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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'll take a look at the more robust lightning modes which include screen which is your Go To mode where lightning is concerned as well as the two Dodge modes, Color Dodge and Linear Dodge add. And I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on the image so that we can see it at the 100% view size. And I'll switch the Blend Mode from Normal to the first of the light modes, Lighten, and you can see that we end up keeping the lightest pixel on a channel-by-channel basis which ends up creating some fairly harsh transitions in a few spots.
So some of the pixels end up remaining entirely opaque, other pixels drop away entirely to transparency and then there's a variety of pixels that get along differently on a channel-by-channel basis. Compare that to what happens when we switch to the Screen Mode, which I'm going to do by pressing Shift+Plus, because Shift+Plus always advances to the next mode in the list. And notice that now we get a uniform brightening mode, we're not left with any harsh transitions. The only color that drops out entirely is the black of the background; otherwise even very dark colors brighten with white brightening absolutely.
Now because of the underlying math associated with screen, you don't end up getting any clipping. Nothing clips to white in other words, unless it was already clipped to white in one of the blended layers. And in our case what that means is we create this nice uniform ghosting effect. I'm going to zoom back out by pressing Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac, and for the moment I'm going to turn off that gang layer and click on the night layer down below. And notice if I turn that layer off there is another layer below it, this texture layer, and by the way, I should say, all these photographs come from the Fotolia Image Library.
All right, let's say we want to create an interaction between these two layers, I'm going to go ahead and click the night layer to turn it on and I'll switch to the Screen Mode, this time by using a shortcut, which is Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+S on the Mac, and you can see that we end up with this wonderful blend between these two very dark layers. None of the luminance levels entirely clip by the way, so the reason this moon is so bright is because it was already very bright in the first place, but we do have differences between the neighboring pixels. Well, let's compare that to what happens if I switch to one of the Dodge modes, and I'll do so by pressing Shift+Plus once again, which in this case takes me to the Color Dodge mode.
Notice now some of the luminance levels actually settle down, some of the intermediate colors for example. However, we do end up with some clipping inside of that moon, and it's very pronounced as well. So we have these hyper saturated colors with big huge transitions between neighboring pixels. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom out again, so we can take in the entire composition. It's an interesting effect; I have to say, I will also say however that I do not use Color Dodge on anything resembling a regular basis. Every once in a while I can prove to be somewhat interesting, and because it's a member of the Fill Opacity 8, I can press let's say Shift+8 in order to reduce that Fill Opacity to 80%, which results in this extremely subtle effect here.
All right, I'm going to boost that Fill Opacity back up by pressing Shift+0. Now the way I work is I'll start off with screen, see how that looks. If I'm not satisfied with that effect, if I feel like I need something more, then I'll switch to the Linear Dodge mode, which appears directly below Color Dodge. The reason it says (Add) in parenthesis that's actually a recent addition to the name of that mode, it happened a few versions back. And the idea is Photoshop is acknowledging the underlying math of the mode, which is a simple function of adding up the luminance levels, between the blended layers.
So when I choose (Add), we're going to end up with this more pronounced effect here. It's a somewhat subtle difference, although it's a big difference from Color Dodge, here's Color Dodge, just for the sake of comparison, and here's Linear Dodge once again. However, do note that we end up with these blown highlights inside of the moon and inside of some of the details of the clouds. If you want to settle those highlights back, which I do, then just remember that Linear Dodge like Color Dodge, and like the two Burn Modes is a member of the Fill Opacity 8.
So if I press Shift+8, in my case, to reduce the Fill Opacity value to 80%, I end up regaining the lost highlights across the board. Now I'm going to go ahead and turn on the gang layer, just so that we have an interaction between all the layers that we've modified so far. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to use Linear Dodge to specifically punch up white text.
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