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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the fun things you can do to an image to kind of make it visually interesting is do a textured overlay. So this video is going to walk you through a couple of different techniques to do that. The cool thing is that you can pretty much use anything as a texture. It can be another image. It can be a pattern. You can go take snapshots of other things that you can use as patterns. You can take a picture of a tiled floor. You can take a picture of concrete, or in this example, take a picture big rusted out metal tin can or something. Anything can be used as a texture. So we are going to start by using this texture in this Rust Texture folder here that I've got already in this image, and we want to be able to see this texture overlaid through and see the image underneath it.
So to begin, the best use of a texture is to have a desaturated, just a grayscale image, you can still do it with colors, but you are going to get a lot of color shifting if you leave it as a color image. So I'm not sure that I want to actually just get rid of all the colors, so let's use an adjustment layer to do that. I'm going to go to the Adjustment panel, and I'm just going to go ahead and float the Adjustment panel out temporarily, so we can still see our Layer panel here side by side. So let's desaturate this Textured layer by using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and just taking the Saturation slider all the way to the left, you can see which has sucked all the color out, nondestructive though. The layer just can be turned no and off, and then we want to introduce some contrast, right.
We want some bright spots and some dark spots and some even gray. This image here turns to be all kind of in the middle gray area. So we'll go click the Back button on the Adjustments panel, and we'll add a Levels adjustment layer, and we'll just increase the contrast of this image that we are going to use as our texture. And since these are all adjustment layers, we can go back and fine tune this at any point, if when we blend this back down to our document or image layer, the contrast isn't quite right. Okay, I'm just going to collapse the Adjustment panel down, move it out of the way. way.
Just click on this light gray area here next to be tab, and we can just move this up. So it isn't covering part of our image for now. Great, so now we would need to make this grayscale image kind of blend back into the background image, this image layer. So to do that I'm going to click on the group. This group is a folder of layers inside it, and you will see by default the group has a blend mode as well. It has a blend mode called Pass Through, which means allow whatever blending is going on in these layers to pass through outside the group, and blend down through the composite stack.
Now since, none of these layers have any blend modes applied to them, you are not seeing any change. I'm going to go ahead and click on the group here and select it, and make sure that the blend mode for the group is set to Overlay, right. Overlay ignores the 50% gray, makes light stuff lighter, dark stuff darker. In this case, it's using the texture as its blend between the image and this Texture pattern here. So you kind of get this cool overlaid effect. Now this is too much of the original detail here. You can try a different blend mode.
Remember in the Contrast group there is quite a few different options here. Soft Light is just a lower contrast version of Overlay. So if I choose Soft Light, I get a slightly better effect, because it's not so harsh. So kind of cool. Let's repeat this with the Sludge Texture, so I'm just going to turn off the Rust Texture group by turning off its eye. We are back to where we started. Let's select the Texture layer here and turn it on so you can see it, and this is just a picture of some sludge, some icky goo, but it's going to make for a nice texture.
So we'll click on the Texture layer here in the Sludge Texture group or folder. Again, let's go back to our Adjustments panel and first desaturate this Texture layer by using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and taking the Saturation slider all the way down to the left. We'll click the Back button, and choose the Levels adjustment layer again, to again shift the contrast, make things a little bit darker, a little bit lighter. Change the mid tone a little bit, it's up to you, and then we'll collapse the Adjustment panel back down by clicking the gray area. And again, we'll click on the Sludge Texture group, the folder here and change the blend mode from Pass Through to Soft Light. You can see just a different effect using same technique, but just a different image. So there is before and there is after. If you want to compare the Sludge with the Rust, we can turn off the Sludge, turn on the Rust.
Now if you find a pattern that you might want to use over and over and over again, you don't have to depend on having this image laying around anymore. You can actually define a custom pattern in Photoshop, and then use something called a Pattern adjustment layer. So what we are going to do is we are going to turn off the effect here. We are going to change the Background layer to hide it. I'm going to just turn off its layer visibility. We'll select this Rust Texture layer, and do a select all, Command+A or Ctrl+A, and under the Edit menu you have a Define Pattern command.
Now what this is going to do is permanently save this in your Presets folder as a custom pattern, which you will then be able to use in any other image if you want to use this pattern as an overlay. So I'll go ahead and choose Define Pattern. It will ask us to name it. I'm going to call it Rust and we are going to go and click OK. I will deselect, Command+D, Ctrl+D. We'll turn off the Rust Texture group. Turn on the Background again, and I'm going to go ahead and collapse these down. Those were just for demo purposes. Let's go back down to the bottom of the Layers panel, and from the Adjustment Layer menu, we'll choose Patterns.
Towards the top, there is Solid Color Gradient and pattern, and from pattern it remembers the last pattern you have used, in this case it's that Texture pattern that we have saved, right, there is the custom one that we saved. And let's go ahead and click OK. Now it's just a simple one layer adjustment layer here that we just need to change its blend mode to Soft Light or Overlay. I'll go with Soft Light again, and I get the same effect. So that's something I can now reuse in other documents. So there you have it some easy ways to create some nice texture overlays, use anything, use an image, use a photograph, just use your iPhone, take a picture of anything, a lot of contrast helps, a lot of texture, you know, like concrete or pavement or wood, wood pattern style floors, anything that gives you a nice even keel texture that you can apply to your images. Typically you use this as a background, but you might want to use this for special effects and what not.
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