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Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 28 of 118

Soft Light Blend Mode


Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 28 of 118

Soft Light Blend Mode


Lesson Info

Soft Light Blend Mode

Soft light is unique also. In that it applies itself to areas. The way it applies itself to the areas in your image is anything that's dark will get darker. Anything that's white will get lighter and 50% gray completely goes away. So looking at this example, we have that same image that we have there. If I were to change this to the soft light blend mode, pay attention what happens. The darks are getting darker. The black is applying itself to make the underlying image appear darker and appear lighter. But it's never getting to pure black. Notice how that is a pure black color that we put across the top there. But it's not allowing it to get to pure black. It's just giving it a boost in the lightness or darkness of it. Now its second cousin, I guess, would be overlay. Change it to overlay, look at the difference. It's much harder, it's more harsh. Lot more contrasty. A lot of times I tend to stay away from overlay because it's a little too much for me. So I'll do something like soft li...

ght. Because notice what soft light is also doing. It's allowing, it's preserving a lot of the tones underneath while it does it to be more of a soft protection, I guess, over your image. So if I press command or control I on that, notice how we've just flipped this. We've just flipped this so that if we change this back to normal, our black's on the bottom, our white's on the top. We flip it. We do the soft light. It gives me that second option for this one as well. But notice that strip in the middle. The strip in the middle is 50% gray. Nothing is changing there. And this is a really powerful tool and a powerful blend mode to use in conjunction with a 50% gray layer while dodging and burning. So if I were to delete this layer here, and I were to make a new layer by clicking on this little icon right here, make a new layer. We're gonna go to edit and go to fill and the fill dialogue is gonna pop up. It's gonna ask me, "What do I wanna fill this with?" Do I want to fill it with my foreground color, which would be black? My background color which would be white? Or any color that I choose? Or do I wanna fill it with straight black, straight white, or 50% gray. So for this, we're gonna fill it to 50% gray. We're gonna change the blend mode right here to soft light. And then press okay. And it didn't actually change it to soft light. Imagine that. So what we're gonna do here is go to this blend mode and change this to soft light. Okay. So when I do that, if I turn this on and off, nothing's changing, right? Nothing is changing. It's staying 50% gray. So this is where the dodge and the burn tools become really helpful for pushing and pulling the depth in the image. I like to look at dodging and burning as me being the creator of light where light was not. Any image that I produce, it's gonna be printed. Especially for a client that wants some of my landscape images. Always goes to dodging and burning. Because it's me as the artist that gets to select what happens with the lights and the darks. If you're in portrait photography, portraits can really be pushed and pulled with the depth and the shadows and the highlights in people's face and also smoothing things out and making that face look a lot more attractive for a photograph. Take any photograph for face value. It's not gonna look quite as good as it would as if it's run through that artistic process and those artistic pieces. And that's where you're gonna see dodging and burning, and I highly encourage you to do that. So with this set to 50% gray, let me go ahead and get you introduced to some good habits here. We're just gonna double click this and call this dodge. And burn. 50% gray, full filled layer. Notice that this is not, this is not an adjustment layer. This is a pixel based layer that's been filled with gray. So it's not gonna exist outside of the bounds, okay? That we talked about with adjustment layers. So if I go over here to the dodge tool, and set to dodge with a soft edge brush, it's attacking my mid-tones with the exposure of 50. I would highly encourage you to bring this down to something like 20 or 15. Just something low. And now if I start painting on my image with this brush, it's gonna start brightening things up. So I get to decide what gets brighter. I'm gonna make this door brighter. I get to decide what gets brighter. And if I press alt or option, it's automatically going to switch me over to the burn tool. So alt or option. I'm now set to burn. If I start painting in and holding alt and option, notice I see that little alt symbol there. That's telling you while you're watching me, that I'm burning that area. I'm making that area darker. Might make my brush a little bit bigger to speed this along. Just brush here to darken this and what I'm gonna do here, specifically with this area, is I'm darkening down areas. Almost kind of making a vignette. You see that? I'm just vignetting the street a little bit and then if I unclick alt or option, I'm now dodging. So I'll start dodging some of the foreground area. What happens when I do that is I'm starting to make that area a little bit more inviting for the viewer. It allows their feet a place to step, and it also, if you look at this, it's taking a, what looked like a very two-dimensional, three-dimensional area, but two-dimensional base on the way it was edited, look almost three-dimensional. Almost like that floor is now raising up a little bit, not flattened out quite as much as it was. So I press alt or option. Just burn a little bit more around here. I like the way these lights looked when they were darker, so I'll burn those down. Burn this. Really brighten up this door, brighten up the pathway here. And then maybe brighten up some of these areas, and then maybe alt or option up here. So, you know, vignettes, a traditional vignette will apply itself globally if you have something like Adobe Camera or a light room. Global, meaning it's going to attack the whole image. But with this type of vignette, if you wanna call it that, we get to decide where it affects our photograph. So you watched me do this. So while you watched me do it, it probably doesn't seem like it would be that big of a difference, but look at the difference. There's the before, there's the after. There's the before, there's the after. It's a soft light layer at 100%. Look at what's going on there. We're making dark areas darker by using a burn tool, which is essentially kind of like a black paintbrush, and we're making bright areas, areas I want to be brighter using dodge that when we look at this, that's the paint of what's going on in the background. If we turn this, our soft light, our image that we're working on here on, then turn our soft light layer off, that's without those affects. We're making things brighter, we're making things darker with dodging and burning on a soft light layer set to 50% gray. There are many different ways that you can dodge and burn out there. As a matter of fact, if I wanted to and do something destructive, which I don't recommend you do, I could start dodging and burning right now on this layer. It's going to make things brighter and darker. But what it's not doing is it's not allowing me to do that in a not destructive way. And we don't wanna work destructively. That is the last thing we wanna do. What we wanna do is we wanna make sure that when we're working on our images, that we're preserving all of the data that's happening underneath, especially that background layer. Because that's the source of everything that's happening above. 'Cause as we talk about the layer stack, the layer stack, everything that's happening on the top, what happens on the bottom does transition into the top. Especially when you get into things like blend if, even with these blend modes.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop. 

