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Screen Mode

Lesson 3 from: Layer Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

3. Screen Mode

Next Lesson: Hard Light Mode

Lesson Info

Screen Mode

Well, now we're gonna use the opposite of Multiply mode. Well, that means we're gonna use the opposite of ink. Ink can only darken things. That means the opposite of ink would be something that could only brighten something. And there's only one thing I can think of that no matter what will brighten something, and that is light. So the Blending Mode that acts like light is called Screen Mode. Remember, I didn't name 'em, I wouldn't have chosen these names, but Screen Mode acts like light. So imagine we have the image that's underneath being projected using light. Like you got a projector you watch your movie with, its projecting on a wall. Then you take a second projector, and in that second projector, you load this image and you shine them both down to the same screen, so this goes right over the other one. Well think about what that would do. If you're using a projector, how much light would that projector put out to create what's over here, what's black? It would try to put out none...

. And that as you get brighter than black, it would put out a little bit more light, little bit more light, a bunch of light and once you get over here, we put out so much light that it would overtake whatever's on the screen already. So let's set this to Screen Mode and see what's happening. In Screen Mode, black disappears. It is only things that are brighter than black that have the potential of brightening your picture. And so I think of Screen Mode as the opposite of Multiply. It acts like light. So let's see if we can figure out a few uses for Screen Mode. Well, first here, I have some lightning and also I should mention, we're gonna use the other modes that are grouped in with it. We have some lightning, I think we'd be good. Here we have some fireworks, that would be good. Let's just open a few of these. I wanna combine this image of fireworks with this image of the Eiffel Tower. If you ever want to quickly load more than one image into Photoshop, select them here in Bridge, or if you use Adobe Lightroom, you can do it there too. In Bridge, go to the Tools menu, choose Photoshop, and then choose load files into Photoshop layers. If on the other hand you organize your pictures using Adobe Lightroom, there is not a Tools menu instead, there's a photos menu and the sub menu is called the Edit in. So photos, Edit in and then you'd find these choices including load files into Photoshop layers. That's gonna give you a brand new document in Photoshop, and you should end up with one layer for each of the images. I'm surprised that the appearance of this layer though because it does not look like the picture I was opening. So I'm a little confused. Let me see if I can reopen that separately. If you look at this image, that's what the layer should look like. I'm just gonna double click on it and I'll choose Open image, it's raw file. And I'll guess I'll drag that one over. I'm not sure why it ended up looking the way it did. There it is. Usually if you load files into Photoshop layers, it shouldn't change the appearance of those layers and I'm not certain why it did here, the Blending Mode was set to normal. And that's the first time I can remember things just looking odd when they shouldn't have. Anyway, somehow you get those images together in a single file usually load files into Photoshop layers is bulletproof but in this case, so first time I've ever seen it produce an unpredictable result. All right, so if in Screen Mode, it acts like light, what do we have here with fireworks, there's just light. As long as the background surrounding it out here is black then black disappears in Screen Mode, so that shouldn't even show up. But we should get all of this fireworks. Now the problem is down at the bottom, we have some extra information and if it's that all brighter than black, that is going to end up being used. So all I'm gonna do is grab my paintbrush tool, and I'm gonna paint with black. And I'm just gonna paint across this bottom portion where it's not fireworks. And since black disappears, that will be ignored now. Then I'm gonna change the Blending Mode in this layer down here to Screen Mode. And now it just combined with the image that's underneath the areas that were black just simply disappeared. Anything brighter than black is brightening this picture. And so I'm gonna act as if that fireworks was being launched from the tower, maybe from this upper level, that's here. Put it right about there. Now the only thing you have to be careful with here is in Screen Mode, anything brighter than black will brighten my picture and therefore if that background is not black, instead it's a dark shade of gray, it's going to lighten the picture. And so if I were to move it over where you could see the edge of the picture, you might be able to see an edge where it's no longer brightening the background. If that was the case, I don't think it is in this case, I would adjust that layer using Levels. And this time I would bring in the upper left slider. The upper left slider forces areas to black, and I'd bring it in until the background became fully black. Now you can try to use other Blending Modes that are found in here and you'll get different results. If I use Lighten mode, that means only allow the areas that are brighter than what's underneath to show up. And so I'll get a slightly different result. If you look at where the tower is bright, there might be portions of the tower that are brighter than the fireworks. In a Lighten mode, those areas would no longer be covered up. I think, I actually prefer Lighten mode in this case, because it gives me a darker background for my fireworks. I could also try Color Dodge, not quite into that one. Here Linear Dodge, and Lighter Color. So for me in this case, I like Lighten mode. Let's use this on some other images. Just closing out what we got here. I'm gonna come up here to some fireworks. All right now fireworks, we just did fireworks, this is lightning man. I'm gonna select all these and let's hope that load files into Photoshop layers will act a little better this time, 'cause I want it just to look like those images and simply load them into separate layers. If you look at my Layers panel, you'll see our result. Well, what if I want it to look like there's a lot more lightning than there was? Well, if I turn off the top layer, look at the tree line that's there and notice that it moved and that's because I was shooting handheld. I was not on a tripod. It'd be