Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this movie, I'll demonstrate how to work with the second group of blend modes in the blend mode pop-up menu, and these include Darken through Darker Color, and they are known as the darken modes. And the reason is that they turn everything on the active layer into darkness, which is why they're also known as the shadow mode, because they effectively turn the layer into a shadow that's being cast onto the rest of the image. Even very bright colors in the active layer will create darkness, by the way, with the exception of one color: white.
If the active layer contains white pixels, then those pixels become transparent. So let's see how they work. I've got this background image, which is a photograph of some parchment from the Fotolia Image Library, about which you can learn more at Fotolia.com/Deke. I'm going to turn on this gradient layer, and click on it as well to make it active. So if you're looking at this image along with me, this is a radial gradient that's positioned near the top of the artwork. Notice, by the way, that the gradient starts white in the center, and becomes black around the perimeter of the canvas.
If I want to turn everything on this layer into a darkening agent, then I can switch from Normal to any of the darken modes, starting with Darken. And what the Darken mode does is it keeps the darkest pixel -- either on the active layer, or the composite version of all the layers below -- on a channel by channel basis. So if I switch over to the Channels panel, and click on Red, you'll see that some of the parchment is showing through, because it's darker, but most of the gradient is visible, because in the Red channel, mostly the gradient is darker, whereas if we switch to the Green channel, then we get more parchment details, because those pixels are darker.
Anywhere where we're not seeing a spot of parchment, then that means the respective gradient pixel is darker. And then if I switch to Blue, we get a lot more parchment, because the parchment is pretty dark in the Blue channel. Then when you switch to Red, you get an amalgam of everything mixed together. I'll go ahead and switch back to the Layers panel here, and I'll tell you that Darken, even though it's called Darken, is one of the lesser darkening modes. You're not going to find yourself using it very often. I will show you one use, however, before this movie is out. The better mode is the next mode down the list, which is Multiply.
And by the way, in addition to selecting Multiply from the menu, I'll show you a keyboard trick here. If you want to advance from one mode to the other, first of all, if you're working on a PC, make sure to press the Escape key, so the blend mode menu is not active. And then, whether Mac or PC, as long as one of the Selection tools is active, you can press Shift+Plus in order to advance to the next mode in the list. If you want to back up, you press Shift+Minus. Anyway, I'll press Shift+Plus to advance to Multiply. This is not only a much better mode than Darken, but also the most practical of all the darken modes.
And what it does is it creates nice, organic, smooth transitions without any color enhancement. So it's strictly a luminance adjustment. And notice what happens here is the darkest colors in the gradient provide the most darkness, while the lighter colors darken less. And then finally, white doesn't darken at all; white just goes invisible. But the result is that we have an absolutely smooth transition from black to parchment. Now, if that's too much darkening, you can back off the Opacity value.
For example, I could press the 7 key to reduce the Opacity to 70%. I'll go ahead and press 0 to reset the Opacity to 100. If that's not enough darkening, then you can advance to one of the two next modes; either Color Burn, or Linear Burn. I'll go ahead and press Shift+Plus in order to advance to Color Burn, and you can see, not only do we get a higher contrast effect, but we also get enhanced saturation. So Color Burn tends to increase the saturation dramatically. It also results in a lot of noise inside of your image, just so you know.
If you want less saturation, as well as less noise, but you still want all of the contrast, then you advance to the next blend mode, which is Linear Burn. And that is, in my opinion, the second to best darken mode inside Photoshop. Let me go ahead and compare Multiply to Linear Burn by doing the following. As I was telling you in a previous movie, you can get to a blend mode by pressing the Shift+Alt key, or Shift+Option on the Mac, along with a letter. In the case of Multiply, you press Shift+Alt+M, or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. That's Multiply.
Then to switch back to Linear Burn, I will just go ahead and press Control+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. So you can see, higher contrast effect, a little bit of saturation enhancement as well, and a very powerful effect indeed. Now if I press Shift+Plus, we'll advance to the final darken mode, which is Darker Color, which just goes ahead and keeps the darkest pixel on a composite basis. So we're seeing these very jagged transitions between the darker colors in the parchment layer, and the darker colors on the gradient layer. I will go so far as to say I have never found a use for this blend mode, and it is really, honestly the least of the darken modes.
All right, I'm going to press Shift+Alt+N, or Shift+Option+N on the Mac, to reset the gradient layer to Normal mode, and I'll go ahead and turn it off here. I want you to also see what happens with the brushstroke. So I'll go ahead and select the brushstroke layer, as well as turn it on. I'm going to go ahead and skip Darken, and Darker Colo,r and I'll press Shift+Alt+M, or Shift+Option+M on the Mac, to switch to the Multiply mode. And you can see, just like that, we've turned this blue brushstroke into a magic marker effect. If you want a more colorful effect, you can press Shift+Plus to advance to Color Burn, but in this specific case, we're dropping out a lot of the darkness, and we're creating some jagged transitions, as well as some noise.
If you want a genuinely darker effect than Multiply, you press Shift+Plus again to advance to Linear Burn. Again, for the sake of demonstration, I'll press Shift+Alt+M, or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. That's the Multiply mode. If I press Control+Z, that's the Linear Burn mode. All right; I'm going to go ahead and turn that layer off. I was telling you, I never use a Darker Color mode, and I only occasionally use Darken. I'll go ahead and click on the wrestlers layer, and turn it on. Just by way of example, here is an interesting use for Darken.
I'll take that wrestlers layer, and I'll go up to Layers panel flyout menu, and I'll choose Convert to Smart Object, or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Control+Comma, or Command+Comma on the Mac. And then I'll go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. And I'll go ahead and set the Radius value to 4 pixels, and then click OK. Now, that ends up uniformly blurring the image. If you want to turn this blur into a kind of edge effect, what you can do is go down here to the Smart Filters. I'm going to right-click on that filter mask, and delete it, just so I have a little more room in my Layers panel And then I'll double-click on the slider icon to the right of the words Gaussian Blur, and I could go ahead and change the blend mode to Multiply -- which, I'm telling you, is your when in doubt darken mode inside Photoshop -- but that's going to uniformly darken the image.
So it's going to use the blurry version of the image to darken the sharp version, and we're going to end up losing a lot of detail. However, if I set the blend mode to Darken instead, you can see that we're getting a kind of dark edge effect. That's most obvious here inside of the hands. So we get some abrupt transitions here and there, but it can be interesting at times. All right, I'll go ahead and click OK to accept the effect. I don't want the blur; I just wanted to show you that. So I'm going to turn the Gaussian Blur effect off. And what I want to do, when everything is said and done, is I want to blend the wrestlers into the background parchment.
So there is the parchment in the background. There is the wrestler layer. It's selected and waiting for me, so I'll go ahead and choose the Multiply mode in order to darken one layer into the other. If you want an analogy for how this works, imagine that we have the wrestlers printed on one transparency, and we have the parchment printed on another transparency. We lay them on top of each other on a light table, and this is the effect we'd get. If that's not enough -- which it isn't in my case, I want a more powerful effect -- then in most cases you're going to want to skip Color Burn, and in this case, it's certainly nothing I want.
Instead, you'll go all the way to Linear Burn in order to create this very dramatic effect here. And that's how you work with the five darken modes; in particular, Multiply, and if that doesn't work, try Linear Burn, here inside Photoshop.
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.
Your file was successfully uploaded.