+R or Shift+Option+R which is the last letter in Clear. But, as you can see, I haven't bothered to circle any of these shortcuts, because I don't consider them to be worth memorizing. All right! That's it, folks.
Those are the shortcuts that are available to you. In the next chapter, we are going to talk about the math behind blending inside Photoshop. If you don't want to know about the math, then go ahead and skip that chapter in which case, I'll show you how to use the Normal modes.
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