A Blending Mode Rundown

A Blending Mode Rundown

Before you can use blending modes, you need to know where to find them. One place is the Layers palette. Figure shows the open Blending Mode drop-down list. As shown in Figure, the blending modes are divided into six different sections on the drop-down list according to the type of pixels they affect.

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Figure: Whenever you encounter the Blending Mode drop-down list, you see that it’s organized into six categories. Here the drop-down list is shown in the Layers palette.

The other places that you can access blending modes are certain dialog boxes and the Options bar when a brush or painting tool is selected. The blending

modes are available on the Options bar when the following tools are selected: Art History, Blur, Brush, Bucket, Color Replacement, Gradient, Healing Brush, History Brush, Pencil, Sharpen, and Smudge. The blending modes are also available in the following dialog boxes: Apply Image, Calculations, Fade, Fill, and Layer Styles.

The first two modes, Normal and Dissolve, don’t change pixels on the layers underneath. Normal mode combined with 100% Opacity displays every pixel in the active layer no matter what colors are present on layers underneath. Dissolve mode works best on semi-transparent areas such as drop shadows or fade outs, changing them into a random spray of pixels. Take a look at the section “Creating a Grainy Shadow,” later in this chapter, to see Dissolve mode in action.

The next four modes, Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, and Linear Burn, use darker pixels to create results. White pixels are neutral, so they don’t affect the pixels underneath, but instead become clear.

Next on the blending mode drop-down list are the opposites of the four darkening blending modes above: Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge. These blending modes use lighter pixels to create results. Black pixels are neutral, so they don’t affect the pixels underneath, but instead become clear.

The fourth group down on the blending mode drop-down list includes six blending modes: Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, and Pin Light. These blending modes change the contrast of underlying pixels. 50% gray pixels are neutral, so they don’t affect the pixels underneath, but instead become clear. Pixels that are darker than 50% gray darken the underlying pixels; pixels that are lighter than 50% gray lighten the underlying pixels. Turn to the section “Fading a Filter,” later in this chapter, to see what Vivid Light mode can do.

The next blending mode group, Difference and Exclusion, uses comparison to create results. White areas on the active layer invert underlying pixels. Black areas on the active layer don’t affect the pixels underneath.

The final group of blending modes, Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity, apply that quality of the active layer to the pixels underneath. Look at the following section, “Applying a Blending Mode,” to see how the Luminosity mode blends pixels.

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