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Layer Blending Modes

Lesson 10 from: Adobe Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Layer Blending Modes

Lesson 10 from: Adobe Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

10. Layer Blending Modes

Explore the layer blending modes menu, which you’ll find throughout Adobe Photoshop. Use this handy tool to create all sorts of eye-catching effects.
Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is layer blending modes in Adobe Photoshop CC.


  1. Where can you find the blending mode menu in Photoshop?

    The blending mode menu can be found in various areas of Photoshop, including the Options bar in the painting tools, the Layers panel, and in filters and other tools.

  2. What is the purpose of blending modes?

    Blending modes determine how a brush or layer interacts with the layers underneath it, affecting transparency, brightness, and color.

  3. What is the difference between Lighten mode and Screen mode?

    Lighten mode shows only the parts of a layer that are brighter than what's underneath, while Screen mode adds the light from a layer to the light of the layer below.

  4. How can blending modes be used to reduce or remove certain elements from a photo?

    By using blending modes like Darken or Multiply, you can selectively show only the darker parts of a layer, effectively reducing or removing unwanted elements.

  5. What is the purpose of the Hard Light blending mode?

    Hard Light is a combination of Multiply and Screen modes, where lighter parts of a layer act like light and brighter parts act like ink, resulting in a high-contrast effect.

  6. How can blending modes be used with textures and patterns?

    Blending modes can be used to apply textures and patterns to images, by setting the blending mode to Overlay or Soft Light. Adjusting the opacity can control the intensity of the effect.

  7. What are the comparative modes and when are they useful?

    Comparative modes, such as Difference mode, compare two layers and show where they are different. This can be useful for aligning images or finding repeating patterns.

  8. What do the HSL modes in Photoshop do?

    The HSL modes divide the image into three components: hue, saturation, and luminosity. These modes can be used to affect the color and brightness of an image based on these components. The topic of the lesson is blending modes in Photoshop.


  1. What are the three components of color in blending modes?

    The three components are hue, saturation, and luminosity.

  2. What does the hue component represent?

    Hue represents the basic color of an image, such as red, green, or yellow.

  3. What does the saturation component represent?

    Saturation represents how colorful an image is, ranging from vivid to almost black and white.

  4. What does the luminosity component represent?

    Luminosity represents the brightness or darkness of an image.

  5. How can blending modes be applied to images?

    Blending modes can be used to apply specific components of color to an image, such as changing the hue while keeping the saturation and luminosity the same.

  6. What is the purpose of the Color blending mode?

    The Color blending mode is used to add color to a black and white image while maintaining the brightness levels.

  7. How can the blending mode be changed for adjustment layers?

    The blending mode for adjustment layers can be changed to control how the adjustment affects the color and brightness of the image.

  8. What is the Saturation blending mode typically used for?

    The Saturation blending mode is primarily used to increase or decrease the overall colorfulness of an image.

  9. What is the trick to scroll through all the blending modes?

    Holding down the Shift key and pressing the Plus or Minus key on the keyboard can cycle through the blending modes.

  10. What is the purpose of the Facebook group mentioned in the lesson?

    The Facebook group allows students to ask questions, share their work, and interact with other members of the class.

Lesson Info

Layer Blending Modes

Welcome to another episode of Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide. We're in week two and here are our sessions for this week. Today we're darn near half way done. Not quite, but darn near half done with our full month of exploring Photoshop. Today's topic is blending modes. Blending modes is a menu we'll find in Photoshop in many different areas that has choices like Screen, Multiply, Hard Light, Soft Light, just a long list of different blending modes. That's what we're gonna explore. Let's jump into Photoshop so we can spend as much time as is practical learning how to use this great feature. The blending mode menu, as I've mentioned, is in many different areas of Photoshop so let's first take a look at where we might find it and then we'll start exploring what it can be used for. It's really almost infinite what you can do with it. We can only scratch the surface here but I wanna try to give you a pretty good foundation and knowledge about it so that you can feel comfortable using it a...

