What do you think of the word “Blend”? Something that mixes up things like solid or liquid foods. But, hey, this is Photoshop Blend Modes and please try not to mix physical foods in this because it won’t do it. But, for digitized photo editing operations, Blend modes play a magnificent role.
As the definition, Blend Modes take pixels of one layer and blend them with the pixels of another layer, to create a completely new effect in photo editing services. So, if you are willing to do something interesting with the use of the blend tool Photoshop, here is your opportunity to learn. And, let’s get started.
Most photographers are aware that layers are one of Photoshop’s most well-known, if not infamous, features. Levels are the foundation of Photoshop’s non-destructive editing, and practically every Photoshop workflow involves many layers. As a result, it’s critical to comprehend how Photoshop’s Blend modes might be used to blend these layers together.
The Blending mode selected in the options bar determines how a painting or editing tools affect pixels in the image. When visualizing the effect of a Blending mode, consider the following colors:
- The original image color serves as the base color.
- The paint or editing tool’s blend color is the color that is secondary.
- The color that results from the mix is called the blended color.
Photoshop Blend Modes in Brief
The Photoshop blend tool location is with the layers panel on the left of the ‘Opacity’ option. Also, if you select the brush tool, you will find another location on the top right below the Photoshop menus. In the settings bar, select Mode from the popup menu.
Things You Should Know
- Scroll through the Blend mode pop-up menu to check how different options look on your image. On the canvas, Photoshop shows a live preview of the Blend modes.
- For 32bit images, only the Blending modes Normal, Dissolve, Darken, Multiply, Darker Color, Lighten, Linear Dodge (Add), Lighter Color, Difference, Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity are available.
You will find all the Photoshop blend modes in some groups though they are not mentioned by name in the program. So, we have divided them according to the name for you to understand easily. One mentionable blend mode is Overlay which has great use in the Image Masking Service.
Normal Photoshop blend modes:
The first one in the column is the Normal Blend Mode. Each pixel is edited or painted to achieve the desired color. This is the standard-setting. When working with a bitmapped or indexed-color image, the normal mode is termed Threshold. This does not make any difference whether you apply that on a layer or over the background.
Clear Photoshop blend modes:
Clear is also another Blending mode that you need to use the Brush Tool to make use of it. Obviously, this is not present in the column of other blend modes in the layers panel. Makes each pixel translucent by editing or painting it. The Shape tools, Paint Bucket tool, Brush tool, Pencil tool, Fill command, and Stroke command all work in this mode when the fill region is selected. To utilize this option, you must be in a layer that does not have Lock Transparency enabled.
Darken Photoshop blend modes:
Look at the color information in each channel and choose the darker of the base or blend colors as the result color. Pixels with a lighter blend color are replaced, whereas pixels with a deeper blend color remain unchanged. To be more exact, everything that has 50% or below brightness level will be visible by ratio. But, everything more than 50% will be hidden. So, literally, Darken blend mode makes darker portions as it is. And, makes brighter portions hidden in the canvas.
Multiply Photoshop blend modes:
Multiply blend mode is one of the most used Photoshop blend modes for editing technically difficult photos for masking or retouching. Each channel’s color information is examined in this blend mode. And, the base color is multiplied by the mixed color. So, the end outcome comes with a darker shade. When you multiply any color by black, you get black because the hue is 0. And, the reason is, when you multiply any number by 0 the result will be 0. When you multiply any color by white, the color remains the same as the hue is 1. But, when using a painting tool to paint with a color other than black or white, repeated strokes produce progressively darker colors. The effect is akin to many marking pens being used to draw on the image. So tone with 100% white will make a clear view of the below layer and any lesser than that will make a darker shade based on the percentage.
Color Burn is a special kind of blend mode that works in between 100% white and 100% black. So, everything contained by the mentioned term will be untouched. But, any color less than 100% black will be affected by the color shade you place over the base layer. 100% white stays unchanged without any loss or difference. By raising the contrast between the two channels’ color information, the base color is darkened to reflect the blend color. Adding white to the mix has no effect. Also, the Color Burn blend mode darkens the canvas at the same time. Well, there is more to explain in a real scenario but for the brief, we stop at this point.
Linear Burn blend mood looks at the color information in each channel and reduces the brightness of the base color to reflect the blend color. It does not maintain 100% white as it is like the Color Burn blend mode. And, this is one major difference between Color Burn and Linear Burn. well, except for that both act almost the same on the base layer. Linear Burn is also among the 8 special kinds of blend modes.
