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Advanced Blending is the second installment in Deke McClelland's series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course explores blending options and shows how to use them to create sophisticated effects and seamless compositions, often without masking. Beginning with the basics of blending layered images, the course sheds light on the formulas behind the Photoshop blend modes and shows how to comp scanned line art, create double-exposure effects, correct skin tones, and work with the luminance sliders.
In this exercise we're going to take a look at the two simplest Lighten modes, which are Lighten and Lighter Color. Currently I have the night layer turned on here inside the Layers panel, I'm also going to turn on the hoody layer and click on it. Now notice that this image is set against the black background, but the background doesn't extend all the way to the left-hand side. If I go ahead and grab my Magic Wand Tool just so I can task what's going on inside this layer. And then I set my Tolerance value to 0, Anti-alias is turned off, and Contiguous is turned on, then I'll click inside the background to the left of this fellow's hood and you can see that I'm selecting the entire background which tells me it is one continuous color.
If I press the I key to switch to the eyedropper and then click inside that area, the color panel is telling me that this is absolute black, which means that if I apply a Lighten mode to this layer, any of the five lighten modes in fact, then this background is going to entirely disappear. So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image. And now I'm going to change the Blend Mode from Normal to Lighten, and you can see that in fact that background entirely disappears and the significance is that we don't have any edge along the left-hand side of this layer.
All right, now as you may recall from my discussion of darken versus darker color, the difference is that darken for example is applied on a channel-by-channel basis, but darker color is applied to the composite image. The same is true of lighten versus lighter color. So in a case of lighten we're seeing Photoshop keep the pixel in the active layer if it's lighter than the pixel behind it on a channel-by-channel basis, which means that we end up achieving a little bit of a transition here inside the composite full-color preview.
But again if you were to go to the Channels panel and check things out then you would see that we have some stark transitions in the Red channel, equally stark transitions in the Green channel, and stark transitions in the Blue channel. The reason they end up reconciling fairly smoothly in a composite is because those transitions are different in each and every one of the channels. Compare that to, if I were to switch back to the Layers panel and change the Mode from Lighten to Lighter Color. In this case we end up with some very sharp transitions, either a pixel is on or it's off, because the blend mode is applied in exactly the same way to each and every channel.
So that's how Lighten and Lighter Color work. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to use the Lighten mode to achieve a filtering effect.
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