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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.
I really love the lighting on this image. It's just a beautiful shot and nice warm tones, the sun coming through the hat, but I want to emphasize it a little bit more and make it a little bit more dramatic. This is one of those techniques where you do a self blend, again. What I mean is you duplicate the layer and you apply a blend mode to it, and maybe even do a blur. So let's begin. Let's do a Command+J or Ctrl+J to duplicate this layer. Go and rename this Dramatic Glow. We can go ahead and do a blur. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and yeah, 20 pixels, 10 pixels, somewhere in there. You're just trying to get a nice overall averaging of the pixels there. You're going to blend back down.
Let's just go for the middle, and go for 15, and let's change our blend mode to Overlay. That will give us really contrast-y dramatic glow here. You're seeing just a softening of the tones, and because of the contrast blend mode you get increased contrast, but you also get increased saturation. So if you like the overall look, but you want to fine tune a little bit, you can of course lower the opacity. If I have my Move tool selected, V if you don't, just type a number on the keyword to change the overall blend between the Dramatic Glow layer and the Background layer. So if I press 5, I get 50% of the effect. If I go back to 0, that's 100%. So you have a lot of variation there available.
Then if you don't like how much the saturation has increased, you can add an adjustment layer to compensate for that as well. So we'll go to our Adjustments panel, and we'll choose the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer, and if you want to take it all the way down, you can just drag the saturation slider all the way down, which you'll notice that that makes the whole image black and white. That's not what we want. We just want it to affect the Dramatic Glow layer. So we want to clip this to the Dramatic Glow layer by itself. By default an adjustment layer affects every layer underneath it. We're going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows, and click in between the two layers. You'll see the cursor change when you bring your cursor right in between the two layers. Option-click to clip the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer, just to affect the Dramatic Glow layer. Here's before, here's after.
You can see I still will get that nice soft dramatic glow increasing the contrast, but not blowing out the color so much. If you want to bring some of the color back, then you can select the adjustment layer, again, with the Move tool selected. V if you don't have it. You can start playing with the opacity by typing numbers here as well. So if I type 5, I get 50%, and I bring some of that saturation back, but not full strength, as if it was all the way down to say 10%. You can see the difference there. So I'm going to take it back down to maybe 70%. I want some of that saturation there, but not all of it. Now I've got a really nice, dramatic glow.
I warmed up the colors, and just made the image pop a little bit more on a nice atmospheric way.
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