Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this movie, I'll demonstrate the third group of blend modes. These are the lighten modes, shown in red inside this slide, and every one of them uses the active layer to brighten the contents of the layers below, which is why these are also known as the glow modes. Every single color on the active layer, even very dark colors, ends up darkening the colors in the background, with the exception of one color: black. If the active layer contains black pixels, those pixels become transparent. Also worth noting is that there is a symmetry associated with the lighten modes, vis-à-vis the darken modes.
So in other words, every single one of the lighten modes is an opposite of the darken mode, and in the same order. So Lighten is the opposite of Darken, Screen is the wonderful opposite of Multiply, Color Dodge and Linear Dodge are the opposites of Color Burn and Linear Burn, and Lighter Color is just as worthless as Darker Color. So I'm going to switch to my composition in progress here, and I'm going to turn off the wrestlers layer, scroll down to the bottom, and turn on this invert adjustment layer, which turns our bright parchment dark, and also inverts the color scheme from a palette of oranges to one of blues.
Now I'll click on the gradient layer, and turn it on as well. So again, we have a radial gradient; white in the center, black on the outside. If I switch the blend mode for this layer to Lighten, then I will keep just the brightest pixels on a channel by channel basis. So if we switch over to the Channels panel, you'll see that the inverted parchment is very dark in that Red channel, and as a result, the gradient pixels tend to win. If we switch to the Green channel, we see the parchment brightening up, and as a result, we're getting more pixels from the parchment encroaching on the gradient.
Then finally, the inverted parchment is brightest in the Blue channel, and as a result, we're seeing a lot of pixels from the parchment layer, along with fewer pixels in the gradient layer. I'll go ahead and switch back to RGB, and return to the Layers panel. That's all fine, but once again, we end up with some pretty choppy transitions. If I want smoother transitions, I can press Shift+Plus in order to advance to the Screen mode, and that takes our white to black gradient, and turns it into a radial glow, with no remnants of darkening whatsoever.
Absolutely smooth, beautiful effect! Now, if that's too timid for you, you can press Shift+Plus to advance to Color Dodge, but as you can see, you're going to get some hyper-saturated colors, some very radical luminance transitions, and you're going to get a lot of noise as well, which is why the better way to brighten is to switch to the next mode: Linear Dodge (Add). And it's so called, by the way, we're seeing Add in parentheses, because the mode really does add the luminance levels of the active layer to those of the composite version of the image below, which is why we end up blowing a lot of highlights in this case.
And I should mention, Linear Burn does the same thing, only opposite, so you could potentially end up with a lot of clipped shadows. And just to give you a sense of the difference between Screen and Linear Dodge, I'll go ahead and press the Escape key, so the blend mode pop-up menu here on the PC is no longer active, and I'll press the keyboard shortcut for the Screen mode, which is Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S on the Mac. So here's Screen; very smooth effect. It doesn't enhance the saturation levels at all, strictly affects the luminance levels, and if I press Control+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, here, by contrast, is Linear Dodge, which produces a higher contrast effect that potentially ends up clipping highlights.
Once again, something that the Screen mode cannot do; Screen never clips highlights, and Multiply never clips shadows. Then finally, if I press Shift+Plus to advance to the Lighter Color mode, we'll see that we're either keeping pixels from the active layer, or from the composite layers in the background on a pixel by pixel basis, and as a result, we unfailingly get jagged transitions. All right, I'm going to go ahead and turn that gradient layer off. Now let's see how these modes affect a brushstroke. I'll go ahead and click in the brushstroke layer, turn it on as well.
The brushstroke is set to Linear Burn. Let's go ahead and press Shift+Alt+N, or Shift+ Option+N on the Mac, to reset it to the Normal mode. I also want to invert it, so I'll just press Control+I, or Command+I on the Mac, and that turns that formerly bright blue brushstroke to a darker orange. Now, because really no sense in checking out Lighten, or Lighter Color, I'll press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S on the Mac, to switch to the Screen mode, and you can see that we get this kind of impossible highlighter effect, which is very cool. Then I'll press Shift+Plus to advance to Color Dodge.
Most of the effect drops away. We get some pretty ratty transitions. And then I'll press Shift+Plus again to advance to Linear Dodge, which provides us with a higher impact effect. All right, I'm going to turn off brushstroke, and I'm going to scroll down to the stars layer, and turn it on. And you can see that this layer is already a Smart Object. I want to show you that same Gaussian Blur trick that I showed you in a previous movie, except this time combined with Lighten. So because Gaussian Blur was the last filter I applied, it appears at the top of the Filter menu. If I choose the command, because I'm working on a Smart Object, that brings up the Gaussian Blur dialog box. A Radius of 4 is just fine. Click OK in order to apply the filter, and then double-click on the slider triangle to the right of the words Gaussian Blur, and I'm going to change the mode this time to a brightening mode.
I could start with Screen, because it is your when in doubt mode, but that's going to give us a very hot effect, because we're taking the entirety of the blurred image, and screening it on top of the original. However, if we choose Lighten instead, we're going to keep just these little glows; notice that. I'll go ahead and zoom in here inside of the dialog box. We have these glows around the outside of our synthetic stars, which I think is quite a nice effect actually. So I'll click OK in order to accept that modification, and now I want to blend the stars into the background dark blue parchment.
So I'll start by pressing Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+ Option+S on the Mac, to assign the Screen mode to the stars layer. And that's the way you work, by the way, with lighten modes; you always start with Screen, see how it works out, and then my advice is, if Screen doesn't deliver a sufficiently high impact effect, go ahead and switch to Linear Dodge (Add). What that's done in the case of this image is create this kind of hole in the center of the paper that's so bright, the star is so very bright, that it's difficult to even look at, which is exactly the effect I want.
Now I'm going to turn the wrestlers layer back on, and click on that layer as well. You can see that, because they're set to Linear Burn, they now appear too dark. So I'm going to press the Escape key. Do you see what I'm talking about? There is a little blue highlight around the blend mode pop-up menu that prevents basically all of your keyboard shortcuts from working, because Windows is focused on the pop-up menu. And if this ever happens to you -- you try out a keyboard shortcut, and nothing happens -- just try tapping on the Escape key. Even on the Mac this kind of stuff can happen, and tapping the Escape key is oftentimes the solution.
Then I'll switch to the Multiply mode by pressing Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac. And I want to mention one more thing. I'm going to turn that wrestlers layer off for a moment, switch back to stars, and press Shift+Alt+S, or Shift+Option+S on the Mac. The reason the Multiply mode is called Multiply is because it actually multiplies the luminance levels of pixels. The reason Screen is called Screen is because of the analogy for how it works. It's just like taking the stars, for example, and the dark blue parchment, putting them on, say, 35mm slides, putting those slides in separate projectors, and shining them both at the same screen.
And that's why you end up getting this brightening effect. Anyway, I'll go ahead and turn the wrestlers layer back on. And I actually think I like this combination of Screen and Multiply better here. A great thing about blend modes, of course, is that they're entirely nondestructive, and you can change your mind anytime you like. That's how you work with the lighten modes. Remember to start with Screen, and if that doesn't give you the effect you're looking for, try out Linear Dodge here inside Photoshop.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 42991 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 54308 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 14547 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 82912 Viewers
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.