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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.
All right, this next technique is totally going to give away when I went to high school. I call it the `80s Pop Art technique and if you think back to the `80s, if you were in high school with me back then, think back to some of your old pop groups like AHA or Duran Duran and their album covers had these really posterized black and white art with kind of a color wash over the top. So that's kind of work we are going with this particular technique. We are going to use a combination of duplicate layers along with some blend modes to achieve this effect.
So let's get started. We'll Command+J or Ctrl+J and that will duplicate the current layer. I'm going to go ahead and rename this de-saturate, because you want to work with a black and white version of this original, so Command+Shift+U or Ctrl+Shift+U will just be the very quick de-saturate command. We are going to go ahead and duplicate this layer. This time I want to name the duplicate as I make it, so I'm going to add Option or Alt to that shortcut. Command+Option+J or Ctrl+Alt+J. And we are going to call this Invert+Hard Mix+Blur. I'm going to do all three of these things to this duplicate. Go ahead and click OK.
First thing we do is invert it, Command+I or Ctrl+I on Windows. Then we are going to change the blend mode to Hard Mix and what Hard Mix does is it posterizes your layer and blends it down with a layer underneath it. Doesn't look very appealing right now, but it's doing a really harsh posterization between two grayscale images here. But we are going to add a Gaussian Blur to this and you're really going to see this effect start to pop out, no pun intended. We want to be able to control the amount of blur after the fact and we want to fine-tune it, so I'm going to convert this layer to a Smart Object by right-clicking and choosing Convert to Smart Object. And then we'll go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and this is where you're going to start to seeing the posterization be a little bit more like we want, to have this kind of charcoal drawing effect if you will. So what Radius you want is completely up to you.
I'm going to go with, what the heck, 6.8 looks good to me, okay. Click OK. Nice thing is that if you want to go back and fine-tune this at any point, you just double click on Gaussian Blur and it brings it right back. It's non-destructive and you can go do what you want there. Last thing we want to put the color wash on top of this so we are going to go back to our original source layer, the background layer, we are going to duplicate it, Command+J or Ctrl+J, and we'll move it to the top of the stack like so. And then we need to blend these colors back through the big black areas of pixels there.
So we are going to use the Multiply blend mode to do that. And now we have got our final effect. Now if you want to lower the intensity of the color, you just play with the Opacity of that Multiply layer. I want to go ahead and get my Move tool, press V for the Move tool, and I'll stay with say maybe 70%. Just to get a nice subtle pastel-y type color to kind of match that. What I'm remembering of the old Duran Duran or whatever album covers I have somehow got stuck in my brain. All right, so there we have it, play around with all these different variables. But there's your `80s Pop Art Effect using the combination blend modes including Hard Mix and just playing around with Blur and Opacity to achieve your final effect.
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