Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting to know the blend modes, part of Photoshop CC 2017 Essential Training: The Basics.
- [Narrator] Blend modes allow you to control how the pixels or the content of one layer affects or blends with the content on another layer. In this video we're going to focus on the blend modes in the Layers panel, but in fact blend modes aren't limited to the Layers panel, you can also find them when you use the painting tools, or you apply layer styles; you choose the Fill, Stroke, or Fade command. You can even use them with Apply Image in the Calculation commands. So let's take a look and see how they work. In this document I have two layers: the watch layer and the beach layer.
I'm going to hide the beach layer for a moment just to point out that the white on the watch layer is indeed white, it is not transparent, and that'll be important in just a moment. Normal is the default blend mode, and in Normal, there is no blending of multiple layers, so the watch layer is not being blended by the beach layer. I could change the opacity, but technically that's not really blending. When I choose the Dissolve blend mode, it looks like nothing's happening, but when I change the opacity in this blend mode, Photoshop either selects a pixel from the beach layer or the watch layer, and randomly displays one of those two pixels.
So it's not really blending the two layers together, it's showing either pixels from the beach layer or from the watch layer. I'll set the opacity back up to 100%, and let's take a look at the next group of blend modes. The next group of blend modes will always result in a darker color. The two most common are Darken and Multiply. When I select Darken, Photoshop is looking at the pixels in the watch layer and the pixels in the beach layer, and it's going to select the darker pixels and display them.
When I change this to Multiply mode, Photoshop is taking all of the pixels in the two layers, and it's multiplying them together so that I'll always get a darker image. The blend modes in this group, have what are called a neutral color of white, which means that white has no effect, and indeed we can see the white outline around the watch file has disappeared in the Multiply as well as the Darken blend mode. If you've ever worked with slide film in the past, Multiply is a bit like sandwiching two chromes or two slides together and projecting them.
Alright the next group of blend modes will always result in the lighter image. They're basically an inverse of the previous group of blend modes, and Lighten and Screen are the two most commonly used from this group. When we select Lighten, we can see that it's choosing the lighter of the two layers. So we can see all of the white from the watch layer, and the lighter values throughout the image. When I choose the Screen blend mode, it's an even more intense effect, because it's multiplying the inverse of the two colors.
Again, it's always going to result in a lighter color, and the effect here is similar to projecting multiple photographs onto the same screen. So not sandwiching the photographs and projecting them, but actually projecting two different images onto the same screen, and those two images get lighter. Alright the next group of blend modes are all going to add contrast to our image, because they lighten when they find colors that are brighter than 50% gray, and they darken when they use colors that are darker than 50% gray.
And Overlay and Soft Light are the two most commonly used blend modes in this group. So with Overlay, the blend mode is multiplying the colors darker than 50%, and it screens the color that are lighter than 50%. So it has the potential to add a significant amount of contrast to the resulting image. If I change this to Soft Light, we're not going to get as much contrast, but the darker areas are still darkened, and the lighter areas are still lightened.
But it's really only as if they were kind of mildly dodged and burned. If the images contain any gray values, at 50% gray, that is the neutral color for these blend modes, and it will disappear. The next group of blend modes, Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide, have some interesting uses in the scientific world, and they're just interesting sometimes in creative ways. But they're not used as often as the other blend modes. In the last group, the two most popular blend modes are Color and Luminosity.
When I choose Color, we no longer see any of the luminosity from the watch layer. Instead we just see the color. If I switch this to Luminosity, now we only see the gray scale values from the watch, and it's picking up the color from the layer or the layers below it. This blend mode can be very useful when making adjustments to images where you want to restrict the adjustment to only affect the luminosity or the gray scale values, and not the color.
The Color blend mode is very useful when applying paint over a gray scale image, to achieve maybe like a hand-painted effect, because you only get the color from that layer, and you can still see all of the luminosity or all of the gray scale values in the layers below. If you want to quickly cycle through the different blend modes, as long as you have the Move tool selected or another tool that doesn't have blend mode options in the options bar, you can hold down the Shift key and tap the plus in order to cycle through the different blend modes.
Holding down the Shift key and tapping the minus key will go in the opposite direction.
Julieanne Kost reviews the basics of digital imaging, from bit depth to image size, and shows how to use different Photoshop tools to crop and retouch photos, while always maintaining the highest-quality output. She shows the most efficient ways to perform common tasks, including working with layers, making selections, and masking. Along the way, you will learn the secrets of nondestructive editing using Smart Objects, and master features such as adjustment layers, blend modes, filters, and much more—increasing your productivity every step of the way.
- Opening files in Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom
- Arranging your workspace
- Modifying keyboard shortcuts
- Changing color mode, bit depth, and document size
- Cropping and straightening images
- Working with layers and layer masks
- Using brushes
- Making detailed selections
- Editing images with the Content-Aware tools
- Using blend modes
- Creating Smart Objects
- Using adjustment layers to change color, tone, contrast, and saturation
- Applying filters