The Darker Color is a harsh version of the Darken blend mode that you may not need to use often. The blend and base color’s total channel values are compared, and the lower value color is displayed. Because it chooses the lowest channel values from both the base and the blend color to create the result color, Darker Color does not produce a third color, which can occur when using the Darken blend. So, when you use it, the areas less than 50% brightness also disappears up to 20% level.
The Lighten blend mode is exactly the opposite of the Darken blend mode in characteristics. So, it looks at the color data in each channel and chooses the lighter of the base or blend colors to be the result color. Pixels that are darker than the blend color are replaced, while pixels that are lighter stay the same.
The Screen blend mode is the opposite of the Multiply blend mode. And, it multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors using the color information from each channel. The end outcome is always a lighter shade. The color is unaffected by black screening. When you screen with white, you get white. And, when you screen with black, well, you know what it is. Yes, the base color or texture indeed. It’s like superimposing many photography slides on top of each other.
Like the two blend modes right above works as the opposite of the previous group’s blending modes, Color Dodge is just the opposite of Color Burn. So, everything in the canvas with 100% black will remain as it is. And, everything that has 100% white will be changed according to the layer you placed above the base layer. By reducing the contrast between the two channels’ color information, the base color is brightened to reflect the mixed color. Blending with black has no effect.
Linear Dodge (Add)
Linear Dodge does not keep 100% black as black like the Color Dodge and changes that according to the blend layer. And, it also affects the bright areas as well. By raising the brightness of the base color, it is brightened to reflect the mixed color. There’s no difference when you mix black with white. By the way, Linear Dodge is the opposite of Color Dodge blend mode in the real scenario.
The lighter Color is exactly the opposite of the Darker Color blend mode. The blend and base color’s total channel values are compared, and the greater value color is displayed. Because it chooses the highest channel values from both the base and blend color to create the result color. Lighter Color does not produce a third color, which can occur when using the Lighten blend.
Depending on the base color, the colors are multiplied or filtered. Patterns or colors are applied on top of existing pixels, keeping the base color’s highlights and shadows. The base color isn’t replaced; instead, it’s blended with the blend color to represent the original color’s lightness or darkness.
Depending on the blend color, the colors will darken or brighten. The result is akin to a diffused spotlight shining on the image. The image is lightened as if it were dodged if the blend color (light source) is less than 50 percent gray. The image darkens as if it were burned in if the blend color is darker than 50% gray. Pure black or white paint results in a distinctly darker or brighter region, but not purely black or white.
Depending on the mixed color, multiplies or filters the colors. The effect is similar to a strong spotlight being shone on the image. The image is lightened as if it were screened if the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50 percent gray. This is useful for enhancing an image’s highlights. The image is dimmed as though it were multiplied if the blend color is darker than 50 percent gray. This can be used to create shadows in an image. Pure black or white paint results in pure black or white.
Depending on the blend color, burns or dodges colors by increasing or diminishing contrast. The image is brightened by decreasing the contrast if the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50 percent gray. The image is darkened by raising the contrast if the blend color is darker than 50% gray.
Depending on the blend color, burns or dodges the colors by lowering or raising their brightness. The image is lightened by increasing the brightness if the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray. The image is darkened by decreasing the brightness of the blend color is darker than 50 percent gray.
Depending on the mixed color, the colors are replaced. If the blend color (light source) is less than 50% gray, pixels darker than the blend color is replaced, while pixels lighter than the mixed color remain unchanged. Pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, but pixels darker than the blend color remain unchanged if the blend color is darker than 50 percent gray. This is excellent for enhancing an image with special effects.
The RGB values of the base color are combined with the red, green, and blue channel values of the blend color. A value of 255 is assigned to a channel if the resulting sum is 255 or larger; otherwise, a value of 0 is assigned. As a result, all blended pixels have values of 0 or 255 in their red, green, and blue channels. All pixels are changed to primary additive colors (red, green, or blue), white, or black as a result of this.
Note: Hard Mix converts all pixels in CMYK images to primary subtractive hues (cyan, yellow, or magenta), white, or black. The color value that can be used is 100.
Takes the color information from each channel and subtracts the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the higher brightness value. When you blend with white, the underlying color values invert; when you mix with black, nothing happens. Dark grays have a small darkening effect, but black has no impact. This blending mode is ideal for aligning layers that have comparable content. The eighth and final Blending Mode differs from the others in that it reacts differently when Fill is reduced compared to Opacity.
Creates a similar impression to Difference mode, but with less contrast. The underlying color values are inverted when you blend with the white. Blending with black has no effect. Difference and exclusion are quite similar. When you blend with white, the underlying color values are inverted, but when you blend with black, nothing happens. Blending with 50% gray, on the other hand, will result in 50% gray.