ny time you need to. The first place that you're gonna find it is if you're in any painting tool. In your painting tool if you were to go to the top of your screen in the Options bar, right here is a little popup menu that's usually set to Normal and that's your blending modes. If you click there you'll find a long list of choices. These choices determine how the brush you're about to paint with will interact with the layer you're painting on. Like how will it interact with what's already on that layer. You'll also find the same menu at the top of your Layers panel right up here. If I click there we'll find these same choices available. This controls how does the entirety of the contents of this layer interact with the layers that are under it. Is there some way that it analyzes those layers underneath and does something special with them. You're gonna find it in many other areas. You're gonna try to fill something and you'll probably find it. You might be in a filter and find it or other tools. It's throughout Photoshop. We're gonna concentrate on using it just with our layers to keep things simple. Let's take a look at what we can do. First I'm just gonna choose a brush and make sure it has a soft edge. Let's show you what it would usually look like when I paint with this brush. Oh, I gotta get out a normal brush here. I'll get one with a nice soft edge. Take me a moment to get into the normal ones. There we go. With a normal soft edged brush this is what you get. I'm gonna change the blending mode of this layer and it's gonna make it so that that paint is gonna act differently. Before I do this, since I'm gonna do it on its own layer I'm gonna create a brand new empty layer to put my paint on. So that's what I have right here, empty layer. I'm just gonna paint a few strokes. Then I'm gonna change the blending mode to the first choice. It's called Dissolve. What Dissolve is gonna do is it's gonna take the contents of this layer and any area where it's partially see-through it won't be able to be see-through at all. It's either gonna make the layer so it completely shows up where it's completely opaque, it completely obscures your view of what's underneath, or completely disappears and it can't have anything in between. It's still gonna have to simulate the look of this edge fading out though and it's gonna do it by making it dissolve out. You see how now if I were to zoom up we have only solid colored pixels that are in there. Zoom up here so you can see the whole thing. We're still trying to simulate that look of it fading out but we're doing it using pixels that are completely showing up or completely disappearing. That's what Dissolve does. Dissolve is a blending mode that I use the least. I use that once every 10 years, that kind of thing. There are some interesting uses for it. I'll give you a tip about it and that is if you end up doing things like lowering the opacity of the entire layer, usually that would make the contents of the layer show up less and less. In this case it's gonna dissolve out so it becomes more and more speckley like that. The problem is that if we tried to do something to this layer like apply a filter to it or anything else, it does the filtering first and then it applies it in Dissolve mode. If you want this to be there on a more permanent basis where it's not just an effect attached to that layer, instead it's actually as if you painted in every little one of those specks, what you can do is create a brand new layer, put it underneath, and then take this layer and just say Merge Down. Meaning combine these two layers together. And when it does it has to maintain the same look that we have here, but it's gonna do it on a layer that doesn't have a blending mode. So just watch. I'll choose Layer, Merge Down, and now we have the exact same look but if you look over here it's in Normal mode which means this does not contain partially transparent pixels that just have a mode attached to it. Instead it actually deleted those parts where the pixels aren't showing up and therefore I can do things like come over here and maybe I wanna do a Motion Blur to make it so they're, here, I'm running a filter called Motion Blur so that I can take those pixels and kind of spread 'em out horizontally. I wouldn't be able to do that if that was on the original layer because the original layer doing a Motion Blur would just make the edges the tiniest bit softer but it would look pretty much exactly the same as the original because of that mode. Let's throw away that layer because Dissolve mode is the mode that I use the least and I bet you most other people use it the least. So let's not waste too much time. The main time I might wanna use it is if I add a drop shadow or a glow behind something and I want it to have a different look, I could make it have the dissolved look. Now here we have all these other blending modes and you'll notice that they're divided up into sections. Do you see the horizontal lines that divide 'em up into sections? That's because each blending mode that is contained within a particular section has some common qualities. If you learn what those common qualities are then it's not necessarily important that you understand exactly what every single mode does. If you mainly understand what's common about all of the modes in there, you know enough to be able to use them. Let's take a look. This section in here are known as the darken modes because they're only able to darken your picture. You won't find your picture getting brighter when you use any of these. Let's see when we might be able to use that. In this particular photograph here I took this in Iceland and in Iceland there are some volcanic areas and some just geothermal things where there can be steam coming out of the ground. What I did is I took more than one photograph here so that steam moved into different locations in each shot. What I wanna do is reduce the amount of steam showing up. The way I'm gonna do that is I'm gonna have Photoshop compare these layers. If you were to look at this particular layer and compare it to this one and say where is this top layer darker than the layer that's underneath? Well if you look, let's say right here, do you see this spot here on the top layer? I might actually reverse these to make it true what I'm just saying here. Look right here. Do you see some steam in that area? If you compare that to the layer above there is no steam. I'm gonna tell it to compare these two layers and only take the parts of the layer above that are darker than what's underneath. If anything in the layer above is brighter than what's underneath just make it disappear. The only parts that show up are what's darker than what's underneath. I do that by simply changing this menu to the mode called Darken. Watch that section and we'll see if I turn this layer off and on aren't we reducing the amount of steam in that area? Now I'm gonna go to the next layer up and here, do you see this whole area over in this section where we have steam? But once I turn on the layer above there's no steam there, right? Doesn't that make this darker because the steam was lighting it up? I'm gonna set this layer also to Darken mode so it only uses the areas that are darker than what's underneath. When I do that's gonna help us further reduce the steam that was there. I'll go to the next layer up and all I'm gonna do is repeat the process over and over again. I don't know that I took enough photographs to completely get rid of the steam, but I should have taken enough here to reduce it quite a bit. Let's compare what it looks like with only one photograph in here. See all that steam? Then let's see how much of the steam we were able to reduce by putting each one of these layers above in Darken mode. See that? Now if I was patient enough and maybe I sat there for another five minutes or something the wind might have changed directions a little bit and I might have been able to get it so this portion in here also didn't have steam in a shot. The steam might have been going straight up 'cause the wind changed. Therefore I'd be able to do it with enough shots where the steam could completely disappear. I just need more patience to take the shots. That make sense? I'm gonna close these. Apply to all. Just had more than one picture open there. So that's why we'd possibly take multiple shots. You could do this at Yellowstone National Park. They have those big pools of water with the really cool colorful growth in it. But all the steam is blocking your view of what's really in there. You just need the patience to wait until the wind changes in different directions where you can capture it with the steam going different ways. You might be able to completely get rid of that. It'd be pretty cool. Let's see about doing the opposite. Here I have a picture of some lightning. And I have another picture of some lightning taken at the same location. I'm gonna combine these two images together. I'm just gonna use my Move tool, I'll drag it over to the other file, drag down. I notice that the bottom of the image, you see it's shifting when I hide this layer, just the treeline is changing? I'm not sure if Photoshop will be good at this because of how dark it is and how the lightning changes in position but I'm gonna just try it. I'll select both layers and choose Auto-Align