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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
Welcome to the chapter on blending modes. In this initial movie, we are going to start to talk a little bit about blending modes, and also we're going to take a look at how they work. We will be working on this file here, its blending.psd, you can find in the Chapter 19 folder. Let's go ahead and open this soon up in Photoshop, and take it to Full Screen View mode. All right, well now that we have this open in Photoshop, you may be thinking, "Okay Chris, why are you starting our conversation about blending modes with a photograph of a painting?" Well, this particular painting was done by one of my all time favorite artists and friends, Andy Davis, and I really like his work. So this painting isn't quite complete. And you know one time I was hanging out in his studio in San Diego, California, and I was looking as at his work and I was really thinking about how it's so amazing how he blends colors together.
Now this painting isn't complete as I mentioned. You can see how the color blended so well together in the wave and the bubbles back here, but right here on the surfer which isn't quite complete, there isn't any blending. I was thinking about that and I was thinking about the art of blending color, and then also how that relates to our use of blending modes in Photoshop. I really do think there is an art and a craft to using these blending modes, and I think that we can accomplish things that would have otherwise been unimaginable if we can really understand how these blending modes work. So you know the trick right? If you ever want to learn how something works in Photoshop, create a gray scale, and then start to modify that gray scale to begin the de-construct it. So here I have a Grayscale layer, I'm going to go ahead and turn the visibility of that layer on. I'm now going to navigate to my Layers panel, and click on the Blending Mode pulldown menu.
Now the first thing that you will notice here is that you have different groups of blending modes. At the top we have Normal, Dissolve, then we have Darken and here's a group, and then we have Lighten in other group, Overlay in other group, then Difference, Exclusion and Hue, Saturation, and Color. Well, how do these actually work? Let's begin to de-construct these just a little bit. If I go ahead and select Multiply, or Darken for that matter, one of the things that I noticed in regards to my grayscale is that it just affected the darker pixels. Now the brighter or the white pixels weren't really affected here. Let's turn off this layer set here of Andy Davis so we can see that on a grayscale. Interesting. So when I went from Normal down to Darken, I see it's just affecting this portion of the grayscale, okay. Well, I'm kind of beginning to teach myself how these work. What about Lighten? I'll go ahead and take Lighten, okay, well, just the opposite happened. Now it's just focusing in on the bright tones.
I'm also kind of teaching myself that if I have an object on a black background and the object is bright and white, that blending mode maybe able to help knock out the black background. On the other hand, if I have an object that's pretty dark on a white background, I might be able to knock out that white background by that blending mode. Even more teaching me a little bit about what these blending modes are doing, and what they are targeting, okay, well so far we have looked at just a couple. What about this down here? I'll go ahead and select Overlay. Okay, well that kind of threw everything off, right? Because now I'm not really sure what's happening in comparison to Normal. Well, let's look at Normal. Okay, well there's Normal, and then when we look at Overlay, what's actually happening is it's increasing my overall contrast. We will go to Soft Light; we will be able to see it as way.
And here what's happening is, we are working a little bit on the white, and also little bit on the blacks. So if nothing else, we are starting to see that this group works on dark, this group works on lights, this group would not exactly show how those work, or come to understand those more, once we make it through our next movie. All right, what about this next set, Difference and Exclusion? Why don't you take a look at those? I want to pull up another image here. In this photograph, I have a background layer, and then I have a layer above it, this Copy Layer. We can see it's the same content. They are just not quite aligned. Well, I can use these blend modes of Difference and Exclusion for alignment purposes. I'll go ahead and navigate to Difference, and then I'm going to reposition this. You will notice when I get right exactly on, I'll use my arrow keys here, it's going to turn completely black, that's telling me that those two layers are now perfectly aligned.
Exclusion, we are going to see something similar, a little bit different, we can just see a little bit of that hallowing, when we see it's on, we will see that there isn't any real hallowing happening. We will go back to Difference for a second, so Difference sets, then go to Normal, and take a look, before and after. Now those two are perfectly aligned. One of the things I want you to keep in kind regards to these blend modes, is it a little about special effects, we can see kind of a color change, but even more functionally, they are great when you need to align things, or align different aspects of your images, that's really helpful for composites, or panoramas, or whenever you are combining multiple images.
All right, well the next set of blending modes down here are Hue, Saturation, and Color, are kind of interesting. In order to take a look at how those work, we will turn on this Color gradient, and I'm going to go ahead and select from my pulldown menu a blending mode of Color. Now that's kind of interesting. I can't exactly tell what's happening, but let's turn on the layer set for Andy Davis. Well, now with this Color blending mode, it's as if I'm seeing through the color. Now it's not completely true to the color, it wasn't the same exact color, let's go ahead and compare that to Normal. But what I'm beginning to see is, that this blending mode, or these blending modes down here are somehow going to help me work with color. Perhaps, they are going to even allow me to see through some of the density of the layer. And perhaps just use some of the color values in order to begin to blend the different layers together.
All right, well you are thinking, okay, kind of interesting, I can start to see this. Although it's a little bit hazy, well the intent of this initial movie is to just to say, you know what, there is an art in the craft to blending. First what we need to do is, start to begin to see how this roughly works; next what we are going to do is, really dig into some of the details of how this blending works, and we will do that in the next movie, see you then.
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