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Understanding blend modes

From: Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2

Video: Understanding blend modes

>> Male Speaker: Welcome to an introductory movie to blend modes. Blend modes are often an overlooked feature in Photoshop. And it's too bad they're overlooked, because there's some powerful and profound things that you can do with blend modes. Let's take a look at what the blend modes are. For starters we have these groups of blend modes. You can find these in different locations. So we have a drop-down menu in our Layers palette you'll also notice that if we were to pull up in the Options bar for the brush we have different blend modes. And we'll see these in a number of different locations.

Understanding blend modes

>> Male Speaker: Welcome to an introductory movie to blend modes. Blend modes are often an overlooked feature in Photoshop. And it's too bad they're overlooked, because there's some powerful and profound things that you can do with blend modes. Let's take a look at what the blend modes are. For starters we have these groups of blend modes. You can find these in different locations. So we have a drop-down menu in our Layers palette you'll also notice that if we were to pull up in the Options bar for the brush we have different blend modes. And we'll see these in a number of different locations.

And the location we'll use the most often is in the Layers. Let's deconstruct how these work a little bit. For starters, let's look at these in groups. They are actually put into groups, and understanding how the groups of blend modes work will really help us deconstruct these and begin to use them. Okay, up top we have Normal and Dissolve. I never really found a good use for Dissolve but, Normal is just the normal blend mode of the image. The next group, those blend modes have to do with darkening the image. And you remember that by looking at the first name of the group, Darken.

The group underneath that has to do with lightening; the next group has to do with contrast. And then finally there's a group of Difference and Exclusion. Those are usually used for special effects or aligning items, and aren't used very often. I will show you that briefly, but again those aren't used very often. And then finally, that bottom group has to do with color. So I have some information here. Again, Normal and Dissolve it leaves the color unchanged, no interaction with the layers below, at least for Normal. Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, and Linear darkens the underlying layer.

Now there are different times when you want to darken the layer. Or Color Burn could actually increase intensity of (unclear) or intensity of colors. The next group: Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge, lightens the underlying layer. Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, and Pin Light adds contrast to the underlying area by making some areas lighter or darker. Difference and Exclusion compares the active layer with underlying layers. And then Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity changes aspects of color on the active layer that affect the underlying layers.

So pretty interesting stuff. Alright well let's take a look at how this works. We have a grayscale here and I'm going to scroll through the different blend modes. I'll go down to Darken. What you see is how Darken worked, it simply affected the darker side of the pixels. Multiply, very similar. Just the dark side of the color range is affected. There's nothing being affected over here. If I look at my before and after, there's actually no effect this side of the grayscale. Color Burn, we'll see something very similar.

Linear Burn. Let's go to the lightening side. Now it's on the other side. So Screen is the opposite of multiply. And the way that you can think of Screen, it actually works as if you have two slide projectors and you're projecting the image onto the same screen. It's double the light intensity, so you can see that there with the image. All right, back to our blend mode here, Color Dodge, we're seeing very similar things. Opposite, these two groups work in opposites. Overlay, what happens here? Let's look at our before and after.

It increased the lightness values and the dark values, didn't touch the midtones. So it increases contrast. Soft Light is just a lesser, more humane version of overlay. And again we have more contrast blend modes. Jumping down to Difference and Exclusion. Let's take a look and see how that works when we have a copy of an image. I'm going to take this to Difference. And one of the nice things about Difference is if I offset the image, which I'm doing by clicking and dragging, I can see that the image isn't aligned up.

So remember I said that this is pretty much used for aligning, and now that it's exactly on, I don't see any of those lines on there with Difference. Exclusion works in similar ways, although it's a little bit harder to see. And the only other occasion that I found for using those blend modes is for special affects. We'll look at the Color blend mode with a different sample file. Okay let's look at this in another view with these different strips. So our grayscale is now broken up into percentages. I'll go to Darken, and you'll notice that what happens is just the dark tones, the shadow details up into the midtones are affected, nothing happens over here in highlights.

Jump down to Lighten. It's going to be the opposite, right? Then I go down to Overlay. Notice that in Overlay the highlights are affected, the shadows are affected. Nothing happens there at 50 percent gray. We can use that to our advantage. Go down below that to Soft Light; that's just a more humane version of contrast enhancement there. Highlights are brought out, shadows are deepened, nothing happens to middle gray. All right, I'm going to turn on yet another layer. Here I have a layer with some different colors and we're going to look at the Color blend modes.

