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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.
This next technique is one of my all time favorites and that's adding an Edge effect to an image to make a little bit more interesting. So here I have just a regular background image here, it can be any image, and what I have done is brought in an edge file, a file that I want to use to create a custom Edge effect. Now these Edge effects can be anything. It's a black against a white background and that black could be ink, it could be paint, it could be charcoal, it could be pencil, whatever. Just take a piece of white paper or canvas, whatever you want really and just drag out some sort of effect with your materials here. You can take pictures of something.
It really doesn't matter. You can create these yourself, there are tons of websites out there that distribute this type of stuff, there are products you can buy, or you can buy these edge files. The point being is that it's not that hard to get your own custom edge file. Once you've got it scanned or you take a picture of it, you bring it in the Photoshop and drag into this document or the document you want to use it in as its own layer. Now in this particular example, the edge file is not the same size as the image size. That's not too big of a problem here. We'll just Free Transform it and make it fit this particular file. To do that Command+T or Ctrl+T, puts a bounding box around that Edge layer, and we'll just go ahead and drag the handles out to the edge of the document until it fits. So real easy transformation here. We'll kind of make sure we fine-tune that there once we get it the way we want, press Enter and this now matches.
Now the trick is that you want your areas that are going to be hidden through black to be absolute black and the area that you want to show through and the white areas you want them to be absolute white. So depending on how you created this file, whether it's paint or you took a picture of it or whatever, and scanned it, you need to make sure that you force these to be absolute black and absolute white. Well, the easiest way to do that is to use your good friend Levels. Command+L or Ctrl+L to open up the Levels dialog box and then very quickly we are just going to click once on the Black Eyedropper and take our mouse into the image and click where you know something is supposed to be absolute black. One click forces that to happen. We'll get the White Eyedropper, and again we'll click in the image where you know something supposed to be white, and that forces those pixels to be white, and it leaves some nice gray pixels along the way, so you get nice soft edges. Go ahead and click OK.
Now it's just a matter of hiding the black stuff and keeping the white stuff, or the reverse depending on what Edge effect you want. Since we have primarily black in the middle and white on the outside, which blend mode ignores black? That would be one of the Lighten blend modes. So I'm going to try Screen. All these blend modes ignore dark pixels and there we have our Edge effect where the Screen blend mode is ignoring all the black pixels on that layer. The white pixels are already as white as they can be, so they don't make anything underneath them whiter, but I get left with this nice white Edge effect.
Now if I want the opposite of this, it's virtual. It's something that can be changed on the fly. I'm just going to invert my layer, Command+I or Ctrl+I, and I get the opposite of that, but now I don't have the right area being screened. So what blend mode ignores white pixels? The opposite of Screen is Multiply so we'll choose Multiply instead and sure enough I get the opposite effect. So with every edge file you create, you actually get two versions of the Edge effect basically for free. Right? Just invert the layer and switch the blend mode to get the opposite effect. So real easy Edge effects by using a custom edge file that's pretty easy to create and then just using the Multiply or Screen blend modes.
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