Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this movie, I'll demonstrate the fifth group of blend modes, which are color-coded in purple inside of this diagram. The first two -- Difference, and Exclusion -- are inversion modes that have been included in the software for a long time now. The other two were added recently, and they're known as the cancelation modes. And the thinking was, according to some programmers at Adobe, they wanted to round out the basic arithmetic. So where the Layers panel is concerned, we already had Linear Dodge, which adds luminance levels, so we might as well get Subtract as well, and then we've got Multiply, which actually does multiply luminance levels, so they figured they might as well add Divide.
Neither of them is terribly useful for layering, and in truth, they're duplicates of blend modes that already exist. So let me show you what's up here. I'm going to switch over to this version of the image with light bulb, and I'm going to scroll down to the wrestlers layer. I'll go ahead and select it, and I'm going to change the blend mode from Linear Burn to Difference, which incidentally is far and a way the most useful of this group of modes. Now, what we're seeing here is Photoshop is subtracting the luminance level on the active layer from the luminance level on the composite layers below.
So, for example, when you subtract black, as in the jackets, you don't do anything, so black is a neutral color, which is why we can see through the jackets. On the other hand, when you subtract white, as in the case of this background, you do serious damage to an image, because white is such a big thing to subtract. So the question is, why don't we just see blackness in the background? And the answer is because Photoshop is taking in absolute value. In other words, if the results of the formula is a negative number, Photoshop makes it positive. And as a result, white ends up inverting.
So black does nothing, white inverts, and everything else does something in between, which means that if you want to get a more normal effect, you need to invert the layer. So I'm going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, click the black/white icon and choose the Invert Command. I'm going to call this layer reverse, and turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, so we're inverting the active layer only, and I'll click OK. And now, by virtue of the fact that we're turning the background black, it has no effect, so we're seeing through to the parchment, and because we're inverting the jackets to make them white, they are inverting the background.
Another thing to note about Difference is, when two like colors encounter each other, in other words, the pixel on the active layer matches the pixel behind it, then the result of the Difference mode is black. Compare that, if I go ahead and click on the wrestler's layer, to the next blend mode in the list; I'll press Shift+Plus in order to advance to Exclusion. Exclusion does much of the same thing. Black is the neutral color; it doesn't do anything. White inverts absolutely. However, the colors in between don't go nearly as far, so when the luminance level of a pixel matches that of the pixel behind it, you don't get black; you get gray instead.
So exclusion produces a more tepid effect. If I press Shift+Plus again, we advance to the Subtract mode, which goes ahead and subtracts out the luminance levels without finding the absolute value the way that Difference mode does. So it's very similar to Difference, with the big exception that white, which is the color of the jackets now, because they've been inverted, goes ahead and gets subtracted out to beyond black, so you can end up getting some very, very dark effects indeed. Now, you may look at this composition and think, gosh! This looks pretty familiar, and sure enough, it is.
If I go up to the File menu, and I choose Revert command, or I press F12, you're going to see the exact same effect. The big difference is that the wrestlers layer here is set to the Linear Burn mode, whereas, if I press Control+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac, to reinstate the Subtract mode, again, it looks exactly the same. And that's because applying Linear Burn to a layer is the same as inverting that layer, and then applying Subtract, which is why I say subtract isn't really a new mode, and it also existed elsewhere inside the software.
All right, now let's switch over to this image, which is a variation on the composition with a low contrast version of the wrestlers layer set to Color Dodge. And the reason I'm setting it to Color Dodge is because Divide and Color Dodge are very similar to each other. So what I'm going to do is turn off this Reverse layer here, which is an Invert adjustment layer. And you can see that Color Dodge now blows the heck out of the composition, and I'll switch the mode from Color Dodge to Divide, and we end up getting the exact same effect.
And to prove that, I'll go back up to the File menu, and choose the Revert command, or press F12, and we're seeing exactly the same thing. So applying the Divide mode to a layer is exactly the same thing as inverting the layer, and applying Color Dodge. All right, so that gives you a sense of how the Inversion and Cancelation modes work. If you want to find out some uses for them, you can check out my Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending course, included along with lynda.com. To learn a really great use for the Difference mode, stay tuned for the very next movie.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 50080 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 37417 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81220 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 10725 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.