Layers. I think we used that once before when we worked with some taxis driving across a road. Here it says it can't quite do it. What I might have to do is manually move them. We'll manually move them in a moment. What I wanna do is primarily get it so that this lightning and this lightning show up at the same time to make it look as if the storm was more fierce than it really was. How can I do that? Why can't I use the opposite of Darken mode? There's a mode in here right here called Lighten where all it does is say let's use the parts of this layer that are brighter than what's underneath. If you look at this picture what's gonna be brighter than what's underneath? Definitely where the lightning is. Let's set it to Lighten mode and now suddenly we see both streaks of lightning. See that? The only thing is down here where the treeline is I can see kind of a double image because the sky doesn't quite align. I can always use my Move tool and kind of arrow this around until it manually lines up or I could use a layer mask and just kind of paint that out so that we don't see that edge. I can take as many of these photographs of lightning as I want. Here we got a nice little strike coming down, open that up. All I'm doing is dragging it over to the other file that contains the layers. Here we are. And I'm gonna set it again to Lighten mode. Now let's turn those off and see how it build up. Here's one, two, three. This could also be fireworks. In fact fireworks are great because oftentimes I can shoot fireworks in isolation where all I have is a black sky with fireworks 'cause I can point my camera up and there's not gonna be a building or anything within that view because the fireworks are up so high in the sky. But then I can take that picture of fireworks and I can drag it on top of a wider angle view of a city, let's say, put it on top of it and set it to Lighten mode. I'm gonna keep those fireworks 'cause the fireworks will be brighter than whatever sky was in the original image and combine it, similar to what I've done here. In fact here's some fireworks. See that? Now the key to making this work though is if you wanna put the fireworks in another photograph is we just need to make sure that the sky that's out here is darker than the sky of the photo you're gonna put it into because if it's in a mode called Lighten mode and that sky's brighter than the sky of the photo you plan to put it in it would still show up. What's nice is you could always adjust this. I'd usually adjust it with levels and I would just bring in the slider that forces areas to black and say make that sky black and then it'll definitely be darker than a background. Let's see if you wanna see here I have a skyline. That's Seattle. But it was a boring night, there was no fireworks. Let's go find some fireworks. I'm gonna take these fireworks and these extra lights down here I don't need so we'll mask them out when we're done. I'm just gonna use the Move tool. I'm gonna drag this up, drag it over here into this image. Fireworks are a little on the large side so let's scale them down. I'm gonna type Command + T. Remember that's a shortcut for free transform. We used it all this month so you should get used to it. Command + T. And since this image is so big I can't see the little transformation handles that would usually be on the corners. I've mentioned before that you can go to the View menu and there is a choice called Fit on Screen. Keyboard shortcut is Command + 0. When you're transforming something that makes the transformation handles fit on screen. I'll bring this down, move it in here. Command + 0 again. I probably want that to be relatively small compared to the skyline. Then I'm just going to set this particular layer to Lighten mode. Then only the areas that are brighter than what's underneath will show up. Anything that's darker than what's underneath will completely disappear. If you look at the sky on the fireworks isn't it darker than the sky that's behind it? Just by glancing you can tell. Therefore when I'm in Lighten mode it should just go away and then I can zoom up on this and you see our fireworks. If the sky with the fireworks was not darker than what's behind it, like there's a twilight sky, it was kind of blue in the sky but the one I'm putting it on is a black sky, then what I would need to do is adjust this layer. I would just go to Image, Adjustments, Levels. In Levels the slider on the upper left forces areas to black. I would pull this in until the entire sky turned black 'cause then it would definitely be darker than what's underneath and suddenly it would just disappear 'cause we're in Lighten mode. In this case I don't think that's necessary. The only thing is if I move this layer do you see the lights at the bottom are in there? What I would end up doing is I would add a layer mask. At the bottom we have the layer mask icon. We had a whole separate session on layer mask. I click that, I grab my brush and I paint with black. If I paint with black I can hide anything in that layer and I'll hide any of those extra lights that are down there at the bottom. I'll just turn this layer off and on to make sure I got all of the extra lights. Looks to me like I did. Then I can scale and position this wherever I'd like to. Right now it's still on the large side but you get the idea. Lightning, fireworks, works great. That lightning shot, remember how blue the sky was? That blue sky would be brighten than this sky. So if I put it in there in Lighten mode I'd still see that blue sky showing up in there so I'd adjust it with levels. Just bring in that slider that forces things to black until the area around the lightning goes dark where it's dark enough where it disappears. We can easily put lightning in there, too. We can make it ridiculous, lightning all over Seattle. Then let's look at some of the other modes that are in there. Open this guy. Gonna work on a layer that's on top. This is an image that my brother created. My brother creates lamps and he made a 3D model of one of his lamps before he actually constructed it to see if it's something he'd like to actually make. In the 3D software he was able to get the glass of the bulb to show up here, but then he also rendered the little filaments lit up. For some reason they wouldn't show up when he turned on that feature in his 3D software. The only way he can get it to show up is to turn off the glass of the bulbs. For some reason he couldn't get the filament and the glass at the same time. The 3D software just wouldn't work that way. So he wanted to know if I could fix it somehow so I said, "Well, can you save it as two different pictures? "One that shows the filaments, one that shows the glass." And I said, "Sure, we can fix that in Photoshop in a few seconds." If this isn't a example that connects with you because when would you ever need to do this just think about taking pictures of stereo equipment. Let's say you're hired to take pictures of some stereo gear and it's gonna be used in a catalog, you're getting paid to shoot it and you take a picture of the stereo gear with great studio lighting where it's really nice, the highlights and everything on the stereo gear looked great, but the little display on the stereo gear is so dark that it doesn't pick up. So why not take two pictures? Why not turn all your studio lights off so you have a pitch dark room? Take a picture where all you're getting is the little digital display on the unit. Expose for it so it's looks perfect. Get it just the right brightness. The rest of the scene is black because the lights are turned off. Then you take a second picture with all your studio strobes turned on where you got a great shot of your stereo gear but you just can barely see those readouts. You put one right on top of the other and you're gonna do the equivalent to what I do here. I'm gonna take this top layer and I could set it to Lighten mode. If I did, it's only gonna take the parts that are brighter than what's underneath and keep them. These filaments should for the most part be brighter than the glass that's underneath. I'll try Lighten mode. Alright. There is another choice in here we could use, as well, and it's called Screen mode. I didn't name these. I would've used different names but Lighten mode is a pretty good name 'cause it is relatively literal. Show me only what's lighter in this layer than what's underneath. But Screen mode acts like light. Screen mode says let's add the amount of light that's in this layer to the amount of light that's on the layer above as if you did a double exposure in your camera or however much light is in one is just added to the other. If I choose Screen mode those filaments will probably get brighter. The only problem is that the middle of the model in here also gets brighter. That's because we're doubling up the amount of light that's there 'cause we had that in both of the layers. What I could do if I wanted it to only be where the filaments are is I would add a mask. If I add a mask, I don't know if you remember or not but when you click the layer mask icon usually you get a white mask. There was a trick if you wanted to get a mask that starts out with black. A black mask would hide the entirety of the layer. That was you hold down the Option key, Alt on Windows, when you click the layer mask icon. So I'll do that. Now I'm gonna paint with white only where the filament should come in. Therefore the middle part of the model won't get too bright because we're not applying it in Screen mode in those areas. This could just as easily be stereo gear with the little LED lights and the displays and all that. If you wanna see the difference I can switch between Screen mode and Lighten mode. Screen mode will almost always produce a brighter result. Sometimes it'll be the same, but otherwise it'll usually be brighter. Here's Lighten and here's Screen. Very similar concepts. Isn't it nice that they group them together? 