Topics covered will include:

  • Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
  • Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
  • Smart Objects, Transforming, Actions, Filters, and Editing Video
  • Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow

Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


  1. Bootcamp Introduction
  2. The Bridge Interface
  3. Setting up Bridge
  4. Overview of Bridge
  5. Practical Application of Bridge
  6. Introduction to Raw Editing
  7. Setting up ACR Preferences & Interface
  8. Global Tools Part 1
  9. Global Tools Part 2
  10. Local Tools
  11. Introduction to the Photoshop Interface
  12. Toolbars, Menus and Windows
  13. Setup and Interface
  14. Adobe Libraries
  15. Saving Files
  16. Introduction to Cropping
  17. Cropping for Composition in ACR
  18. Cropping for Composition in Photoshop
  19. Cropping for the Subject in Post
  20. Cropping for Print
  21. Perspective Cropping in Photoshop
  22. Introduction to Layers
  23. Vector & Raster Layers Basics
  24. Adjustment Layers in Photoshop
  25. Organizing and Managing Layers
  26. Introduction to Layer Tools and Blend Modes
  27. Screen and Multiply and Overlay
  28. Soft Light Blend Mode
  29. Color and Luminosity Blend Modes
  30. Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes
  31. Introduction to Layer Styles
  32. Practical Application: Layer Tools
  33. Introduction to Masks and Brushes
  34. Brush Basics
  35. Custom Brushes
  36. Brush Mask: Vignettes
  37. Brush Mask: Curves Dodge & Burn
  38. Brush Mask: Hue & Saturation
  39. Mask Groups
  40. Clipping Masks
  41. Masking in Adobe Camera Raw
  42. Practical Applications: Masks
  43. Introduction to Selections
  44. Basic Selection Tools
  45. The Pen Tool
  46. Masks from Selections
  47. Selecting Subjects and Masking
  48. Color Range Mask
  49. Luminosity Masks Basics
  50. Introduction to Cleanup Tools
  51. Adobe Camera Raw
  52. Healing and Spot Healing Brush
  53. The Clone Stamp Tool
  54. The Patch Tool
  55. Content Aware Move Tool
  56. Content Aware Fill
  57. Custom Cleanup Selections
  58. Introduction to Shapes and Text
  59. Text Basics
  60. Shape Basics
  61. Adding Text to Pictures
  62. Custom Water Marks
  63. Introduction to Smart Objects
  64. Smart Object Basics
  65. Smart Objects and Filters
  66. Smart Objects and Image Transformation
  67. Smart Objects and Album Layouts
  68. Smart Objects and Composites
  69. Introduction to Image Transforming
  70. ACR and Lens Correction
  71. Photoshop and Lens Correction
  72. The Warp Tool
  73. Perspective Transformations
  74. Introduction to Actions in Photoshop
  75. Introduction to the Actions Panel Interface
  76. Making Your First Action
  77. Modifying Actions After You Record Them
  78. Adding Stops to Actions
  79. Conditional Actions
  80. Actions that Communicate
  81. Introduction to Filters
  82. ACR as a Filter
  83. Helpful Artistic Filters
  84. Helpful Practical Filters
  85. Sharpening with Filters
  86. Rendering Trees
  87. The Oil Paint and Add Noise Filters
  88. Introduction to Editing Video
  89. Timeline for Video
  90. Cropping Video
  91. Adjustment Layers and Video
  92. Building Lookup Tables
  93. Layers, Masking Video & Working with Type
  94. ACR to Edit Video
  95. Animated Gifs
  96. Introduction to Creative Effects
  97. Black, White, and Monochrome
  98. Matte and Cinematic Effects
  99. Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades
  100. Gradients
  101. Glow and Haze
  102. Introduction to Natural Retouching
  103. Brightening Teeth
  104. Clean Up with the Clone Stamp Tool
  105. Cleaning and Brightening Eyes
  106. Advanced Clean Up Techniques
  107. Introduction to Portrait Workflow & Bridge Organization
  108. ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits
  109. Portrait Workflow Techniques
  110. Introduction to Landscape Workflow & Bridge Organization
  111. Landscape Workflow Techniques
  112. Introduction to Compositing & Bridge
  113. Composite Workflow Techniques
  114. Landscape Composite Projects
  115. Bonus: Rothko and Workspace
  116. Bonus: Adding Textures to Photos
  117. Bonus: The Mask (Extras)
  118. Bonus: The Color Range Mask in ACR


