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Layer Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 5 of 5

Hue, Saturation, and Color Modes

Ben Willmore

Layer Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

5. Hue, Saturation, and Color Modes


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2 Multiply Mode Duration:15:29
3 Screen Mode Duration:14:08
4 Hard Light Mode Duration:14:54

Lesson Info

Hue, Saturation, and Color Modes

All right, now let's see if we can figure out the last section of Blending Modes. The last section is right down here. And it's Hue, Saturation, Color and Luminosity. So, Hue means basic color. That means I'm gonna take the basic color that I put on this layer, and I'm gonna apply it to what's underneath. And, so what those Modes do is they divide your picture into three parts. And that is Hue, Saturation and Brightness. Where, to describe any color in your picture, you could describe it as a combination of those three qualities. You can say, the hue of that trailer is red. The saturation of that trailer, meaning how colorful it is, is high, and the brightness is what ever the brightness is. But those three qualities. When I set this menu to the choice called Hue, then whatever I put on this layer is only gonna change the hue of what's underneath. It will not be able to change the other two qualities. You won't be able to change how saturated things are and it won't be able to change h...

ow bright things are. So I could click on my foreground color right now and choose, let's say blue. I'll grab my paint brush and I'm gonna paint. And it's gonna change just the hue. Meaning just the basic color of what's underneath. But, it's not gonna be able to modify the saturation or the brightness. Which means if I paint over where the window is, the window is very dark and that's part of brightness, it can't change that. The window doesn't have much color, which means the saturation's low. It won't be able to change that. It'll just be able to change the basic color of what ever shows up in there. And so, I can come over here and try to change the color of this. You could use any tool, you don't have to be painting. Let's say I went to the gradient tool. And in the gradient tool I came in and chose one of the gradients that had all sorts of colors in it. Here let's make one. Let's make a trailer that's got a rainbow of color. I'm gonna click near the left side. I'm gonna drag towards the right side and unfortunately it's gonna apply to the background too but you can see the various colors going across. Hold on, I've got this in Multiply modes, if anything else is weird in here. Okay, there we go. It's applying to the wood as well. All I have to do is mask it so it's not affecting that. But we can change the basic color of an object. Got a blue truck you want to be red? This is how you do it. I'm gonna create a new layer again and this time I'm gonna paint once again. And I can paint with the same color. And what I'm gonna do in this case, whoops I'm in the gradient tool, I want to be in the paint brush. Okay, is paint across things. And this time I'm gonna try something that is called Saturation. Saturation means, make the image underneath just as colorful as what I'm painting with. Well that's not that useful here 'cause if I choose Saturation it's not gonna change the basic color. And it's not gonna change the brightness of what's underneath. It's only going to change how colorful it is. So suddenly when I paint, I painted with a relatively colorful color. And so colors that were in the wheel that were so dark that it was, or so less saturated that you could hardly see it, really come out. And it doesn't actually shift the color of anything. So it's like, when is that useful? Well one thing it can be useful for, I'll select all and hit Delete to remove the paint that's in there, is if I paint with a shade of gray. If I paint with a shade of gray it takes all the color out. Because it's trying to make the image underneath just as colorful as what I'm painting with. And what I'm painting with has no color. So if you wanted to paint in areas being black and white, you could. One method of doing so would be to create a new layer, set it to Saturation Mode and paint with any shade of gray. Doesn't matter which one. As long as it's a shade that doesn't have any color. There's no blueish or yellowish or orangeish in there. Then we have another blending mode in here, and it is called Color. Now Color is a combination of two other blending modes. It will apply both the hue and the saturation together. And so let's see if we what we can use it for. Well what if I had an image that was black and white? Here I'm just gonna choose Desaturate to get this image to not have any color. Whoops, that's an empty layer we've got to work in the layer underneath. There we go. And so now in this empty layer above I'm gonna put some paint. It's in normal mode so it just obscures your view of what's underneath. You might think that the mode called Hue would work, but it won't. Because remember this divides your image into three components: Hue, saturation and brightness. And when you're in Hue mode you're only applying one of those pieces. And it makes the image just as colorful as it was before, just as bright or dark as it was before. Well this image was black and white. If I choose Saturation, it's not gonna do it. It's only when I choose Color. Color means apply both the basic color that's in this layer and how colorful it is. And therefore the only thing that's picked up is what's