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Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 5 of 20

Most Common Blend Modes & Groups

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

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Lesson Info

5. Most Common Blend Modes & Groups

Lesson Info

Most Common Blend Modes & Groups

Alright, let's talk about blend modes. Oh I love me some blend modes y'all, let's do it. (laughing) If you're following along we are still on page eight. We're gonna be working through page eight and page nine not too quickly but we're gonna discuss blend modes and then we're gonna jump into Photoshop and I'm gonna show you some tricks. Right? So blend modes transform layers by comparing one group of pixels with another. You may not remember what every single blend mode does. You really don't have to. But at least knowing their groups, which this particular slide does show. Knowing their groups can help you make really quick decisions on the fly. So you don't have to cycle through all of your blends, you don't have to start from the beginning and just feel like oh I can't do this stop it. You can just say O.K. you know what I need to darken something choose something from the darken group. So let's talk about that. The first two modes at the top are called the normal modes. The normal ...

modes use no specific kind of math or algorithm. They just do what they do and it includes normal and dissolve. Now I don't have on this example behind and clear which are two extra blend modes that you'll find in the painting modes. Like if you use the brush tool you'll find two of those behind and clear. They're pretty self-explanatory if you have something behind something else or you wanna clear pixels in the background area, that's how those work. But they're just normal modes. And you will default to the normal mode quite often unless you want to blend something. Dissolve is when you want to create something that has a lot of noise. And that helps. The darken modes are the next group and there's quite a few of those. There's darken, multiply, color burn, linear burn, and darker color. They of course are just gonna make your pixels darker in some kind of way. Whenever you want to reduce your highlights and make something darker a darken mode is just gonna be the one you're gonna choose. On the opposite side of that is the lighten modes. Lighten, screen, color dodge, color dodge, linear dodge (add), and lighter color. We use those to make things lighter. So if you want to reduce your shadows then lighten modes are the way to go. Pretty simple, O.K.. Now there's a couple of Easter eggs in there where you say O.K. well screen mode is gonna do this or multiply mode is gonna do that. I'm gonna show you a couple of those tricks coming up. But if you say O.K. I just want to make it this. Those two groups are where you're gonna start, generally. Now the contrast modes are some of my favorites because they are going to improve your contrast especially if you want to make a photo seem to have more highlights and more shadows and not so much mid-gray tones. So the contrast modes include overlay, soft light, hard light, vivid light, linear light, pin light, and hard mix. And believe it or not I've used all of them and they're really great modes if you need to use them for specific things. Like for example hard mix will give you that Andy Warhol type of effect, but if you don't want it to have so many channels and look so bad you can reduce the opacity or the fill opacity for it and you're gonna get a great result. So those are all modes that you can and maybe eventually will use, but as long as you know that that group in the orange there is contrast modes. Well you know you're gonna get lighter light highlights, you're gonna get darker shadows and it's gonna pull your mid-gray values down. Very simple stuff. The second to the last group is called the inversion/cancellation modes we use those for comparison. A lot of people kind of refer to them as the negative image modes. And yeah we can say that if you put one of those modes on you're gonna see like a little bit of difference if you have a photo it's gonna give you the inverse of that photo. Like a negative photo. But really if you actually take those same two photos and apply them together, you're gonna get black as an example. So if you need to reduce a photo to the same exact size or you want to, which I do for a lot, when I take one head and I want to put it on another photo, you can use some of the inversion and cancellation modes to show you how big the eyes are gonna be so that this person's eyes are the same as this person. And you know that your head is generally in the same area. When I was doing my project for my friend where he was on a Garbage Pail Kid. I had to take his head and put it on the Garbage Pail and make sure that the eyes match the frame of his jaw matches. I use the inversion and cancellation modes so I can see through the images to make sure that the eyes match up. We don't use them a lot for scrapbooking but they still help. So if you haven't played around with them play around with them. And finally you have your component modes and they're going to focus on a specific component of a photo. Like a hue, like a saturation, like a specific color, or like lightness which is the inverse of or like luminosity which is the inverse of the color mode. O.K. so that's all fine and dandy. I want you to know what those groups do more so than I want you to know about the single particular kinds of the specific blend mode each. You don't always have to know but you do know want to know a couple of them more than others I will say that. So the most common blend modes are from the darken, lighten and contrast groups. Those are the ones you're gonna use most often. Also, you're going to use a few of them more than you're going to use others. For example, I use multiply, color burn, and linear burn quite often. Also those are all from the darken modes, right? I'm going to use screen and color dodge and linear dodge more often those are from the lighten modes. And then overlay, soft light, and hard light are the ones from the contrast modes that you're gonna use very often. You can stick to those nine modes for all of your life and be very happy. You really could. But just blending these by themselves will give you remarkable things, functions that you can do. So you don't have to know everything. So we're at the bottom of page nine if you're working around with me. And one thing that I will say that's very helpful is that if you know how the blend modes relate to one another then you're helping yourself not have to take guesses. O.K. so what I mean by that is if you know that the darken modes are the opposite of the lighten modes then you've done yourself a favor, O.K.. If you know that multiply is the opposite of screen which it is then you've done yourself a favor. That's all based on math. So if you do the math to it they'll say O.K. this is the opposite this is how we do it. The contrast modes are reduced strength variations of a combination of darken and lighten modes. So basically if you take the second to the top multiply right and you take the second to the top of screen then overlay and soft light are working with multiply and screen. O.K. now I know that's hard to remember. I don't even remember that. I'm sitting here and I've all my life I've had to remember that I don't remember that now blah blah blah. But I did create a little chart for you guys. That I think is very helpful. That's in the workbook. Phyllis is like, "Thank you so much." You're welcome. (laughing) That kind of goes into all of that so you don't have to remember. Please hold onto this chart because for example, if you really want to know what vivid light does I'm gonna tell you in my little example here that vivid light produces an extreme result similar to allure opacity hard mix O.K.. So when you go to guess you don't have to guess anymore. You can go O.K. she just told me that if I did hard mix I can either do hard mix or I can do vivid light. Hard mix is a reduction. Vivid light is a hard mix reduction. O.K. that's why you have that chart now and you don't have to guess. Like I said at the beginning hard mix is an Andy Warhol effect. That's what I call it. I've never seen someone say O.K. let's do the Andy Warhol effect now on a blend mode. No it's not it's just hard mix. But if you reduce it down it's gonna look pretty and if you don't wanna if you reduce it down and it still doesn't look pretty then use a vivid light and go from there.

