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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.
Over the course of this and in the next exercise I am going to introduce you to all seven of the contrast modes. In this exercise, I'll start off with the primary three modes which happen to appear first in the list. Those are Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light, all of which are designed to mimic a combination of Multiply and Screen, working together. If you get a font warning when you open this image, don't worry about it, Photoshop will still allow you to see the text as it was originally rendered. Notice in the background here I have this photograph of this pile of leaves.
So that will serve as the backdrop for each one of our effects. Now if I switch over to my next layer comp, you can see for the sake of demonstrating the Darken and Lighten modes, I have set up two side-by-side gradients both of which appear on different layers you can see here, one is called left, one is called right. We've got a black to white gradient over here on the left-hand side and a black to white gradient over here in right hand side. I'll be applying the Darken mode to the left hand gradient and the Lighten mode to the right-hand gradient. Because white is always the neutral color for any of the darken modes, that white right in the center will drop away and because black is always a neutral color for any of the Lighten modes, this black edge in the center will drop away and as a result the two layers will appear to seamlessly merge together.
Meanwhile, where the contrast modes are concerned, I'll be applying them to this large gradient that stretches across the entire width of the image from black over here on the left-hand side to white over here on the right-hand side and where all the contrast modes are concerned, except for Hard Mix, it's the only exception, 50% gray is a neutral color right there dead center. So let's see what this looks like. In this slide, I have gone ahead and applied the Multiply mode to the left-hand gradient, so this left gradient, here in the Layers panel, you can see multiplies aside.
And then I've applied the Screen mode to the right layer which is the right-hand gradient and you can see the Screen mode applied as well. So as a result, we get a darkening effect over here on the left and we get a lightning effect over here on the right and the point at which the two layers meet up with each other, right there in the center, that's where the luminance levels entirely drop away. Compare that to the Overlay mode, what you'll hear people say about the Overlay mode is that it's that classic combination of Multiply and Screen. However, if you look at Multiply and Screen by comparison and then you look at the Overlay mode, they don't look very similar at all.
We do have a bit of darkening happening over here on the left-hand side and we have some lightning appearing over here on the right-hand side, but it's by no means as much as we were seeing with Multiply and Screen. Here is the thing. The basic blending formula associated with Overlay is absolutely equivalent in terms of the way it works to Multiply and Screen and yet the reason it looks so different is because Overlay favors the composite background, in our case, the leaves, over the active layer in our case the gradient and so as a result, it produces a muted effect by comparison to Multiply and Screen working together.
And yet, it is the foremost of the contrast modes, its super useful as you'll see in future exercises. Now if Overlay ends up being too much and you want something that's more subtle, then, you'll want to switch to the next mode which is Soft Light and notice that we have some darkening over here on the left-hand side and some brightening over here on the right-hand side, but not nearly as much as we saw a moment ago with Overlay. You can compare that to the original image. This is the base leaves image by itself. Notice that things brighten up over here on the left side; they darken up over here on the right-hand side because this full grad layer is now turned off.
Alright! Now by contrast, here is the Hard Light mode. So we are seeing an awful lot of darkness over here on the left side and an awful lot of the lightness over here on right-hand side. Now it uses exactly the same formula as Overlay. So it's really the exact same blending computation and yet, we end up getting a very different result and that's because Hard Light favors the active layer that is the gradient instead of the background leaves and as a result Overlay and Hard Light are said to be commuted versions of each other, just in case you ever hear that term.
Now just for comparison, here are the Multiply and Screen modes. So a lot of darkening happening over here on the left side, a lot of brightening happening over here on the right-hand side. Notice that the gradients drop away uniformly so very smooth effects, which is also true of the Hard Light mode which you can see now. So Hard Light if you were think of anything as being the equivalent of Multiply and Screen working together that would be Hard Light. If you prefer to turn the effect on his head and favor the background image, instead of the active layer then you would apply Overlay and if you're looking for something more subtle then go with Soft Light and that in a nutshell, we'll be seeing more of them.
But that's how the Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light modes work here in Photoshop.
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