One of the problems with digital images is noise. We find noise in our shadows, we find noise when we shoot high ISOs, and people are starting to become really particular about noise. And actually CS2 has some great noise reduction features, which we'll look at in another chapter. But for now let's say that this is noise. This is exaggerated noise and it looks like confetti, there's so much of it. If we go to our blend mode of Color, what were going to see is that we still get the detail in the background. The color is interacting with the layer underneath it in a way that we still get details.

So when we need to change color, it's a really good idea to use that Color blend mode. Another blend mode that's really helpful is Luminosity. When we take it to the Luminosity blend mode what we noticed is that we don't see the color anymore, we just see the luminance values or the brightness values of the color. So if we had a layer that we were sharpening, and when you sharpen an image you actually exaggerate noise, and we took that layer to a blend mode of Luminosity, it would really help our sharpening, because our sharpening wouldn't exaggerate noise it would just sharpen the tone.

So that Luminosity blend mode can be really helpful. All right, more on blend modes. Up in this folder, burning and dodging, I want to talk about that. Here I have a layer and we'll actually go through this again in a movie down the road, but just so we can get a handle on how our blend modes work, let's take a look now. I have this layer that has middle gray and then it has black in the corners. Remember middle gray, which is this color here, on a blend mode of Soft Light, doesn't show up.

So as we can see nothing happening to the middle of the image. It gives me the ability to burn in my corners. If I want more intense burning I'm going to press Command+J to intensify that. I'm going to undo that. I can also lower the Opacity so that I can just bring those corners down, again so that the viewer's eyes don't travel off the edge of the image, but really stays on that image. All right, well this wraps up our first look at blend modes. Those are pretty cool, aren't they? It's amazing when you deconstruct them, and you really start to think about them, they're not that complex.

Darkening, lightening, contrast; these are best for alignment or special effects; and then finally color. I'll see you in the next movie.

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This video is part of

Image for Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2
Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2

