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Layer Blending Modes in Photoshop

By March 10, 2014Basics, Tips & Tricks

Layer Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Blending modes allows you to blend the active layer with the layers below. In Photoshop CS6 you can find 27 different blend modes. We can always experiment with different blend modes but we can’t predict the final result with accuracy. In this article we’ll learn the most commonly used blend modes, descriptions of each mode and the keyboard shortcuts.

Blending mode groups and descriptions

First lets see how to separate blend modes in separate groups. We can save time by knowing the possible result.

blend-modes-in-photoshop---groups

 

Normal

This is the default mode and there is no visible effect applied.

 

Dissolve

Random replacement of the pixel depending on the opacity. Photoshop takes those pixels and displays them, randomly. In similar way to a speckled effect

 

Darken

Compares the color information for each pixel and replaces pixels lighter than the blend color. Pixels darker than the blend color are not affected.

 

Multiply

Multiplies pixels of the top layer with the corresponding pixels of the bottom layer. The result is always a darker picture. Also,Multiplying any color with black produces black. MultIply blend mode is very commonly used.

 

Color Burn

This blend mode darkens the top layer by increasing the contrast. Blending with white produces no visible effect.

 

Linear Burn

Similar to color burn but instead of increasing contrast, linear burn decreases the brightness to darken the base color. Also, blending with white color produces no change.

 

Darker Color

Darker Color picks the darker colors between upper and lower layers.

 

Lighten

Pixels in the base layer that are darker than the blend color are replaced. Pixels that are lighter are left unchanged.

 

Screen

Multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors. The result is always a lighter color. Using screen mode with black leaves the color unchanged.

 

Color Dodge

Brightens the base color and decreases contrast between the two layers. Blending with black color produces no change. Commonly used and work great for light effects.

 

Linear Dodge (Add)

Linear Dodge is the opposite of Linear Burn. Increases brightness to lighten the base color. It is also similar to the Screen blend mode but with more intense result.

 

Lighter Color

Lighter Color compares and selects the lighter base or blend color. Pixels darker than the blend color are replaced.

 

Overlay

Overlay combines multiply and screen blend modes depending on the base color. light become lighter and dark become darker.

 

Soft Light

Depending on the blend color if is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened. Similar to dodging and burning.

 

Hard Light

Hard Light blend mode combines multiply and screen modes. Useful for adding highlights and shadows.

 

Vivid Light

Combines color dodge and color burn blend modes. Dodge applies when blend color is lighter than 50% gray and burn if the blend color is darker than 50% gray.

 

Linear Light

Combines linear dodge and linear burn blend modes. Dodge applies if the blend color is lighter than 50% gray. The image is lightened by increasing the brightness. Burn applies to darker values.

 

Pin Light

Pin Light replaces colors depending on the brightness of the blend color. Pin Light is primarily used for creating special effects to an image.

 

Hard Mix

The result of hard mix blend mode is either 0 or 255 for each channel. Changes all pixels to primary additive colors.

 

Difference

Difference highlights the differences between the blend layer and the base layer. Blending with black color produces no change.

 

Exclusion

Similar with difference blend mode but the contrast is lower. Blending with black color produces no change.

 

Subtract

Subtracts the blend color from the base color.

 

Divide

Divides the blend color from the base color.

 

Hue

Hue applies the hue of the blend color to the base image. Retains the luminance and saturation of the base image.

 

Saturation

Saturation applies the saturation of the blend color to the base image. Retains the hue and luminance of the base image.

 

Color

Color blend mode takes the grey levels of the base color and colors them with the blend color.

 

Luminosity

Luminosity applies the luminosity of the blend colors to the base image. Retains the hue and saturation of the base image.

 

Blending mode examples

These examples show the result of each blend mode in Photoshop.

blending-mode-examples---large

Commonly used blending modes

The most commonly used blend modes in Photoshop. Multiply for darkening, screen and color dodge for lightening. For contrast, overlay and soft light blend modes.

commonly-used-blend-modes-in-photoshop

Blending mode keyboard shortcuts

To save time from your projects use the keyboard shortcuts in this list.

blend-modes-keyboard-shortcuts-in-photoshop

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