much better if I would have been on a tripod. I'm gonna select all these layers. I got the top layer already selected, I'll hold Shift and click on the bottom layer. And I wanna get the tree line to line up in every image, if at all possible. To do so, I'll select the layers, go to the Edit menu, and there's a choice called Auto-Align Layers. It'll ask me for options, but I'll just use Auto and click OK. And that's gonna look for things for a content that looks similar in each layer and try to line them up. And therefore my tree line will hopefully be more consistent. So if I turn these off one at a time, you see the tree lines in the same position. Then I wanna get more lightning in there. So all I'm gonna do is change the blend mode of the top layer, and I'm gonna change it to the choice called Lighten. I'm not gonna change it to Screen Mode because Screen Mode would take the brightness of the sky however much light was in it and add it to the light that's underneath, doubling up how bright that area is. But when I use Lighten mode, it's just comparing the layer I'm working on to what's underneath. And if any area is brighter, that's what shows up. So in here I'm gonna choose Lighten mode for each of these layers. And you can even select multiple layers at one time. Here, I'll click on the top layer, hold Shift, click on the bottom layer, then change them all to Lighten mode. Now because I was shooting handheld, I'll have to crop this image to finish it off. So I'll grab my crop tool, and I'll pull it in till I see the edges here. Press Return or Enter. And there's a few like right over here that are getting cut off 'cause that was the edge of the picture. I could figure out what layer is that oops, didn't mean to use that tool again. I can figure out what layer is that just by glancing in my Layers panel, look on the right edge of the layers and I can see which one doesn't go all the way across. It's this one, I might click on that layer and then add a Layer Mask. We have a whole session on Layer Masks if you want to learn about them. But a Layer Mask is just going to temporarily hide a portion of a layer wherever I paint with black. So I could come in here then and just try to hide part of that layer so you don't see that distinct edge. So now let's compare the look of a single layer to a look of all of these layers put together in Lighten mode. In your Layers panel, there is a trick for hiding all but one layer. And what it is, is you put your mouse over the eyeball icon for the layer you wanna keep. You hold on the Option key on a Mac, that's Alt in Windows and click on that eyeball icon. That means hide everything but this. So there's my single capture. And then I'm gonna option click the eyeball a second time, and there's all of them put together. And so oftentimes, it's hard to end up getting a lot of lightning in a single shock, 'cause it happens so fast and there might be a huge pause before another lightning strike happens. If you do a completely long exposure like a half hour long, the problem is, your picture ends up being noisy. But if you take individual shots whenever a lightning occurs, and then combine them like I just did, you can end up with a lot of lightning, but very little noise. And so that would be an advantage. But that is Lighten mode. Another example of Lighten mode would be here I have a waterfall shot in Iceland. I'm gonna take all of those images, load them into layers. And what I wanna do is make it look as if there's a lot more water going down the waterfall. And to accomplish that, all I'm gonna do is use Lighten mode because if you think about it, and it looks like a few of these images weren't adjusted the same, but if you look at my waterfall, and you see where this white area is right here, where the water is kinda concentrating, well in the next shot, it's not gonna to be in the exact same spot where we have that thicker white water, instead it might be in this area. And if it is, if I put it on top and put it in Lighten mode, it'll be brighter than its background, and therefore it'll fill in. So if I turn this layer off and go to the next one, you see the white waters is in a different position. So all I'm gonna do here, is I'm gonna select a bunch of these layers, and I'm gonna set them to Lighten mode. And now let's compare that to a single exposure. There's one, I'll zoom up on my waterfall. And there's multiple. Do you see how it's starting to fill in some of the water. Well, and that was only a few of the layers. I have a whole bunch of layers in here I could select, oops. And if the Blending Mode menu is grayed out, it means one of your layers has its eyeball turned off. So I had to turn on a few. There we go, look at how much water now is coming down that waterfall. It's absurd amount compared to a single image. And you could just toggle each one off and decide which ones you wanna use. But by taking multiple photographs, we have the versatility of being able to make it look like there's more water. We could also do the opposite. If I wanna make it look like there's less water, then why not set them all to Darken mode. The only problem there is a few of the exposure is darker so it's gonna darken the background. I might hide the ones above. And I'm just gonna set it to Darken mode. And now it looks like very little water is coming down. There's Lighten mode, there's Darkened mode. I often use Darkened mode with waterfalls because if there's a lot of mist coming off the waterfall and its obscuring your view of something on the sides, I'll end up using Darkened mode which will break through that mist and allow the walls that are on the sides of the waterfall to be more prominent. And so I could actually have two sets of these layers. One in Screen Mode that I put just where there not Screen Lighten mode, where I put just where the waterfall is in a whole nother set in Darkened mode that I use on the sides. Then let's figure out other Blending Modes that combine those two categories we've talked about so far. So let's open up a few images and I'm gonna put a simple layer above this just like we had before with a gradient. And let's review here the first two general sections in Darken mode. There was a neutral color and it was white, 'cause you can't darken anything using white. And so in all the modes grouped together with dark and white disappears and every mode in there can only darken your picture. The opposite of that are the modes found in one section down. Those are the Lighten modes and in those modes black disappears. Anything brighter than black has the potential of brightening your picture.

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