209 video lessons · 19574 viewers

Chris Orwig

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 32m 43s
    1. Welcome
    2. Opening words
      1m 56s
    3. General tips 1
      2m 5s
    4. General tips 2
      4m 47s
    5. General tips 3
      3m 6s
    6. The interface
      3m 27s
    7. Custom menus and shortcuts
      3m 3s
    8. Photoshop preferences 1
      6m 24s
    9. Photoshop preferences 2
      4m 35s
    10. Color settings
      2m 51s
  2. 24m 36s
    1. Bit depth 101
      6m 43s
    2. Intro to image size
      2m 37s
    3. Image size 1 - resize
      6m 10s
    4. Image size 2 - crop
      5m 5s
    5. Image size 3 - scans
      4m 1s
  3. 16m 59s
    1. Intro to color management
      2m 53s
    2. Hardware considerations
      6m 19s
    3. Monitor calibration
      4m 15s
    4. Color settings
      3m 32s
  4. 48m 58s
    1. Bridge 101
      3m 26s
    2. Bridge preferences 1
      4m 2s
    3. Bridge preferences 2
      3m 41s
    4. Bridge preferences 3
      3m 53s
    5. Using the Bridge 1
      3m 12s
    6. Using the Bridge 2
      2m 30s
    7. Using the Bridge 3
      1m 52s
    8. Using the Bridge 4
      5m 35s
    9. Using the Bridge 5
      4m 6s
    10. Bridge slideshow
      5m 49s
    11. Metadata and collections
      3m 50s
    12. Metadata template
      2m 33s
    13. Batch processing with Image Processor
      4m 29s
  5. 1h 14m
    1. Creative tip: Gear
      3m 8s
    2. Camera RAW 101
      6m 8s
    3. Camera RAW preferences
      3m 21s
    4. Camera RAW workflow 1
      2m 24s
    5. Camera RAW workflow 2
      2m 21s
    6. Camera RAW workflow 3
      4m 44s
    7. Camera RAW workflow 4
      4m 43s
    8. Camera RAW workflow 5
      5m 18s
    9. Camera RAW workflow 6
      6m 31s
    10. Camera RAW workflow 7
      5m 44s
    11. RAW resizing
      2m 51s
    12. DNG overview
      5m 2s
    13. DNG conversion
      2m 55s
    14. Black and white 1
      6m 6s
    15. Black and white 2
      5m 3s
    16. Creative color 1
      3m 48s
    17. Creative color 2
      4m 38s
  6. 28m 5s
    1. Overview
      6m 56s
    2. Linking and groups
      3m 28s
    3. Alignment
      2m 1s
    4. Layer order and Clipping Masks
      5m 37s
    5. Layer style effects
      6m 22s
    6. History
      3m 41s
  7. 35m 29s
    1. Intro to masking
      4m 57s
    2. Using masking
      4m 56s
    3. Masking and color
      5m 47s
    4. Modifying color/tone
      5m 5s
    5. Quick mask and more
      6m 4s
    6. Custom borders 1
      3m 5s
    7. Custom borders 2
      5m 35s
  8. 24m 29s
    1. Creative tip: Kitchen
      2m 45s
    2. Replacing color
      2m 52s
    3. Magic Wand
      4m 21s
    4. More on color
      4m 8s
    5. Intro to paths
      3m 31s
    6. Creating and using paths
      6m 52s
  9. 11m 36s
    1. Understanding levels
      2m 51s
    2. Enhancing with levels 1
      4m 8s
    3. Enhancing with levels 2
      4m 37s
  10. 24m 34s
    1. Demystifying curves
      3m 47s
    2. Getting to know curves
      7m 40s
    3. Enhancing color and tone 1
      4m 53s
    4. Enhancing color and tone 2
      4m 57s
    5. Curves and actions
      3m 17s
  11. 23m 12s
    1. Creative tip: Dead Sea
      5m 9s
    2. Understanding blend modes
      7m 28s
    3. Using blend modes 2
      3m 33s
    4. Using blend modes 1
      3m 0s
    5. Using blend modes 3
      4m 2s
  12. 37m 32s
    1. Removing redeye
      1m 22s
    2. Fixing color with levels/curves 1
      4m 58s
    3. Fixing color with levels/curves 2
      3m 57s
    4. Color correction with a color chart
      3m 8s
    5. Skin by the numbers 1
      4m 10s
    6. Skin by the numbers 2
      3m 1s
    7. Skin by the numbers 3
      4m 20s
    8. Skin by the numbers 4
      1m 35s
    9. Advanced color correction 1
      11m 1s
  13. 30m 32s
    1. Enhancing color 1
      3m 12s
    2. Enhancing color 2
      4m 18s
    3. Enhancing color 3
      5m 12s
    4. Cross-processing with curves 1
      3m 12s
    5. Cross-processing with curves 2
      2m 35s
    6. Advanced saturation with Lab
      3m 59s
    7. Non-destructive burning/dodging 1
      2m 39s
    8. Non-destructive burning/dodging 2
      2m 20s
    9. Non-destructive burning/dodging 3
      3m 5s
  14. 10m 49s
    1. Creative tip: Disney
      2m 40s
    2. Black and white conversion 1
      3m 0s
    3. Black and white conversion 2
      5m 9s
  15. 3h 25m
    1. The art of retouching
      2m 24s
    2. Nature 1
      3m 9s
    3. Nature 2
      4m 17s
    4. Nature 3
      4m 27s
    5. Nature 4
      4m 43s
    6. Restoration 1
      2m 27s
    7. Restoration 2
      2m 59s
    8. Restoration 3
      2m 12s
    9. Restoration 4
      4m 26s
    10. Restoration 5
      4m 31s
    11. People - cleaning up