'Cause they give you very similar end results. If you remembered back to our lightning shots, if I were to use it with the lightning shots let's see if I can go find them here, since there's a blue sky in the lightning shots that blue sky, the light that's in it in Screen mode is going to get kind of doubled up 'cause in Lighten mode we're only getting the areas that are brighter than what's underneath. In Screen mode it adds the amount of light that's in each layer together. See how much brighter the sky got? It always gives you a brighter result. Here I'd have to mask it or be more precise with my alignment on where the trees are. All that means is any time you might consider using Lighten mode you probably also wanna try Screen or at least if Lighten mode gives you too dark of an end result, then go for Screen. Let's see what else. Let's use a special mode that combines Lighten mode, it actually combines Screen mode and it's opposite, to see what we can do. I'm going to open an image and if we create a simple layer, I'll create a brand new empty layer and in that layer I'm going to put a gradient. This is not that you need to create a gradient. This is just to show you a general concept and then we'll actually figure out a good use for this. First I'm gonna come in here and show you Screen mode. That's gonna add the amount of light that's in this layer to the amount of light that would be used to make what's underneath. There's no light whatsoever over here so we'll see the original picture that's underneath in that area. Then the original picture will be getting brighter and brighter and brighter as it goes across here 'cause it's gonna add all of this light to what's underneath. That's Screen mode. You see how it's getting brighter as it goes towards the right? There is an opposite of Screen mode. I think of Screen mode as adding the amount of light in each layer. The opposite is called Multiply mode. I didn't name 'em, I wouldn't have called it Multiply. Multiply mode acts like ink. Imagine this is made out of ink. You're gonna print it on an inkjet printer, for instance. How much ink would be put down over here on the right side? None. You'd just leave the sheet of paper alone, wouldn't ya? Then here you'd add a little bit of ink. In Multiply mode it's like printing two images on top of each other with an inkjet. Print one on the sheet of paper, send the paper back through the printer again and print another picture right on top of it. That means that here we'd add more and more and more ink that would darken and darken the picture. Once we get over here we're gonna add as much black ink as we can and it's gonna make the image black. That's Multiply mode. Multiply mode, what could we use it for? What if somebody has a tattoo and I wanna transplant that tattoo from them to somebody else? I could select the tattoo, put it on its own layer, and go drag it on top of another picture. If I chose Multiply mode I'd have a problem and that is the skin that is also within that tattoo. When you choose Multiply mode it would double up with the skin on the layer below. All I would do is adjust it with Levels. There's a slider in Levels that forces areas to white. I would pull it over, pull it over until the skin disappeared and turned solid white. You can do that. Then Multiply mode would be able to transplant that. But in this case we're gonna use a filter instead of a tattoo. I'm gonna duplicate this layer. To duplicate a layer you can go to the Layer menu and choose Duplicate Layer. I don't use that command though because there are no keyboard shortcuts. If there was it would be listed on the right side. There's another command that does in general the same thing but does have a keyboard shortcut and that's the main reason I use it. And that is right here is a choice called Layer Via Copy. Do you see the keyboard shortcut? Command + J and I can remember that if I think of jumping something to a new layer. Because it's something I use so often, I use it every day, I like to get the version that has a keyboard shortcut. I'm gonna type Command + J and when I do watch my Layers panel. See how it just duplicated the layer? Command + J to duplicate. I'm gonna apply a filter to this. The filter I'm gonna use is called Find Edges. That's gonna try to find the edges of everything in my picture and draw a black line around them. What if I were to send this through an inkjet printer and print it? How much ink would be put down right in this area up here? None, right? And only where these lines are would it need to put any ink down. Then what if I already printed that on my inkjet printer and I sent it through the printer a second time and on the second pass I printed this? Then wouldn't it just print those lines on top of this thing? That would be the end result, the look of it? Let's see if we can do that. I'm gonna change the blending mode of this to Multiply. When I do, all the areas that are white should disappear because when you print with ink, how do you print white? You just don't put any ink down, right? So Multiply mode. I'll turn this layer off and on and let's see if it's doing anything. Yeah. You see those little highlights on everything as far as the dark lines go? That's all the dark lines from this top layer. If I set it back to Normal, print it on top of that image as if we're using ink. With ink, the white areas, you don't print any ink. That won't change the image. That's Multiply mode. Or it could a tattoo you copied from somebody or it could be your logo you scanned in and the white sheet of paper is in the scan, too. Set it to Multiply mode, what happens to the white sheet of paper? It disappears because how much ink would you use to print a white sheet of paper? None, as long as it's bright enough to truly be white. So we have that. Now let's try and find out about some other blending modes. There is the next section of blending modes down here. These are all interesting because they combine a blending mode from this section with a blending mode from this section. So let's see what we can do there. I'm gonna go back to having our simple image where I put a gradient on a layer. I'll just remind you of what Multiply mode would look like, remember that's like ink. See how the left side's dark? What Screen mode would look like, that's like light. Now let's combine those two together. That's one called Hard Light. I didn't name 'em. I would've used other names but Hard Light is combining Multiply and Screen together. Do you see how the one side that was being lightened before still is and the other side that was being darkened before still is. The way this works is 50% gray goes away. Anything that's lighter than 50% gray acts like it's in Screen mode which means acts like it's using light. Anything darker than 50% gray acts like it's in Multiply mode which means it acts like ink. So it's kinda weird. Let's try to figure out a use for this. This time I'm gonna duplicate that layer, Command + J, and I'm gonna use a filter again. We have a whole session on filters so we'll get into 'em in more detail but I'm gonna use one here called Emboss. That's Filter, Stylize, Emboss. I'm doing it to a copy of the layer. We still have the original underneath. When I choose Emboss do you notice the vast majority of the image looks gray? In fact, these areas out here they're exactly 50% gray. It just happens to be how that filter works where pretty much 98% of your image will be 50% gray when you're doing using it and then a few areas where it finds the edges of objects will be brightened or darkened. In this mode down here called Hard Light doesn't 50% gray just go away? And if so, wouldn't all that gray go away? Areas darker than 50% gray darken the picture as if they're using ink so that means it's gonna print all the little darker areas on top of what's underneath. Areas brighter than 50% gray act like light and so those areas, you can see, that are a little brighter they'll just brighten up the picture. If I set this to Hard Light mode, now let's zoom up on it so I can see the detail. I'll toggle this layer off and on. See how it's applying that kind of embossed look? I would have probably used lower settings if I was zoomed up. When we were zoomed out I was using kind of crude settings. I can actually get the look of that embossing without all the gray. There are many other filters that will produce 50% gray that whenever I see that I apply a filter and suddenly it looks 50% gray I'm gonna end up probably heading over to those blending modes that are in that grouping. Let's try something else. Let's go and find a texture. This could be handmade paper you took a picture of. This could be the texture of a stucco wall. It could be any kind of