Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
All right, this exercise may seem a little theoretical at first. But I want you to have as clear of an idea into how blend modes work as I can possibly convey. If nothing else, I want you to feel routinely confident in your use of the Multiply and Screen modes, because they are second only in utility to the Normal mode inside Photoshop. Now I'm going to convey a little bit of math to you. I know, not everybody is comfortable with math. Probably, most of you are not comfortable with math. However, I think it'll prove to be a tad bit insightful.
It'll give you a sense of what's going on. But again, it's not critical. We will get to some practical Photoshop stuff in this exercise. I've gone ahead and restored the saved version of Paper pushers.psd. I'm going to twirl open this text elements group. Inside, is a nested group called blend math. Go ahead and turn it on. You will see the math behind the Multiply, Screen, and Burn and Dodge modes. So Multiply it really is straight out multiplication. Check that out. It's A * B. Now what in the world does that even mean? Well, A is a pixel on the active layer.
B is a composite pixel below it; so A for active, B for below. These are luminance levels by the way on a channel by channel basis. Which may make some of you think, if you're multiplying luminance levels; you must be getting crazy bright, not darkening things up. Well, I'll come back to that later. But for now, just know that this is the math. Now you look at Screen and it doesn't seem to be the opposite at all. We've got all this one minuses all over the place. Well, anytime you see 1-, all it means is that the luminance level gets inverted.
So we're taking an inverted A times an inverted B. So that's pretty much the opposite of A*B. We're inverting that, in order to get the Screen effect. So that's how we end up getting opposite results is by inverting the luminance levels. Over here with Color Burn, we've got an inverted B divided by A. Then we're inverting the entire thing; whereas with Color Dodge, it's B divided by an inverted A. Then over here with Linear Burn, we're taking A Plus B. We're adding the luminance levels, and we're subtracting one.
What that means is we're essentially subtracting white. So again, we're getting an inversion there. Then Linear Dodge, it's just straight out A+B. So you might think, because Linear Dodge is Add, that is the same darn thing. You would think that the opposite of add would be subtract. It's not really the way it works inside of Photoshop. It's this inversion that gives us opposite effects. All right, so let's see what that means. I'll actually demonstrate that to you. I'll turn off that blend math, so that those of you who don't like math, can breathe easily now. I'll twirl close the text elements group.
Now let's go ahead and assign a blend mode to wrestlers. The mode I'm going to assign is Multiply by pressing Shift+Alt+M, or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. Then I'm going to bring up the layer Comps panel, which you can also do by the way by choosing the layer Comps commands from the Window menu. I'm going to create a new comp by clicking on this little Page icon. I'm going to call it Multiply. I'll make sure that not only Visibility is turned on, but Appearance is turned on as well. That's very important, because that's not only going to save your layer styles, like drop shadows, and that kind of stuff. But it's also going to save your blend modes, your opacity levels, any of the parametric blending stuff that's associated with the layer.
All right, go ahead and click OK in order to create that comp. All right, now let's see what an opposite effect would look like. I'm going to go ahead and hide the layer Comps panel for a moment. I'll press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S on the Mac to change the wrestler's layer to its exact opposite, which is Screen. We end up keeping the wrestlers background, because it's white, and dropping out the dark portions of that layer. Now bear in mind, everybody is lightening. Even those very dark colors are lightening. The only color that's absolutely transparent right now is black. All right, it's just so that we can see the effects better, I'm going to twirl open this future stuff group.
I'm going to scroll to the bottom, and I'm going to turn on that invert adjustment layer. You may recall it, bright to dark. So bear in mind that's how the math was working, right? We're inverting that Background layer. All right, the next thing that I want to do, notice right now, we're seeing basically a negative effect of the image. That is, we're keeping the background information, and we're losing the foreground information, because the background was bright and the foreground was dark. Let's go ahead and turn that equation on its head by inverting this layer right here. We're going to do so, because we need to keep track of our changes in the layer Comps panel.
We're going to create this aversion parametrically. That is, we're going to apply it with an adjustment layer. So I'm going to twirl future stuff close again. With the wrestler's layer active, I'm going to add an invert layer by bringing out my Adjustments panel. Then I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on this first icon in the third row. That's for Invert. Because I have the Alt or Option key down, I'm getting the New layer dialog box. I'm going to call this layer couple bright, because they're going to become bright now, and their background is going to become dark. I'm going to turn on Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask, so that the effect is clipped just to the wrestler's layer.
It's affecting the wrestler's layer and nothing more. I'll click OK. We end up getting this effect right there. Now what we're seeing now is exactly the opposite. I'll go ahead and bring up the layer Comps panel for a moment. It's exactly the opposite of that Multiply effect. They are pixel for pixel opposites now. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z to Undo the application of that layer comp. To demonstrate that, I'm going to add, one more layer of inversion. This is going to affect the entire image now.
So I'll return to the Adjustments panel. Currently, the Invert layer is active. So we're seeing No options for Invert in this ginormous area. That's helpful. Then I'm going to click on this left pointing arrowhead in order to return to my list of adjustments and I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click on this guy once again on that same Invert button. I'll call this one Invert All. I will not turn on the check box, I'll leave it off. I'll click OK. That inverts the effect we were seeing just a moment ago. Now to prove that they are opposites, I'm going to go ahead and bring up layer Comps.
I'll click to create a New layer Comp. I'll click on this little page icon. I'll call this one Screen Invert. Then I'll make sure that the Appearance check box is turned on. Click OK. Now this is the effect we've created using these Invert layers, and the Screen mode. This is the effect of using Multiply. So they are the same. Notice inverts are turned off now, the wrestler's layer is now set to Multiply, and so on. So we're getting identical effects. All right, as long as I've set up this structure here, I might as well demonstrate it for the other modes as well.
So with a wrestler's layer active, and having switched to the Multiply layer comp, I'll go ahead and change my mode from Multiply to Color Burn, so that we achieve this affect right here. I'll update my layer comp, because we're going to come back to it in just a moment by clicking on this Update icon. Why don't I go ahead and rename this Darken, instead, so that it's not specific to the Multiply mode. Now I'm going to go ahead and click in front of the Screen Invert, so that we're setting the wrestler's layer back to Screen. It's turning the Invert layers on as well. I'll change the mode from Screen to Color Dodge.
I'll go ahead and update this layer comp by clicking on the Update icon. I'll rename this layer comp Lighten invert. Now let's go and compare them. This is the Darken version that uses the Color Burn mode. This is the Lighten version that's using the Color Dodge mode. Again, they are pixel for pixel identical. All right, switch back to Darken once again. Now you might argue, I'm now belaboring the point, but I still want you to see it. I'm going to go ahead and switch from Color Burn to Linear Burn for wrestlers, and update that layer comp. Then I'll switch to Lighten invert right there, and change its mode from Color Dodge to Linear Dodge (Add), update that layer comp as well.
Now this is the Linear Burn version of the effect and this is the Linear Dodge version, again pixel for pixel identical. So the practical application of all this is, if you want a darkening effect, if you want to burn one image into another, then you apply one of the darkening blend modes. Multiply is your best bet with Linear Burn as a backup. If you want a lightening effect, such as the one I would achieve if I turn the Invert all layer off. Then you want to apply one of the brightening blend modes, in order to dodge one image into another. Your best bet is going to be Screen with Linear Dodge as a backup.
Everything is parametric. You're not harming a single pixel inside of your image and they are convenient and ultimately easy options to apply.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
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.