      5m 6s
    12. People - removing distractions
      3m 56s
    13. Architecture - cleaning up and coloring
      4m 14s
    14. People - skin and flyaways
      5m 5s
    15. People - reducing wrinkles 1
      3m 36s
    16. People - reducing wrinkles 2
      4m 53s
    17. People - whitening teeth 1
      5m 3s
    18. People - whitening teeth 2
      3m 31s
    19. People - enhancing eyes 1
      3m 28s
    20. People - enhancing eyes 2
      3m 2s
    21. People - enhancing eyes 3
      4m 4s
    22. People - enhancing eyes, skin and lips
      6m 46s
    23. People - working with highlights
      3m 42s
    24. People - enhancing eyes and eyelashes
      9m 36s
    25. People - working with light
      4m 7s
    26. People - enhancing eyebrows and lips
      7m 53s
    27. People - enhancing eyes, tone and color
      8m 33s
    28. Fashion retouching 1
      4m 41s
    29. Fashion retouching 2
      2m 41s
    30. Fashion retouching 3
      10m 1s
    31. People - enhancing skin 1
      9m 59s
    32. People - enhancing skin 2
      6m 19s
    33. Fashion retouching workflow 1
      8m 59s
    34. Fashion retouching workflow 2
      4m 26s
    35. Fashion retouching workflow 3
      3m 6s
    36. Fashion retouching workflow 4
      4m 9s
    37. Fashion retouching workflow 5
      3m 10s
    38. Fashion retouching workflow 6
      1m 43s
    39. Fashion retouching workflow 7
      2m 12s
    40. Fashion retouching workflow 8
      7m 11s
    41. Fashion retouching workflow 9
      4m 47s
    42. Fashion retouching workflow 10
      4m 6s
    43. Fashion retouching workflow 11
      3m 41s
    44. Retouching tips
      1m 56s
  16. 28m 54s
    1. Understanding shadow/highlights
      1m 51s
    2. Using shadow/highlights 1
      3m 8s
    3. Using shadow/highlights 2
      5m 5s
    4. Multiple exposures in the wild
      7m 26s
    5. Multiple exposures in architecture 1
      1m 22s
    6. Multiple exposures in architecture 2
      2m 56s
    7. Multiple exposures in architecture 3
      4m 10s
    8. Multiple exposures in architecture 4
      2m 56s
  17. 10m 38s
    1. Creative tip: Inspiration
      4m 54s
    2. Lens Correction filter - architecture
      4m 21s
    3. Lens Correction filter - people
      1m 23s
  18. 12m 50s
    1. Dust removal 1
      5m 11s
    2. Dust removal 2
      3m 35s
    3. Dust removal 3
      4m 4s
  19. 10m 31s
    1. Noise Reduction filter
      5m 3s
    2. Surface Blur and Noise Reduction filters
      5m 28s
  20. 12m 6s
    1. Creative tip: Creative People
      1m 22s
    2. Deconstructing the Lens Blur
      6m 46s
    3. The Lens Blur in action
      3m 58s
  21. 1h 23m
    1. Warming filter
      2m 34s
    2. Coloring with curves
      2m 10s
    3. Coloring with curves, color balance and hue/saturation
      2m 6s
    4. Edgy color and tone 1
      4m 48s
    5. Edgy color and tone 2
      6m 19s
    6. Creative toning
      5m 18s
    7. Camera RAW color creativity 1
      3m 30s
    8. Camera RAW color creativity 2
      3m 48s
    9. Deconstructing the creative process
      7m 58s
    10. Illumination 1
      1m 59s
    11. Illumination 2
      2m 5s
    12. Illumination 3
      2m 35s
    13. Illumination 4
      3m 47s
    14. Fun with Motion Blur
      2m 35s
    15. Motion Blur - spinning and zooming
      4m 38s
    16. Motion Blur and masking
      4m 44s
    17. Creative perspective 1 - Annika
      4m 59s
    18. Creative perspective 2 - Baja beach
      4m 9s
    19. Creative perspective 3 - Baja boats
      4m 41s
    20. Creative style with Nik Color Effects 1
      4m 23s
    21. Creative style with Nik Color Effects 2
      3m 57s
  22. 29m 20s
    1. Understanding Unsharp Mask
      3m 4s
    2. Sharpening with Unsharp Mask
      3m 56s
    3. High pass sharpening
      3m 29s
    4. New - Smart Sharpen
      4m 35s
    5. Smart Sharpen in action
      5m 35s
    6. Smart Sharpen in action 2
      2m 29s
    7. Nik Sharpener Pro
      6m 12s
  23. 15m 40s
    1. Creative tip: Reading
      3m 30s
    2. Creating a panorama 1
      2m 28s
    3. Creating a panorama 2 - Alaska
      5m 11s
    4. Creating a panorama 3 - Alaska 2
      4m 31s
  24. 28m 7s
    1. Saving Web images 1
      5m 29s
    2. Saving Web images 2
      1m 30s
    3. Creating a PDF
      3m 33s
    4. Creating a Picture Package
      1m 55s
    5. Creating a Web gallery
      2m 43s
    6. Creating promo cards 1
      4m 17s
    7. Creating promo cards 2
      7m 7s
    8. Creating promo cards 3
      1m 33s
  25. 11m 56s
    1. Photoshop tools - ordering prints
      2m 55s
    2. Printing resources
      2m 44s
    3. Printing
      6m 17s
  26. 1m 14s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 14s

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