texture where it doesn't vary in brightness dramatically, it's just somewhat subtle. I'm gonna take that and drag it on top of my picture. I'm not sure if it's big enough. No, it's not. But I'll zoom up and we can at least look at the area that it covers. What if I took this layer, and I may have already done it, but I adjust it with Levels? In Levels when I talked about basic tonal adjustments I doubt you remember but I described the middle slider that's in Levels and the way I described it is I said it takes whatever shade is directly below it and makes it 50% gray. If you move it like this so that you have an area that used to be really dark and now you're making it 50% gray that would brighten up your picture. If you moved it like this then areas that used to be really bright, like this bright, would become 50% gray. Then we have a bar chart here that tells us which of these shades are used in our picture. If you pick any shade of gray from down here and go straight up if there's a bar in the bar chart it's in your picture. If there's not, look over here, it's nowhere to be found. The height of the bar tells you how much space each one takes up. The highest ones right there is whatever takes up the most space. Whatever brightness level takes up the most space in here. I'm gonna take this slider and move it right to the middle of that hump. That's gonna take whatever part of this texture takes up the most space, whatever brightness level is in there that takes up the most, and make it 50% gray. If I set this menu to Hard Light mode all the areas that are 50% gray, which should be the majority of this texture, will just disappear. Any area that happens to be brighter than 50% gray will brighten the image as if it's using light to do so. Any area that's darker than 50% gray will darken the image. When I set it to Hard Light mode you can see the texture being applied right to my picture. The main thing I need it to do, though, is to ensure that the texture's overall brightness is close to 50% gray so that the majority of the texture just disappears as far as you can see through it. If the texture was very dark it would be darkening the image a lot. If the texture was very bright it'd be brightening the image very much. But if the overall brightness of the texture is right around 50% gray then the overall image that's underneath won't change much in brightness. It's only where the little shadows and highlights and things are in the texture that will cause you to do that. Doesn't that look pretty cool? So we can do that. Anytime you scan a texture just put it on its own layer. You'll want to adjust it with Levels. Usually with textures you'll find one huge hump in Levels. Move the middle slider until it's right in the center of it. That makes it so it's around 50% gray. The other thing you'll wanna do is choose Image, let's see, Adjustments, and there's a choice in here called Desaturate. That means pull all the color out of your texture. Otherwise if you have a yellow texture your picture will become all yellow at the same time. But if we choose Desaturate it'll make it so your texture is grayscale, it's black and white. Therefore the color of the underlying image will not shift. Now we've explored a few of the blending modes in this top section, a few of the blending modes in the next section down, and at least one of the blending modes here. Let's revisit the fact that these are divided up into sections and why. These are all put together because they're only capable of darkening your picture and with all of them there is one particular thing that just disappears. If you're in Multiply mode where you're acting like you're using ink there's one particular color that just disappears. What color when you try to print it on an inkjet printer does it not need any ink to print? White, right? With all of these modes up here white will simply disappear. In Photoshop terminology it's known as being neutral. That means white is neutral meaning it doesn't affect things in all of these modes and they're only capable of darkening. Any time I see a huge amount of white that I don't want I'm thinking about going into any one of these modes. If I'm gonna try one mode like Darken mode, there's Darken mode, I'm gonna also try Multiply, and I'm also gonna try Color Burn, and I'm also gonna try Linear Burn, and I'm also gonna try Darker Color. Each one will give me a variation on that theme. With these modes here remember Screen mode acts like light. There's one particular color where you need no light to reproduce it. What's the absence of light? Blackness, isn't it? With all of these modes black simply disappears. The things that are brighter than black have the potential of brightening your photograph. If I'm gonna try Lighten mode I'm also gonna try Screen mode. I'm also gonna try Color Dodge. And I'm also gonna try Linear Dodge and Lighter Color. They'll all give me variations on the same theme. We don't have to know exactly the differences in every single one, we just need to know what makes them all common because then that's what sends me to a particular section of modes that I want to explore. Then these modes down here, almost all of them are a combination of the modes up here in this section and the modes down here in this section. There's one particular color that is neutral, meaning it disappears in there, and I think we learned what it was and that is if white disappears in one mode and black disappears in the other mode, if you were to mix black and white together equally you'd get gray, 50% gray. In all of these modes 50% gray goes away. Things brighter than 50% gray have the potential of brightening. Things darker than 50% gray have the potential of darkening. If I'm gonna try Hard Light mode and I don't like the end result then I'll probably try Overlay. Then I'll probably try Soft Light. Then I might try Vivid Light to see if one of these will give me a result I like. If the result is too strong, I like it but it's just a bit too strong, you always have opacity at the top of your Layers panel. I just click on the word Opacity and I start dragging to the left and I can lessen the impact of this. If it's not enough, maybe I come in here and with Overlay mode it's too subtle. Consider typing Command + J to duplicate the layer. You just doubled it up, applying it twice strength. If that's too much, lower the opacity. You get the idea, though? If it's not enough just duplicate the layer multiple times until it is enough. If it's too much then lower the opacity to lessen it. Hard Light mode is a combination of Multiply and Screen. These others are combinations of what's up here. Linear Light might be a combination of Linear Burn and Linear Dodge, that kind of thing. It's just that 50% gray is the cut off of when is it acting like one or the other. Now we have another section down here. These are what I call comparative modes. If you wanna know what I call these sections these are the darken modes 'cause that's all they can do, these are the lighten modes 'cause that's all they can do, these are what I call the contrast modes because if they both brighten and darken, when it does that the contrast goes up in your picture so these are the contrast modes. These are what I call the comparative modes, not that that means anything to you yet but let's see if we can figure out what is going on with it. What do I feel like using? This is a texture I created. I wanna find out the smallest area where the texture repeats because there's a feature in Photoshop where you can define something as a pattern. If you do all it does is tile that image over and over again. If I can find the smallest section of this that could be used to repeat where it's absolutely identical to what's to the right of it, it could be useful. What I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna select a vertical area and I'm gonna copy it to its own layer. Watch my Layers panel. I'll type Command + J and you see that little part. If I were to hide the layer that's underneath that's what's on the top layer. Then I'm gonna change this blending mode to a choice called Difference. It's gonna show me where the layer I'm working on looks different than what's underneath. Wherever it's black it's identical to what's underneath. If I used my Move tool and start to reposition this do you see how I no longer see black everywhere? Now wherever it's not black it's different than what's underneath. What if I were to move this so it's black and I don't know if you're familiar with it or not but you can turn on Rulers and when your rulers are visible you can click on a ruler and pull out a guide and they snap to things. I'll just snap it right there so I simply remember where were we when it lined up with what's underneath. I went to the View menu to get to my Rulers. I just clicked right on the ruler and dragged in to the image to get a guide. Now I'm gonna use the arrow keys on my keyboard to nudge this over to the right and I'm just gonna keep nudging it until it turns black again. When it turns black again that means it should perfectly line up with what's underneath. Does that make sense? Now if I pull out another guide and have it snap to that same edge we should know that's the width that we need to have it repeat. I wanna do the same thing vertically so I'm gonna pull out a guide