Class Description

Scrapbooking is the experience of pulling together disparate elements of your life and creating stories that could never otherwise exist. And yet scrapbooking in the physical medium still limits your creative scope to what exists in the real world. Digital scrapbooking removes that barrier. By mastering the practice of compositing your personal photos, you can build fantastical, entirely impossible scenes around your favorite subject material.

Join Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel for this intermediate-level class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to develop and digitally sketch a theme for the page.
  • How to find and gather complementary photos for the fantasy theme.
  • How to use graphic design principles to improve the overall aesthetic of the final page.

Fantasy composites are difficult digital effects to create, and require the confident use of a photo editor. Tiffany will walk you through implementing the right kinds of blend modes and adjustment layers for different compositing results. You’ll learn her tips and techniques for creating quality selections and extractions, and applying them to your composited photos. Add new dimensions to your scrapbooking practice. Transform the things you love, and send them into worlds that exist only in your imagination.

Purchase to get the in-depth Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers workbook. The workbook includes step-by-step instructions on digitizing media, altering elements in Photoshop, and so much more!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blending Practice Files

Cosmic Girl Working Files

Exclusive Bonus for Students

Outter Space Papers

Tiny Hero Working Files


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I was in Tiffany's Mixed Media class and was also lucky enough to be in this class. Tiffany is an AWESOME instructor and well organized. Her Mixed Media class was a great building block for this class. The class is well worth the money--well organized workbook and other great bonuses. If you want to take your scrapbooking to the next artistic level, I highly recommend Tiffany's two classes at CreativeLivel.

a Creativelive Student

Great course with easy to understand ways of blending more than one photo together for a great composite layout. Excellent materials and workbooks.. Thanks Tiffany for a wonderful class! - Christa (cfile)

E.L. Bl/Du

I think Tiffany is good at explaining it so those who arent pro photgraphers can start at the basics to learn photoshop. I really liked watching this even tho my vision is in another direction, I like how she explains how to get there in photoshop. She makes it not so scary to jump in. She is clever mom too, every parent wants their own kids to be a star and she surely did that. What a neat thing to "scrapbook" the photos. I liked learning adjustment layers, would like more in curves too. But great place to start out in ps. I recommend if your lost in PS.