Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Cycling between blend modes, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.
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In this exercise I'm going to show you the difference between the Normal and Dissolve modes just so that we can get that out of the way and then I will also show you how to cycle between Blend modes from the keyboard. I'm working inside an image called Paper pushers.psd found inside the 28_blending folder. There is actually two pieces to this composition here. One of the images, the one on the wrestlers layer comes to us from Ron Chapple stock and then the underlying parchment image comes to us from Jumping Sack both of the Fotolia Image Library about which you can learn more fotolia.com/deke.
All right, so I've got the wrestlers layer selected. So it's my active layer, the one that I'm changing. And let's say you decide to reduce the Opacity value to 50% and I'm going to do that just by pressing the 5 key. So you may recall as long as any of the tools except this middle region of tools, except the painting and editing tools, as long as any other tool is selected, pressing a number key is going to change the Opacity of the active layer. So if I press the 5 key, I get an Opacity of 50%.
If I press the 4 key, I get 40%. If I press 67, 6, 7 in a row I get 67%. So the only percentage you can't get too from the keyboard without selecting the value is 0%. You can't get to 1% by dialing in 01, but if you hit 0, 0 you just going to get a 100%. So if you want 0% for whatever reason, you have the dial that in manually. Anyway, I'm going to set it to 50% once again and notice that we get a 50-50 blend of the wrestlers layer along with the parchment below.
So no big surprise there. Watch what happens when we switch from Normal to the next mode down, Dissolve. Why we get this effect here? And let me zoom in just so that I can make sure that you're seeing the results of this effect up close and personal. We'll go ahead and take a look at this dude and instead of seeing 50-50 blend, that is honest-to-goodness translucency, we're seeing pixels either turn on or off in a random dither pattern. So we're seeing 50% of the pixels opaque and the other 50% of the pixels transparent so that we can see the parchment below.
And if you want more opaque pixels, you would raise the value, for example, I could press the 7 key to raise that value to 70%. So now 70% of the pixels are opaque and 30% of the pixels are transparent. If I press 3 for 30%, I'd get the opposite. Now, I have 30% of the pixels opaque and 70% transparent. What good is it? None. That's the answer to that. I just want you to know how it works. It's an old school effect. It used to be kind of useful for creating shadows for GIF images, that kind of stuff anymore.
I recommend steering clear of it. I don't actually find it to be particularly useful one. Anyway, I'm just going to go ahead and raise the opacity value to 100% by pressing 0 key. The other thing you should know is that when you select any one of these blend modes here on the PC, this is just a PC thing, very irritating PC thing by the way, when you click on one of these modes it sticks. So, for example I'd just selected the Darken mode. I'll explain what's going on with the Darken mode in the next exercise, but for now just notice that the blend mode sticks here on the PC.
And what that means is that you can take advantage of a bunch of other keyboard shortcuts, basically the program will ignore you as long as this option is stuck. And so that means you can exploit the stickiness of the blend mode. again, just here on the PC, by pressing the Down Arrow key or the Right Arrow key to advance to the next blend mode or the Up Arrow key or the Left Arrow key to go to the previous Blend mode. Now, that's not necessarily a way that I relish working because there is a better keyboard shortcut than that. So what you do here, on the PC, is if you notice the Blend mode is stuck then you press the Escape key to un-stick it.
It keeps the Blend mode selected however, and if you're not sure what's going and the program is ignoring you, then just go ahead and press the Escape key and see if that helps. Another thing you can do both on the Mac and the PC is click inside the program just make sure it's active. So often I found Photoshop CS5 just bizarrely stops paying attention to you. And the way to get it's attention again it's just a click. All right, so another way to switch between Blend modes from the keyboard is to press Shift along with the plus or minus keys. So if you press Shift+plus you'll advance to the next Blend mode, in this case, Multiply.
Shift+plus again, I get to Color Burn, Shift+plus again I get to Linear Burn. If I want to a backup I press Shift+minus. So when I press Shift+minus now I get Color Burn, and then Multiply, and then Darken, and then Dissolve, and then finally Normal. Now, another keyboard shortcut you should bear in mind. Let's say that I've advanced a little bit here. I'll go ahead and advance to say Color Burn. If you ever want to reinstate Normal which you'll often times will, then assuming, once again, that any tool except this middle group of tools here; the painting and editing tools, if any other tool is selected then you can press this keyboard shortcut Shift+Alt+N, that would be Shift+Option+N on the Mac and that goes ahead and reinstates the Normal mode.
So that's a really good one to remember. Again, it's Shift+Alt+N or Shift+Option+N on the Mac. Now, one thing to bear in mind, a little bit of the caveat there when you're switching between Blend modes if you're fishing around just by pressing Shift+plus and Shift+minus for example, you're going to clutter up your history states. So I'm going to bring up the History panel for a moment just so that we can see. And notice here that I had changed the Opacity value a couple of times right at the onset of things and then after that I've just got a ton of stages that say Blending Change. What that means is if you're experimenting with a bunch of different Blend modes, it's easy to push away old states inside the History panel and there maybe states that you ultimately want to come back to.
So you just have to pay a little bit of attention. What I would suggest is before you go on a big Blend mode adventure, you either save your changes so you save the image or you come here to the History panel and you click a little camera in order to create a snapshot. In that way if you create that snapshot as I just did, then you can come back to it later after you get done goofing around. All right, so now you have a sense of how the Dissolve mode works and how to switch between Blend modes. In the next exercise we'll visit the Darken mode.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
- Using masks and blend modes in radically new ways
- Mastering the Pen tool and Paths panel
- Transforming and maximizing Smart Objects
- Employing Smart Filters to create complex effects
- Exploring the capabilities of Bristle brushes and the Mixer Brush
- Merging multiple images into seamless panoramas
- Exploring the full range of luminance with HDR Pro
- Recording actions and batching-processing images