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How to Use Photoshop Blend Modes Like a Pro

Lesson 4 of 9

Normal & Darken Blending Modes

Jesús Ramirez

How to Use Photoshop Blend Modes Like a Pro

Jesús Ramirez

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Lesson Info

4. Normal & Darken Blending Modes

Lesson Info

Normal & Darken Blending Modes

So we're gonna start with the first group, which is the easiest group of all. It's the normal group or normal category. And I already sort of explained how that works. Basically, there's no blend applied to the layer, you just have to use the opacity slider. And there's two blending modes in that category, the normal blending mode, which we already saw, and one called dissolve. For the rest of this class, I'm going to use these graphics, which include a luminosity graphic and a color graphic, just so you can get an idea of how things are blending, when we apply a blending mode to these layers. In some cases, I'm actually gonna show an example of how you can use that particular blending mode, or a blending mode in that group, with like an actual project, so you really see how it works on a project, not necessarily the theory behind them. But in this case, it's very easy to understand. We have this luminosity layer, the first two blending modes, normal, as you saw earlier, if we bring do...

wn the opacity, the layer below shows up. Dissolve does the same thing. When you change the blending mode to dissolve, nothing happens. That's because you have to use the opacity slider for the layers below to show. And the difference with the normal and dissolve blending mode is that, when you reduce the opacity on dissolve, you get this dither pattern effect. So that's basically what the blending mode does, it creates that noisy pattern when you reduce the opacity. But again, these two blending modes, by default, do not blend pixels until you reduce the opacity and fill. Fill will give you the same result in most cases. We're gonna talk about the exceptions a little later on. And, just so that you can see the opacity with the color graphic there. So, very simple, normal, just reduce the opacity and you blend the layers. Now we're gonna talk about the next category, which is darken. As the first blending mode implies, this category makes the result colors darker than the pixels below. So if you wanted to make something darker, this is what you would do. You already saw one example of that with the texture layer. And what I'm gonna do now is actually apply a black and white adjustment layer, to make this into a black and white image. I'm going to clip it to the layer below, so that it only affects the texture layer. And then, on this texture, I'm going to change it again to multiply, just to apply a different effect and I can also apply a levels adjustment layer, clip it to the layer below, and it just creates a different effect. This time, I removed the color but I keep the texture. Notice how the pixels are blending. If I change it back to normal, it makes it very clear that the white pixels are disappearing, so that's what all the blending modes in the darken category, from darken to darker color, they all make white pixels invisible, bright pixels are barely noticeable, and dark pixels are what shows up, black is black. So another blending mode in that category that I like using, multiply is probably the one that I use the most in that category, second would probably be this one called darker color. It's very simple, it works very, the idea behind it is very simple. You have two layers, it looks at the luminance values of the layer or the pixels, and whichever pixel is brighter is kept. Notice that there is no real blend, it's just pure blue here, or pure gray. It simply looks at which pixel is brighter. And if you don't know what I mean by that, let me open up the color picker here. And when I select a color, they'll have a brightness value right here, hue, saturation, brightness, brightness of 43%. So it simply looks at the pixels and whichever one has the highest percentage, or in this case, lowest percentage, because we're trying to make them darker, a brightness of zero is black, a brightness of 100 is white, you know? So it looks at both pixels, the one that has the lowest percentage stays and the one that has the highest percentage disappears. So that's what happens here. So those are the two blending modes that I use a lot in the darken category, just to make things darker, selectively darker.

Class Description

Blend Modes are perhaps the most powerful and misunderstood features in Adobe® Photoshop®. In this information-packed class, Jesus Ramirez will demystify these seemingly scary options and show you Blend Modes in a whole new light. You’ll discover exactly what Blend Modes are, how they work, and how you can find the right one to use for your project. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on several real-life examples so you can learn how to use Blend Modes in your retouching, compositing and other creative projects.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

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Double Exposure Template

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CreativeLive has many excellent instructors for whom I have nothing but high praise, and some have classes or segments on blending modes, but Photoshop Week 2017 was the first time that I finally "got" blend modes. Kudos to Jesus Ramirez for covering a lot of ground. In this class, Jesus explained the rationale behind how blend modes are grouped and how each group affects pixels. His methodology - applying each blend mode to the same photo, blended first with a luminance chart, and then with color wheels - was very effective at illustrating the impact of each blend mode - a visual representation of what each blend mode does accompanied by an introductory explanation of the algorthm. He also illustrated how he had used the effect in his own work, provided useful advice, and left room for our own creativity to take flight. This one-hour class has something for beginner to advanced Photoshop users alike. Well done!


wow! Amazing!

a Creativelive Student

I would recommend it for beginners but when it said "like a pro" I assumed it would be more advanced. It covered the groups with mainly one example from each group. What I was looking for was some knowledge of all the modes in a group and the relationships. I know that lighten lightens and so does screen but what is the difference and when to apply each. Same with color dodge and linear dodge, and all the various members of all the groups. Otherwise I am doomed to merely "scroll through and pick one I like".