from the top ruler, get in on the top of this thing, and then I'll use the down arrow key to nudge it down until it turns black again. When it turns black again it should be lining up with what's underneath it. There. Then I'll just pull out another guide to snap it to the edge. Finally I'll throw away that top layer 'cause it's served its purpose. And I'll hide my Rulers. Right there is the smallest area I could use that could repeat over and over if you just tiled it. If you look at it here right where the line is, do you see how it cut of this little piece right here? Do you see that little piece sitting right here within that tile? Here you see how it cut off the bottom of that thing? Right up there is the bottom. You could take this and repeat it over and over again and it would be a seamless texture. I'm gonna select this, or a pattern I should call. If I just do this it should snap to the guides. I'm making a selection with the Marquee tool. I can choose Edit, Define Pattern. That means store what I currently have selected so I can use it again. I'm just gonna call it dimples, dumples. (laughing) Sometimes typos are fun. Now let's see if it would work. I'll create a brand new document. I don't really care the size. Then I'm gonna choose Edit, Fill. One of the choices when you fill is to fill with a pattern. Edit, Fill, is how I got to this. Pattern. The very last pattern in the list is the one I created. So there. Now I can use those dimples any time I want. Do you see how using the comparative modes was helpful there? That could also be helpful if I had two images. Do you remember when I had the lightning images and I was trying to get it so the little treeline lined up? I was just doing it kind of willy nilly where it's like I'm eyeballing it. If I set it to Difference mode I would move it until it gets as close to black as I possibly could which means it's similar to what's underneath as I could and it would have been more aligned. Remember that was all of these modes in here compare two layers, the layer you're working on to whatever's underneath, and shows you where they're different. Those aren't as useful as on a daily basis kind of thing but I'm really happy they're there because they can make things, if I had two identical pictures here and they didn't quite line up, set this to Difference mode and it would tell me, yeah, they don't line up. Then I arrow this around. Arrow this down. There, now they perfectly line up. If these two images were not absolutely identical because it's more like a panorama that I had stitched and the second image might be slightly rotated or something like that, I can still move this around and it just would never turn black. I would move it until it gets as dark as I can and then I'd know it's as close to lining up as I can get it. Then we have another section of modes in here down below. These are the HSL modes. HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity because what these modes do is they divide your picture up into three different components. Those components are called hue, saturation, and luminosity. If you're not familiar with those terms by chance hue means basic color. Is it red, green, yellow, orange? While you ignore other qualities like how much of that color is in there? Is it a vivid red or is it barely red at all? It ignores is it a bright red or a dark red. It just means basically what color is in there while ignoring the brightness and while ignoring how colorful it is. That's hue, it means basic color. Saturation means how colorful is it? Is it a vivid red or is it almost black and white where it's just the tiniest hint of red? Luminosity is just another word for brightness. That means how bright or dark is it. These modes will divide your image up into these three qualities, hue, saturation, and brightness or luminosity, and allow you to apply just some parts of that. If you look at this particular picture here I have a new layer sitting on top of it. I'm gonna just choose a color by clicking on my foreground color, grab whatever I want, and I'm gonna paint on top of this. Imagine I was precise. Not gonna be. Then I come up here and I say let's do Luminosity. That means take the brightness of this layer and apply it to the hue that's underneath, meaning the basic color that's down there, and the saturation that's underneath. Which means however colorful the stuff is down there, make this stuff just as colorful. It's not gonna look very good I don't think. That's weird. That just evened out kind of the brightness of the car a lot. That's not very useful. I'll show you when it is useful. In fact, let me see if I can find, hopefully I have it. Yeah. No? No, I'll have to create something since I don't have the image. Let's say I did something like in here I went in and I applied a Curves adjustment layer and I brought out contrast within this image. I came in and decided to click on a few areas and I started darkening like this. Do you see how the image is becoming more colorful when I do that? If I turn this off and on didn't it become more vivid? Why not take the blending mode for this adjustment layer and set it to Luminosity. What that means is only let this affect the brightness of what's under it, don't let it affect the hue or the saturation. When I set it to Luminosity, do you see the mellow color comes back in? Now if I turn this off and on I'm darkening like I wanted to but I'm not getting the color changes. Any time you do any kind of an adjustment and you mean to change the brightness of your picture but for some reason Photoshop ends up changing the color, change the blending mode of that particular adjustment layer to Luminosity. Let's try the other choices. If I set this to Hue it means take the basic color of this layer and apply it to the brightness that's underneath and make it just as saturated as what's underneath. It divides it up into three sections, Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity, and we're saying only apply one of those and therefore get the other two pieces from what's underneath. You need all three pieces to define something. Here's Hue, check it out. We got a blue car. I'll continue to paint in here. If you have something that is already colorful and you wanna change what color it is then you wanna use Hue mode. Hue means change basic color but leave it how colorful it used to be. That's why the shadows in here that don't contain very much color still don't contain very much color. This is also going to keep the brightness the same as it used to be. We're only applying the hue which is the basic color. Let's say that we didn't have any color. Maybe this image I chose black and white, let me just brighten it up a little bit. So we didn't have any color and I wanna add some. I may create a new layer to put my color on and I'm gonna paint on that layer. Then we have to think about what mode we'd need to use. Hue mode is not gonna work because remember this divides your image up into three parts? Hue, Saturation, and I'll just call it Brightness? You need all three parts of those to define something. Right now all we have on the layer underneath is Brightness. There is no color at all. If we apply Hue, it disappears because it doesn't know how colorful it should be. There's no color underneath. When we use Hue it keeps the image as colorful as it used to be underneath, so therefore there is no color. It just doesn't do a thing. We need to instead use a mode called Color. Color is two pieces. Color means apply both the Hue, which is our basic color, and the Saturation together and just use the brightness of what's underneath. When I set it to Color, there, now we're starting to get the color in there. I might need to adjust the darkness of the car to get the blue to look appropriate but that's how we can try to colorize a black and white picture. One method is to use Color mode. There is a problem using Color mode and that is it's going to make the image underneath just as saturated as the color you painted with. If we were to look at the original, I'll revert this back to the original, do you notice that in the dark parts of the car, like on the dark part of the hood up here, it's not as colorful as in the bright parts like down here? If you look in the really dark part like right there where that shadow is hitting the car, there's almost no color at all. But when I use the mode called Color it forces the same amount of color, the same saturation level, throughout and so that's gonna look very false. It's not gonna look realistic. When we have a session that is called advanced layers we'll learn how to fix that. We'll learn how to say apply it less when you get into the dark parts, but we just don't know how to do that yet. The main thing is if an image doesn't have any color to begin with Hue won't do anything at all because Hue means only change the basic color of what's underneath, leave it just as colorful as it used to be. If it's black and white underneath, it's gonna be just as colorful as it used to be. It's still gonna be black and white. If there was the tiniest hint of color in that image underneath we would have the tiniest hint of whatever color is on the layer we painted with when we use Hue mode. When we use Color mode it applies both hue and saturation meaning both basic color that's in that layer and