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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.
So while I was here at the lynda.com offices to record this training title, I was having lunch with Bruce Heavin and he is one of the founders of the company along with his wife Lynda, and Bruce just happens to be an awesome illustrator. He creates great little pictures like this one here. He was just doodling and I'm like oh, I want to use that in my title. Can you scan that for me? He was like, well, I'll just take a picture of it with my iPhone and I'll mail it to you. So it has gotten to the point now where you don't even need to scan these type of napkin drawings or pencil drawings or whatever. You can just take a little snapshot with it, your little pocket camera or the camera on your cell phone, in this case the iPhone. And once you get into Photoshop, it's pretty easy to get this turn into line art that you can then start colorizing. So let's begin that process.
The goal here is we want the background of the illustration to be 100% solid white and then we want the line art of course to be a nice solid black with a little bit of gray pixels on the edge just to have nice soft non-jaggy edge there. So the trick here is to get rid of this background very quickly and easily. To begin, we are going to convert this Background layer to a layer that supports transparency. I'm going to Option+Double-click or Alt+Double-click on the name. We'll go ahead and click on the name and rename it Line Art like so. I'll press Enter to apply that.
Then we want to get rid of all the color on this layer. This was taken with a little camera and not scanned as grayscale, so a very quick command to desaturate an image. I'm going to hold down Command+Shift+U or Ctrl+Shift+U on Windows. This keeps it as an RGB file. We haven't changed the mode at all. We have just sucked out all the color on this particular layer and made it grayscale. Next, we want to force the background to be white. So I'm going to use our friend, the Levels dialog to do that, and once Levels is opened, I can use my White Eyedropper to click on a medium gray pixel here in the background, and force any pixel that's lighter than that to go to absolute white. And now you can see the Line Art itself got a little gray there. So I'm going to get my Black Eyedropper and we'll click on a dark gray pixel to force those pixels to go black.
Okay, I'm going to go ahead and click OK and I can do this in multiple passes. I may still have some residue background pixels there, so I'm going to go back to Levels again. We'll just get our White Eyedropper again and we'll click on these gray pixels here until they go white. You can drag and click there until you find the right one. Great, those are all gone now, and just checking our blacks, we'll click the Black Eyedropper one more time and click on a medium gray pixel on the dark areas to force those to go black as well. So that's looking pretty good. We have isolated our image. It's against a white background. I'm going to add a little bit of extra canvas here. I'm going to press C for the Crop tool, drag out a crop boundary for the entire document.
Once I let it go, I can grab the crop boundary again, and go beyond the original canvas. I'll go ahead and do that on this side a little bit, give it a little extra room. Once I get the extra areas sketched out here, I hit the Enter key, and I have expanded my document. Now we want a layer behind everything that we can blend back down to. So I'll click the New Layer icon, but before I do that, I'm going to hold down the Command key, Ctrl on Windows to create that layer below my current layer, and I'm going to fill this layer with white. White happens to be my background color right now. So I'll do Command+Delete or Ctrl+Backspace on Windows. The trick here now is that we want the white pixels of this Line Art layer to become transparent. Now there just happens to be a blend mode that ignores white. Do you remember what that is? If you go to the Blend Mode list up here, all the blend modes in the Darken group ignore white. So I'm going to change this to Multiply, and though it doesn't look any different on my actual image here, all the white pixels on the Line Art layer have now become transparent and I'm actually seeing the white pixels of Layer 1 show through.
To kind of prove that, I'm going to select Layer 1 and we'll go ahead, and click and create a new layer here, so it goes above Layer 1. I'll just go ahead and get my Paint Brush tool, B for brush, and we'll pick a hot pink color here, and I'm just going to start painting where the cat is and you can see I still see the black lines of the Line Art blending down through the pink layer and then the white layer underneath. So I'm not seeing any of the white pixels of the Line Art layer, those are all transparent. So I'll undo this painting here, Command+Z, Ctrl+Z. And now it's a matter of how you want to organize your color layers. Some people just have one layer that they used and they put all their different colors on one layer.
I like a little bit more control than that, so I'm going to name this pink, and I'm only going to paint pink paint on this pink layer. So I'm sampling from my Swatches panel, this little like pink color, and I want the nose to be pink. So I'm just going to paint the nose a little bit and I don't have to worry about painting over the lines of the black because the blend mode is protecting that as long as I stay within the lines and don't go outside into the other area like that. All right, so I'll undo that. I can just loosely paint within the black lines, I'll paint the tongue pink here, and I might want to create another layer for the bowl. So I'll click the New Layer button. We'll call that bowl. Good, and we'll pick a different color for the bowl, and maybe a dark green color for the MILK part of the bowl.
I will go ahead and just paint this quickly. And again, I can paint right over them, the MILK letters. I don't have to worry about trying to stay around those edges because the Multiply blend mode on the Line Art layer protects those areas. I can just go right behind them and I don't have to worry about being really careful there. So I'll go ahead and paint here, and I can increase my brush size by using the Bracket keys. I'll just make that a little bit bigger, and if I go outside the line, that's okay. It just makes it more of a fun little illustration.
I will pick a lighter green from the Swatches panel and we'll click back of the bowl here, paint that little bit different, just for a little contrast there. And again I can hold down the Option key or the Alt key that will turn my Brush into the Eyedropper tool, and I can click on that green paint again, and I can just touch up where I went a little bit careless there. So there, you get the idea. I won't bore you by painting the whole image here, but if you turn off the Line Art layer, you can see that's where I drop down paint. If I turn off the bowl layer here. So I have got a real easy way to go from paper napkin sketch to actual colorized Line Art in Photoshop taking advantage of blend modes and cool technology.
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