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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 will take a look at the three remaining darken modes, Multiply, Color Burn and Linear Burn. These are the ones that you'll be using on a regular basis, in particular Multiply, which is one of the big majorly used for blend modes inside Photoshop. I have restored the saved version of Darken demo.psd, found inside the 04_darken folder and this time around we are going to merge the model with the Wall layer in the background. So I am going to turnoff both the travertino and the water layers. And you can see, we've got the Model layer selected, if I turn her off for a moment, there is the Wall layer that we will blending her against.
I will go ahead and turn that layer back on and change the Blend Mode to Darken, just so you can get a sense of what that looks like. Now notice in this case, because she is a warm image set against a warm background, in other words, the pixel that's darkest ends up reconciling about the same way in each of the three color channels. So we have nothing resembling smooth transitions. Compare that to Multiply, if I were to press Shift++, that will advance to the next mode, which is the Multiply mode, and we've got these splendidly smooth transitions throughout the composition.
Now by way of analogy, imagine that you have two transparencies; the model has been rendered on one transparency, the wall on another. You take both of them, you set them on a light table on top of each other, and this is the effect that you would get. The light is shining through both of the transparencies growing darker with the application of each, and as a result you end up getting a darker combination of the two. Here's something to know about the Multiply mode though. It never results in clipping, so in other words, you are not going to clip any pixels to white or black unless it was already clipped to white or black before you started.
Multiply will not introduce clipping into the image, it can't, which is one of the wonderful things about the mode. And we will see a few applications for it in future exercises. If that's not quite the effect you're looking for, if it's too subdued for example, you can switch to one of the Burn modes, and we have got two of them to choose from, Color Burn and Linear Burn. Color Burn ends up producing a stark and highly saturated blend, as you can see here. It's almost as if the photograph of the model was burnt into the wall in the background, which can be great for creating special effects.
However, you end up losing a lot of contouring as well, as you can see here. Color burn, because it's one of the over the top effects, it's part of the Fill Opacity, meaning, that it responds differently to the Fill value, than it does to the Opacity value. So if you're tempted to back off the effect, what I suggest you do is reduce Fill as opposed to Opacity. So for example, if I press Shift+8 in order to reduce that Fill Opacity value to 80%, I end up achieving these more organic transitions. All right, I am going to press Shift+ 0 to restore the Fill value to 100%.
And then I will advance to the next blend mode by pressing Shift++ and that blend mode is Linear Burn. Now notice that we lose a lot of the over-the-top saturation, which is a good thing in my opinion, I really like is mode, I use it a lot. And we also restore a lot of the detail on the left side of the model's face. Now just for the sake of comparison, I want you to see multiply, and I am going to use its keyboard shortcut, which is Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. So that's the Multiply Mode, nice smooth transitions, but it doesn't necessarily have the impact of the Linear Burn mode, which has a keyboard shortcut of Shift+Alt+A or Shift+Option+A on the Mac.
The thing you need to bear in mind about both the Burn modes however is that they can, and most often do introduce clipping. And if they're going to clip anything, they're going to clip the shadow details, meaning that some of the shadow details are going to get in black. And if you want to check out what those details are, then just go ahead and create a Levels Adjustment layer. I am going to click of the black- white icon at the bottom of the panel and choose Levels, and that will open up the Adjustment Panel. You can see here on the left side of the histogram that we've got a lot of clipping going on, because we have a big huge spike right there in black.
If you want to check out where that clipping is occurring, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key and the Mac and click and hold on that black slider triangle. Any pixels that shows up is absolutely black, has been clipped in all three color channels, which is something of a dangerous thing potentially. Anywhere that you see any other colors showing up, meaning it's clipped in one or more color channels, White means no clipping is occurring. But just because clipping is not occurring at those locations, doesn't mean that you are going to be able to hold these very, very dark shadows when you go to print the image.
So what you might want to do is click on that Model Layer again in order to select it, Linear Burn, like Color Burn is part of the Fill Opacity eight, so it responds differently, generally better, to the fill value, than it does the opacity value. I am going to press Shift+8 in order to reduce that Fill value to 80%, and now if I click on the Levels layer once again and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click and hold on that black slider triangle, you can see that we have far less clipping going on inside the image. All right, I am going to go ahead and release the mouse button.
Just to burn in this information if you will, I am going to show you these three modes against a different background. I am going to collapse the Adjustments panel, so we have a little more room to work, click on the Model layer to make it active and then switch that layer back to Multiply and by pressing Shift +Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac, restore the Fill value to 100% by pressing Shift+0, and now I am going to turn on the Travertino layer so that we can see the model against this brighter, smoother, marble background. So this is the effect of placing her on one transparency, the marble on another, shining the light through both of them.
If I press Shift++, then we switch to the Color Burn mode, notice that we have all kinds of intensely saturated color values, a lot of color noise going on as a result. And then finally, if I press Shift++ again, I switch to Linear Burn, and we get some very dark shadow details, some clipping going on as well, but we are retaining more of the detail inside the face. So here's my advice, if you want to darken one image against another, and there's all kinds of reasons to do so, start with Multiply, that you are when in doubt darkening mode.
If that's not working for you, if that doesn't have enough impact, then go ahead and switch for Multiply to Linear Burn and see what that looks like. If you end up liking the effect, be sure to throw on a Levels Adjustment layer, and then press the Alt key or the Option key of the Mac and click and hold on that black slider triangle, just to get a sense of where the clipping is occurring inside the image. And that folks is how the major Darken Mode's Multiply, Color Burn and Linear Burn work here inside Photoshop.
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