underneath is the brightness. And so therefore I can use this to colorize black and white pictures. I just prolly want to be more careful with the colors that I choose. And so that is Color mode. The last mode in here is called Luminosity. And that means only allow this layer to change the brightness that's underneath, make it so it takes on the brightness of what I'm painting with. So if we look for something where that might be useful. Let's see. Let's look at a couple examples, that, and one other. All right here I want to apply an adjustment. I'm gonna come in and go to Curves. And in Curves I'm gonna darken this picture. It doesn't matter that I'm using Curves. It could be Brightness of Contrast Levels. Anything that darkens. When you darken a picture, you're going find that the image becomes more colorful. Well I wasn't trying to make it more colorful. That just happens without my wanting it to. Well if you want to you can change the blending mode of an adjustment layer. And you can change it to the choice called Luminosity. And that means allow this adjustment to only affect the brightness. Do not allow it to affect the color at all. Therefore it can't make the image more colorful, and it can't change the color of what's in the picture. So if I turn this off and on, now I'm darkening but it's different because if I were to change this back to normal, watch the colors, you see how much more colorful they are? So when I set it to Luminosity I can darken without shifting or making the image more colorful. Another example of an issue. Here you notice where the light is coming through here. I can see a pink glow on the side here. Or kind of magenta-ish, little purpleish here. And over here a little kinda purple-blue. Well I want to create a brand new empty layer. Grab my paint brush tool. And all I'm gonna do is take a color that's in the image where I don't see that glow. Let's say right in here. And I'm just gonna paint over that. Take a color that's over here, you can do that when you're in the paint brush by option clicking. That means, let me use the eyedropper tool. Just for the length of time you have option held down. So if you're in the normal paint brush tool, option-clicking, which is alt clicking in Windows, allows you to grab a color out of your picture. So I'll do that. Now I'm gonna come in here and say Color. Let that apply to the color that's underneath or I could set it to potentially Hue. But do you see how there I was trying to get rid of those colorful issues. So when you end up going to the Blending mode menu. You notice you have this long list of choices. It's less important to know what individual modes do. It's more important to know why are they grouped together and what's unique about each. In this list up at the top is an odd mode, you rarely used called Dissolve. That makes it so things cannot be partially see through. Instead they'll either be completely showing up or completely disappearing in any area that looked as if it was partially see through, gets this kind of dissolved look. Below that we have a section of darkening modes. In those, white disappears. It's known as being neutral. And so anything that's white completely goes away. Anything that's darker than white has the potential of darkening my picture. Multiply mode acts like ink. It's a good one to remember. The next mode down in there, it can only brighten your picture. And in those, black disappears. Anything brighter than black has the potential of brightening your picture. And Screen Mode acts like light. So if you remember that you kind of get a general mental picture of how those work. The next section down combines Darken and Brighten modes. 50% gray disappears. It's what's known as neutral. Anything brighter than 50% gray takes on one of those lightening modes. Anything darker than 50% gray takes on one of the darkening modes. And so in there, Hard Light mode acts like light if it's brighter than 50% gray and ink if it's darker. The next section of modes compares the layer you're working on to what's under it and shows you where it's different. With the choice of Difference, it shows you that it's black. And if you try the other choices like Exclusion, you'll find more gray showing up. But it's still comparing the layers and showing you where they're different. Then finally the bottom set of blending modes ends up dividing your image into three pieces. And that is Hue, which means basic color. Saturation, which means how colorful. And Brightness, which is how bright or dark something is. And it applies only one or two of those qualities from the layer you're working on. And it grabs the rest from what's underneath. So the one in there called Color is the one that applies two. It applies both hue and saturation. You're gonna find this menu, not only at the top of the layers panel, you'll also find it when you're in certain tools. You'll also find it when you're applying layer styles like Drop Shadow or Bevel and Emboss. And so don't think of it as just being a feature of your layers panel. It's anytime you have a piece that you want to apply to something underneath and you want it to interact with it in a unique way. That's Blending Modes.

Class Description


  • Change the color of any object
  • Apply Textures
  • Create Dodge & Burn Layers
  • Understand why the menu is divided into specific groupings
  • Apply real-world uses for most modes


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)



Loved this class! The instructor is very clear, direct, and instructive. Doesn't waste time. Highly recommended!