Subtract Blending Mode takes pixel values from the base layer and subtracts them. By reducing brightness, this Blending Mode severely darkens pixels. The color black has no effect. The effect only gets darker as the blend values get brighter. Notice how the gradient’s light portions are almost completely black, while the dark areas show only a slight variation. Look at each channel’s color data and subtract the blend color from the base color. Any negative values that result in 8- and 16-bit pictures are trimmed to zero.
Divides the blend color from the base color using the color information in each channel. Subtract is the inverse of Divide. There is no effect with white. The outcome becomes brighter only when the blend values become darker. The blend layer’s dark portions provide vibrant colors, while the light areas produce only a minor alteration.
The Hue Blend Mode maintains the base pixels’ brightness and saturation while using the blend pixels’ hue. Hue can also be used to tweak the colors of a layer despite preserving the original’s nuances and saturation. The luminance and saturation of the base color, as well as the hue of the blend color, are combined to create a result color.
The Saturation Blending Mode keeps the foundation layer’s brightness and color while imparting the blend layer’s saturation. Because none of the pixels in the luminosity layer are saturated, a black-and-white mix layer converts the image to grayscale as well. Creates a result color using the base color’s brightness and hue, as well as the blend color’s saturation. In an area with no (0) saturation (gray), painting in this mode has no effect.
Color Blending Mode keeps the base layer’s luminosity while using the blend layer’s hue and saturation. For coloring monochromatic photos, Color is the best Blending Mode. Color is also the second of two Commuted Blending Modes, alongside Luminosity. If you use the Color Blending Mode on the blend layer, you’ll get the same result as if you use the Luminosity Blending Mode on the Base layer and then reverse the layers’ order.
Creates a result color using the base color’s brightness and the blend color’s hue and saturation. This preserves the image’s gray levels and is useful for both coloring monochrome and tinting color photos.
Luminosity maintains the underlying layer’s hue and saturation while embracing the blend layer’s luminosity. Creates a result color with the base color’s hue and saturation as well as the blend color’s brightness. This setting has the exact opposite effect as Color mode.
The second one is Dissolve which gives you pixels in dots that look like mists. However, depending on the opacity at any pixel location, the outcome color is a random replacement of the pixels with the base color or the blend color. The less value of the opacity, the fewer dot pixels will be visible with more distance. Well, the dissolve is also similar to other Blend modes that work on the above layer of the background.
Here comes the third one that is Behind. Only works on the transparent section of a layer while editing or painting. So, you need to use the Brush Tool to avail this Blending mode. Otherwise, you will not find that in the default location in Photoshop layers. This mode is similar to drawing on the back of transparent sections on a sheet of acetate and only works in layers with Lock Transparency deselected. You will not have this one active while working on masks.
Pass-Through Photoshop blend modes:
The initial Blending Mode is not Normal when you pick a group. “Pass Through” is the new name of the blending modes explained. The Pass-Through Blending Mode directs Photoshop to treat all layers within such a group as if they were part of a standard layer stack rather than the group. The group serves just as a means of organization, and all of the levels blend together as expected.
If you switch the Pass-Through Blending Mode to the other one, Photoshop will mix the layers in the band first, then the resulting composition with the layers below it using the Blending Mode you specified. This is the same as combining all of the layers in a group and then assigning a Blending Mode to them.
As a result, it may be used to generate some amazing effects, particularly when compositing. When the Blending Mode of a Group is set to Normal, all adjustment layers within that group will only influence the contents of that group.
Keyboard Shortcuts for Photoshop blend modes
By clicking the drop-down menu and picking one from the list, you can alter the Blending Mode of a layer. Alternatively, you can utilize the Blend Modes keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. To go down to the next Blending Mode, press Shift +. Alternatively, press Shift – to move up the list.
If you’re using a painting tool, this shortcut will alter the tool’s Blending Mode rather than the layers. To avoid this, get into the habit of selecting the Move tool with the V key, then scrolling through the Blending Modes with Shift + or Shift –.
Except for the two Blending Modes added in Photoshop CS5 in 2010, Subtract and Divide, each of the Blend Modes has a keyboard shortcut for applying it to a layer.
However, I don’t think you should study all photoshop blend modes and actually, a few are required indeed. Learn only the ones you’ll use the most. Screen, Multiply, Overlay, Soft Light, Color, and Luminously are the most used effects that I use the majority of the time. So, if you want to do more in photo editing and be an expert in Photoshop, you should have a thorough idea. We will be creating content that can give you quite a handful. Till then, stay tuned.