how colorful it is. That's what we need when we're trying to colorize things. The Color mode is also useful when you make adjustments. If you make an adjustment and let's say what we're doing is some sort of color correction. I'm gonna do a Curves adjustment layer. We haven't talked about color much so I'm just gonna do something without telling you how and come in here and see if I can get this to change the colors in my image a bit. The colors shifted. Let's say that's what I was going for is the color shifting. But as a consequence of having the color shift the brightness got out of whack. I could take this adjustment layer and change it to blending mode to a choice called Color. That means allow this layer to only affect the basic color so it can shift around the basic color. Allow it also to control how colorful the picture is, but do not let it control what's known as the luminosity. Don't let it change the brightness. That's what Color mode will do when it comes to an adjustment layer. If you're ever adjusting a picture and you're trying to shift the color and as a consequence of trying to shift the color the brightness happens to change in an undesirable way change the mode to Color. Now if I turn this off and on you can see the color shifting around, but the brightness is largely staying the same if it's all possible to. You see our blending modes. The one called Saturation is not very useful. It means make the image underneath just as colorful as what I paint with. Leave the color the same as what it used to be, leave the brightness the same as what it used to be, but just make it as colorful as the color I'm painting with. The problem with that is you paint with vivid blue and everything changes to a vivid color and it just doesn't look right all that much. The one thing you could do with it is if you painted with a shade of gray, it doesn't matter which shade of gray, then it's gonna make it just as colorful as that shade of gray. There is no color in grays. That would make things black and white as you paint over them. There are other ways of doing that so I don't get too excited about it. Then I could always lower the opacity of that to say don't apply it all the way. Let some of the original show through. That can be like a toned down amount of color. Hopefully this is giving you some sense for this menu called blending modes. Remember that things are broken up into sections. These are the darken modes and they can only darken and white disappears. These can only brighten. They're lighten modes and in them black disappears. These are the contrast modes because they both brighten and darken. In those 50% gray goes away. These are the comparative modes where it compares one layer to what's underneath and shows you where they're different and it just does it in slightly different ways. These modes here divide your image up into three parts, Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity, and allows you to apply just one of those qualities, or in the case of color two of those qualities, from the layer you're working on so that the other categories are taken from what's underneath. This can also be used in painting tools. If I grab a painting tool, you'll find it up here. Now it means how is this painting tool gonna interact with the one layer I'm painting on as if it was on a separate layer above but instead we're painting directly on the layer. There are some very useful things you could do there. For instance, when you're working on masks, let's say this was in a layer mask, and in that layer mask I wanna paint with this shade of gray right here and I wanna paint right across here but I don't want it to replace what was already there. I want the areas that are white to become that and the areas that are black stay the way they are. How do you do that? This shade of gray. Isn't it brighter than what's underneath? What if I tell it with this little menu up here for my Paintbrush tool to only darken things? If all it's capable of doing is darkening then this shade can't change to black because it's not darker than black. When I set it to that, now look. Cool. They're useful for all sorts of things. The more time you spend with them, over years and years of time you get a little inventory of tricks in your head that make them more and more useful. I just hope here we gave you an introduction to them where now you're not afraid of the menu and you're like, "Oh, I gotta start playing with that." And then over the next 10 years you play with Photoshop you'll start using them a lot more and getting a much more crystallized idea of how to think about them. Question. Isn't there a trick to kind of scroll through all of them-- Yeah, there is a trick to scroll through all of them. If you have whatever you want on its own layer and the Move tool is active, then you can, at least on a Macintosh, you can hold down the Shift key and hit Plus or Minus on your keyboard. If you do it'll actually cycle through that menu switching down one at a time each time you hit the key. Shift, either Plus or Minus. I can't remember if Plus goes up or down in the list but it's one direction or the other and you have to be in the Move tool. In Windows I don't think it does it quite that way because in Windows if you just click on the menu itself then you can use the arrow keys to cycle through what's there, I think. It's Shift Plus? Shift + Plus + Minus is working? Okay, so it does work in Windows, as well. Alright. That's it for today. Let's talk about Monday. Monday we're gonna experiment with filters. I bet ya when we get into filters we're probably gonna be using blending modes along with them 'cause you saw how useful we used, what, Find Edges before, we used Emboss. There's a bunch of other filters where when you combine them with blending modes they become more useful. We're gonna explore that whole menu and see what we can do with it. Between now and then why don't you head over to the Facebook group? The Facebook group is where you can ask questions, where you can comment about what you've done, you can upload your own images to say, "Hey, look what I just did. "I took these fireworks "and I put 'em on top of this different image." That kinda stuff. If you haven't been to the Facebook group yet this is the website you can go to right at the bottom. You have to ask to be part of the group. That's because it's a closed group. We'll let ya in if you just send a request there. The reason it's a closed group is so that your general followers can't read what you post in there. If you post in there something about I hate this client, they keep asking me to do so-and-so. Is there any way I can fix it? That client's not gonna read that comment unless they choose to become part of this group. So that's why we close the group. If you wanna find me on the web here are various sources from my website to Pinterest to Instagram. Otherwise this is another day in Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide. I hope to see you next time.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Color Palettes
Edges and Textures
Hand-drawn Frames
Hand-drawn Graphics
Layout Templates
Practice Images - Lesson 18: Tips and Tricks
Practice Images - Lesson 19: Actions and Automation
Practice Images - Lesson 17: Advanced Layers
Practice Images - Lesson 12: Advanced Masking
Practice Images - Lesson 15: Advanced Retouching
Practice Images - Lesson 10: Blending Modes
Practice Images - Lesson 2: Camera Raw
Practice Images - Lesson 8: Color Adjustments
Practice Images - Lesson 5: Layer Masks
Practice Images - Lesson 4: Layers
Practice Images - Lesson 9: Retouching Essentials
Practice Images - Lesson 3: Selection Essentials
Practice Images - Lesson 14: Shooting for Photoshop
Practice Images - Lesson 13: Smart Objects
Practice Images - Lesson 1: Starting from Zero
Practice Images - Lesson 7: Tonal Adjustments
Practice Images - Lesson 6: Tools and Panels
Practice Images - Lesson 20: Troubleshooting and Advice
Practice Images - Lesson 16: Warp Bend Liquify
Practice Images - Lesson 11: Filters
Script Elements
Week 1 - Day 1 Homework
Week 1 - Day 2 Homework
Week 1 - Day 3 Homework
Week 1 - Day 4 Homework
Week 1 - Day 5 Homework
Week 1 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Bit Depth
Color Modes
Color Spaces
Logic of Keyboard Shortcuts
Pen Tool
Week 2 - Day 6 Homework
Week 2 - Day 7 Homework
Week 2 - Day 8 Homework
Week 2 - Day 9 Homework
Week 2 - Day 10 Homework
Week 2 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Homework - Shooting for Photoshop in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Filters in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Masking in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Retouching in Adobe Photoshop CC
Week 3 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Homework - Warp, Bend, Liquify, in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Actions & Automation in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Troubleshooting & Advice in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Layers in Adobe Photoshop CC
Week 4 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Bens Actions Sampler ReadMe
Bens Actions Sampler
Bens Styles Sampler ReadMe
Bens Styles Sampler
Texture Sampler
Save for Web
Facebook Q&A #1
Facebook Q&A #2
Q&A #3
PSD Preferences
File Formats
Customizing PSD

