Other Ways to Use Blending Modes

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Ihile we tend to think of blending modes in terms of the pull-down options in the Layers palette, they also come into play in other areas of the application. Several of the brush tools support a choice of blending modes, as do layer styles and certain commands under the Image and Edit menus. The projects in this book concentrate on the blending mode options in the Layers palette, but we will explore these other possibilities from time to time, and they may be invaluable to your own adjustments and manipulations.

wl Adobe Photoshop

File Edit Image Layer Select Filter ViiVv Window Help

Many Photoshop tools also support their own blending modes.

I set the Brush tool's blending mode to Dissolve, its opacity to 50%, and then painted with gray on the lower left-hand side of the picture. This caused a random 50% of the pixels in that area to be gray.

Tool blending modes

Many of Photoshop's tools support blending modes, and these behave very much as you might expect One of the easiest ways to see this is by painting directly onto an image Set the foreground color to a dark gray, select the Brush tool (Shortcut B), set its blending mode to Darken, and paint on the image layer You will see that the brush paints pixels that are lighter than your gray color, but leaves darker pixels untouched Because Darken works on a channel basis, it's slightly more complicated than that, but this concept extends to many tools

With a little skill and forethought, you can exploit the blending modes in all sorts of other tools For example, you might use the Close tool or the Healing brush in combination with the Lighten blending mode to remove wrinkles from a portrait, sampling from an area of soft skin and pasting the blemishes

While tool blending modes have advantages, my own preference is to restrict any blending mode changes to actual layers That way, it's much easier to isolate the edits and reverse or fine-tune them You can open the file again and change the layer's blending mode, make a subtle switch from Lighten to Screen, or vary the edit layer's opacity Tool blending modes change the affected pixels forever and you won't be able to fine-tune them at a later date

The Clone Stamp is a tool that experts often use with blending modes.

The Clone Stamp is a tool that experts often use with blending modes.

The Fade command

Under Photoshop's Edit menu, the Fade command is another place where you will find blending modes Think of Fade as a percentage version of Undo, with the added power of blending modes

To get an idea of how you might use it, think of how many times you apply a filter and realize right away that you've used too strong a setting You might undo and repeat the work, but consider activating the Edit menu and seeing if Fade is available It will be active immediately after any Photoshop "painting" work—for example, after you paint with a brush, fill a selection with a pattern, use lmage>Adjustments, apply Edit>Transform to a selection, or after you apply a filter Fade will usually be active after such painting, and will stay available until you make further changes to pixels

Found under Photoshop's Edit menu, Fade can moderate the effect of your most recent painting activity.

Adobe Photoshop


Image Layer Select Filter View Window Help

Adobe Photoshop


Image Layer Select Filter View Window Help

Undo Clouds

Step Forward Step Backward

Ctrl+Z Shift+Ctrl+Z Alt+Ctrl+Z


Fade Clouds...

Copy Merged Paste Paste Into Clear

Ctrl+X Ctrl+C Shift+Ctrl+C Ctrl+V Shift+Ctrl+V

Check Spelling,,, Find and Replace Text...

Fill... Stroke...


Free Transform Transform


Define Brush Preset... Define Pattern... Define Custom Shape,,,



Adobe PDF Presets... Preset Manager,,,

Color Settings... Assign Profile,,, Convert to Profile...


Keyboard Shortcuts,,,


Alt+Shift+Ctrl+K Alt+Shift+Ctrl+M


Fade is rather like putting your filter, brushstrokes, or other painting work on a layer The Edit>Fade dialog has an Opacity slider, a Mode drop-down menu, and a Preview check box The slider is a simple percentage control—set it at 50% and half of the painting work's effect is undone, as if the layer is 50% transparent Similarly, Mode changes the effect of the painting work by applying your chosen blending mode

Remember that Fade's opacity setting is a bit cruder than the layer opacity Fade only has an overall percentage while layers have separate layer and fill opacities, which you can use to fine-tune modes such as Hard Mix

Also, Photoshop's painting isn't always so simple that percentage Undo is the right choice, so I'd encourage you to toggle Fade's preview and consider what effect you are trying to reduce For example, you may be better off completely undoing the Unsharp Mask filter and altering one of its three settings, while Fade may be the right solution if you have blurred a layer and filled a selection with color






Normal Dissolve



Color Burn

Linear Burn


Color Dodge Linear Dodge

0 Preview

Fade's dialog features the full set of blending modes.

Color Dodge Linear Dodge

Overlay Soft Light Hard Light Vivid Light Linear Light Pin Light Hard Mix

Difference Exclusion

Saturation Color


Layer Styles

Layer Styles are an increasingly popular way to add special effects to pictures A style consists of a layer's blending mode, opacity, drop shadows, texture patterns, and many other properties You can save a style and apply it to other images, and you can import into Photoshop styles that other people have created and shared on websites, such as Adobe's Studio Exchange (www.adobestudioexchange.com). Some of these are very complex and clever, and produce amazing results Layer blending modes are not the main reason for choosing to save a style After all, what's inefficient about selecting the blending mode from the Layers palette's drop-down box? It's more that the Layer Style dialog box has blending modes for each of its properties Therefore, you can define that a Pattern Overlay will blend with the rest of the layer using the Lighten blending mode The layer itself may have a totally different blending mode to control how it blends with the underlying image

Opacity: | Normal

Normal Dissolve

Darken Multiply Color Burn Linear Burn


Lighten Screen Color Dodge Linear Dodge

Nearly all properties of the Layer Style dialog box have blending mode options.

Overlay Soft Light Hard Light

Linear Light I Pin Light Hard Mix

Difference Exclusion

Difference Exclusion

Image Calculations and Apply Image

In the days before Photoshop introduced layers, Calculations was one way to composite images It merges two channels and produces a flattened image, and some users still use it as a way of converting a color picture into black and white Also under Photoshop's Image menu is Apply Image, which overwrites the active image with itself or a channel

Both dialog boxes include blending modes Layers and adjustment layers offer much more flexibility, and, while Calculations and Apply Image may still be useful if you are tight on disk space, in these days of massive hard drives they're a bit of an anachronism I will mention that Katrin Eismann's book, Photoshop Masking and Compositing, includes examples for using these commands in very sophisticated masking techniques

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" Blet^jng: 1 Multiply "

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Image Calculations has blending mode options and can be used to merge two channels to a new channel or a black-and-white image.

Apply Image overwrites the active image and also has blending mode options.

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Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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