Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video What are blend modes and how do they work?, part of Photoshop Blend Modes for Photography.
- In this introductory movie, I want to briefly talk about what blending modes are, where we can find them, and how they actually work. All right. Well, for starters, by way of a distillation, we can think of blending modes as something which gives us the ability to combine or merge multiple layers together in order to create a unique look or an effect or to apply a correction. Now, we can find these blending modes in a few different areas. For example, we can go to the Layers panel and click on a layer, and then we can click on the blending mode pull-down menu here. We'll also find blending modes for some of our tools, like the Brush tool, Clone Stamp, or Healing Brush, and in each of these situations, when we click on the blending mode pull-down menu, we'll get access to this dialog.
Now, when I first saw this dialog, I was overwhelmed. There were so many options and they didn't really make sense, but if you look a little bit closer, you'll start to notice these gray lines. These gray lines are indicating that certain blend modes are grouped together. And if we start to focus in on the different groupings, it can help us begin to understand how these blending modes actually work. Now, the grouping of blending modes, they work in similar ways. For example, the first group up here, what they allow us to do is to combine together, but also to do so in a way that create some sort of a darkening effect.
Now, each mode is different, yet it's just helpful to think about these as the modes which have to do with combination or merging or blending and also, darkening. The next group has to do with lightening. Then we have this other group, which really is about contrast. Then we have the Comparative group. This group's helpful when you're trying to align things or create unique looks in your photographs. And last but not least, we have some blending modes which are really helpful for color. So again, if you begin to think about these in different groups, it can help you start to look for the right blending mode for the effect that you want to create.
The top group here is Darken, then Lighten, then Contrast, Comparative, and then last but not least, Color. All right. Well, how do the blending modes actually work? In order to talk about that, let's take a look at a real scenario. Let's say that we have two images inside of a Photoshop document and we want to combine these two images together. Well, one way that we might try to do that is to choose a blending mode, say, for example, Soft Light. If we were to choose the Soft Light blending mode, it would allow us to create an image like you can see over here. Now keep in mind that with blending modes, you can create hundreds, if not, thousands of different types of looks and there are so many different reasons for using blending modes, yet in this example, you can see that it clearly blends these two images together in a unique way and creates kind of a fascinating effect.
All right. Well, now that we've been introduced to the topic of blending modes, let's see how this all really works and let's do that in the next movie.
- Learning about Multiply, Screen, and Soft Light
- Blending color and aligning images
- Creating composites with blend modes
- Adding glow and grain
- Using blend mode shortcuts
- Adding new texture to a backdrop
- Masking in clouds
- Using blend modes to enhance portraits and landscape photos