a Creativelive Student

Amazing course, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a beginner's course for photographers. The problem isn't Blake's explanations; they're top. The problem is the vast scope of this course and the order in which the topics are presented. Take layers for example. When I was first learning Photoshop (back when we learned from books), I found I learned little or nothing from, for example, books that covered layers before they covered how to improve/process photographs. These books taught me how to organize, move, and link layers before they showed me what a layer was actually for. Those books tended to teach me everything there is to know about layers (types of layers, how to organize them, how to move them, how to move them two at a time, how to move them two at a time even if there are other layers between the two you're interested in, useful troubleshooting tips, etc. ) all before I even know (from a photographer's point of view) what it is the things actually do. The examples of organizing, linking, and moving mean everything for graphic designers from Day One, but for photographers not so much. Blake does the same thing as those books. Topics he covers extremely early demand a lot of theoretical imagination for a photographer who doesn't already know quite a bit about what he is talking about. Learning about abstract things first and concrete things later only makes PS that much harder to understand. If you AREN'T a beginner, however, this course is amazing. I thought it would be like an Army Bootcamp, taking you from zero and building you into a fit, competent Photoshop grunt. Now I think it's more like Army Bootcamp for high school varsity jocks. It isn't going to take you from the beginning, but the amount you'll get out of it is nonetheless more than your brain can imagine. I've been using PS for years to improve my photographs, and even to create the odd artistic composite or two. The amount I've learned in the first week is amazing, and every day I learn something -- more like many things -- which I immediately implement to improve my productivity and/or widen the horizons of what I can achieve. If you ARE a photographer who's a Photoshop beginner, I'd take very seriously the advice Blake gives in the introduction: Watch one lesson, and practice the skills and principles you learn in that one lesson for two weeks. THEN watch the next lesson. You can't do that of course without buying the course, so it's up to you to decide whether you'd like to learn Photoshop and master Photoshop all from the same course. Learning it first and mastering it later will cost more money, but I think you'll understand everything better and have a much more enjoyable ride in the process. As for me? I'm going to have to find the money to buy this course. There is simply way too much content in each lesson for me to try to take on all at once, but on the other hand I don't want to miss anything at all that he has to share.

Robert Andrews

Blake Rudis is the absolute best in teaching photoshop. His knowledge and how he presents the instruction is clear and concise - there is NO ONE BETTER. Yes, his classes require some basic skills, and maybe I'd organize the order of (or group) the classes in a different order, but, let me be clear - if anyone is to be successful or famous in the Photoshop world, it should be Blake Rudis. I strongly recommend his teaching. I started photography and post processing in 2018, and because of this class, I'm know what Im doing. The energy you get when you create something beautiful is profound, it makes you bounce out of bed (at 4AM) like a 5 year old, to go create. It's a great ride! Thanks Blake, & Thanks Creative live.

Esther Gambrell

WOW!!! I've been purchasing CL classes for several years now and have watched HOURS of "How-To Photoshop" classes, but this is the first one I've actually purchased because of the AWESOME BONUS content!!! SERIOUSLY??!!?!? A PLUG-IN??? But not only that, Blake is SO easy to understand, and he breaks down concepts in different ways to connect with different people's learning styles. I REALLY appreciated this approach because I am a LEFT-BRAINED creative that has an engineering background, so I really connected to what Blake was saying. THANK YOU FOR THAT! There are TONS of Photoshop courses out there, but I found this one to be the most helpful in they way Blake teaches concepts so that you know WHY you're doing what your doing. I feel like he taught me how to fish with Photoshop to feed me for a lifetime instead of just giving me a fish to feed me for one day. This is the BEST overall PS course out there!!! Thank you!!!!