Ratings and Reviews


Ben Willmore is exceptionally and intimately knowledgeable about Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, including Bridge and Camera Raw, and how they work together. He's also a wonderful photographer. That's great, but what's even better for us is that he's an incredible and generous teacher. He shares his knowledge and experience in an organized, thorough, thoughtful and relatable way. I envy his efficiency with words and ideas! He isolates hard-to-understand concepts - things we'd be unlikely to figure out on our own - and explains them in simple terms and with on point and memorable examples. I completely enjoy Ben's teaching methods and his personality. His admiration and appreciation of his wife, Karen, are telling of what a good guy he must be, and he's got just an overall pleasant personality. I love his amusement when something "ridiculous" happens during an edit! This bootcamp is fantastic and just what I need. It's only one of Ben's many CL classes that I've watched and learned from - they are all excellent. Thank you, Ben Willmore. (And Karen!)

Lynn Buente

I purchased this course ---SMART MOVE!--because, at 74, I learn more slowly and need more practice. While I've had some "novice" experience with PS, this course is moving me along in a totally different way. Most tutorials just tell you what to do. Ben tells you not only WHAT to do, but WHY (--or why not) and HOW. Understanding better can lead to using the practices in PS more fluently AND to greater freedom to be creative. I find Ben's approach to be kind of a "come as you are" session. No matter where you are on the learning spectrum, there is something to review, something new, or a brand new challenge. The relaxed manner of presentation is great, but doesn't minimize the content of the class. I appreciate the additional explanations and theory. These help to make total sense of the tools and practices of good editing. I would really recommend that, if possible, you purchase the course. The practice images, the homework, and the evolving workbook are great review and reference points. Personally, I have downloaded the classes by week so I can view, re-view, and stop, start, and repeat segments as often as I need to --which is often! Also, sometimes I like to view and work on one segment of the class at a time. My study of this course will be a LOT LONGER than four weeks, and I know I'll be referring to it as long as I'm a Photoshop user. Thanks, Ben! (And thanks to your wife for her contribution as well.)

Carol Senske

I've used PS for about five years in many of it's various versions. Learning on your won is a tough proposition, and I've struggled the whole time. Seeing work I admired and that inspired me to strive for great er things then not being ablr to figure out how to do them was a major frustration. The jargon was sometimes foreign, the complexity of the program overwhelming but I soldiered on and learned bits and pieces. A friend recommended Ben's course and I immediately came to CL to see what she was so thrilled about - I was amazed! Ben is down-to-earth, explains each step, gives shortcuts, defines terms, and shows how to accomplish what he's teaching. After two weeks I bought the class. I not only bought the Photoshop course but I added the Lightroom course as well. I'll do that, on my own, when things slow down a bit, and I have no doubt that course will help me even more than the PS course. I'm totally at sea with LR. I like Ben's teaching style, appreciate all the homework and extras included, and greatly appreciate the magnificent, easy to use, workbook by Ben's wife. I give my wholehearted endorsement for this course!

Student Work