Blending modes allow 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 let’s see how to separate blend modes in separate groups. We can save time by knowing the possible result.
This is the default mode and there is no visible effect applied.
Random replacement of the pixel depending on the opacity. Photoshop takes those pixels and displays them, randomly. In a similar way to a speckled effect
Compares the color information for each pixel and replaces pixels lighter than the blend color. Pixels darker than the blend color are not affected.
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.
This blend mode darkens the top layer by increasing the contrast. Blending with white produces no visible effect.
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 picks the darker colors between upper and lower layers.
Pixels in the base layer that are darker than the blend color are replaced. Pixels that are lighter are left unchanged.
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.
Brightens the base color and decreases the 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 a more intense result.
Lighter Color compares and selects the lighter base or blend color. Pixels darker than the blend color are replaced.
Overlay combines multiply and screen blend modes depending on the base color. light becomes lighter and dark become darker.
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 blend mode combines multiply and screen modes. Useful for adding highlights and shadows.
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.
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 replaces colors depending on the brightness of the blend color. Pin Light is primarily used for creating special effects to an image.
The result of hard mix blend mode is either 0 or 255 for each channel. Changes all pixels to primary additive colors.
The difference highlights the differences between the blend layer and the base layer. Blending with black color produces no change.
Similar to difference blend mode but the contrast is lower. Blending with black color produces no change.
Subtracts the blend color from the base color.
Divides the blend color from the base color.
Hue applies the hue of the blend color to the base image. Retains the luminance and saturation of the base image.
Saturation applies the saturation of the blend color to the base image. Retains the hue and luminance of the base image.
Color blend mode takes the grey levels of the base color and colors them with the blend color.
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.
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.
Blending mode keyboard shortcuts
To save time from your projects use the keyboard shortcuts in this list.