Skip to main content

Compositing with Blending Modes

Lesson 10 from: Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop 2021

Jesús Ramirez

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

10. Compositing with Blending Modes

Use Blending Modes to quickly combine images together.

Lesson Info

Compositing with Blending Modes

in this video, I'm going to show you how to use blending mode to composite in Photoshop this'll a composite I made a while ago and I just quickly want to show you how it was made. I have a background group and inside of this background group, I have several layers that make up the background. I have this background image. I have a sky extension and a tower extension as well. I've added planets and a color overlay. This is, of course, a simplified version of the composite. Then I have this hero group with our main hero, and she is made up of many different layers that create her final look. But anyway, I just wanted you to see how this composite was made. I'm going to enable all the layers once again. And I'm also going to show you this lightning layer, which is what we will composite into this scene. We want to make it seem like this lighting is coming out of her. She's got superpowers, she's flying, and we need to see lightning around her. Now. We could use the masking technique you u...

sed earlier to mask the hair strands. But doing this with a channel could be very complicated and time consuming, and we may not get a good looking mask. So what is the alternative? Well, luckily for us, the lightning is up against a black background, which means that we could use a blending mode to mask out the black background and keep the bright areas. If you have the lightning layers selected, you can click on this drop down menu, and from here you have a list of blending modes. Notice that the blending modes have these dividers and this device the blending most into categories. We have the normal category, which really don't make any change unless you bring down the opacity or the film. Then we have the darkened blending modes. They keep the dark pixels but hide the bright pixels. Notice how the brightest areas of this lightning layer are hidden, but we keep the dark areas. Then we have the lightning group, which keeps the bright areas in hides the dark areas, which is exactly what we want for our composite. We're going to use the screen blending mode, but before I continue, let me quickly explained the three remaining categories. We have the contrast category, which either darkens or brightens the image depending on the layers, brightness. And the same is true for all the blending modes in this category, of course, then we have this group of blending modes that I like to refer to as the special effects blending modes. I usually don't use them too much and let someone to create a groovy special effect like you see here. And then we have the component, blending modes that either that keep one or several of the components of the colors of the layer. For example, this blending mode only keeps the hue, meaning the color. It uses the saturation in the luminosity from the layer below. Then we have the saturation blending mode, which keeps the hue and the luminosity from the layer below. And of course, it uses the saturation of the selected layer. And we have the luminosity blending mode, which keeps the hue and saturation of the layer below and the luminosity of the current layer. And you might notice that I skipped the blending. More color color is simply using the hue and saturation of the current layer and the luminosity of the layer below. But anyway, Like I said, we're going to use the screen blending mode in this case, which will hide the dark pixels and reveal the bright pixels. And we can adjust how this layer blends by making the layer darker or brighter. For example, if you go into image adjustment and levels, you can make the layer darker to hide those off black pixels, and you can make the layer brighter by brightening those off white pixels. And, of course, you can adjust the gamma accordingly. What I'm gonna do now is simply press the okay key and I compress control T on Windows, commanding in the macro transform and scale this accordingly so that we can have the lightning right over our superhero, and I can move it around to different areas like so. Then hold Alton Windows option on the Mac and click and simply paint with white in areas where I want to reveal the effect. Like so and maybe I can select the move tool and move the lightning over to her hands. And I couldn't duplicate the layer by pressing control J and Windows Commander in the Mac, moving it to the other hand and pressing control T Command t to transform and click and drag to rotate it so that the lightning is not facing the same direction and it looks like different lightning. Also, I wasn't planning on showing you this, but I'm gonna go into my libraries, and I'm just going to type in the word overlay because I have several overlays in my image that could help you understand how this could work with a different type of image. For example, I can select this abstract grunge layer, and I can rotate it and fit it onto my composite like so click and drag on the corner handles and I can change the blending mode to multiply in this case and notice how we now have this grungy rusty texture on our composite. You can, of course, reduce the opacity as well, so this could be a great way of adding texture to your images. Also, I just noticed that I have a really cool overlay. If I scroll down, you will see it here. This is a lens flare, and I can increase the size of my lens flare, move it down a little bit and change the blending mode to screen so that we keep the bright pixels and Aiken scale this up. And now I have the sun coming through. And of course, I can go into image adjustment levels in adjust the brightness of this image so that I can hide any seams, and I compressed Okay, when I'm done, the cool thing about using overlays like these is that you can actually change the color as well. For example, in the lightning group that we have here, I could select one of these layers and create a hue and saturation adjustment layer clip into the layer below. Check colorize and I can adjust the hue of that lightning so I can have lightning of different colors. And that looks really, really good. So again, when you're compositing, think about when you can use blending modes instead of masking to get better results.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Atmospheric Perspective
Matching Brightness
Matching Saturation
Matching Ambient Color
Select and Mask
Masking Difficult Hair
Blending Modes
Custom Brushes
Putting It All Together

Ratings and Reviews


This course teaches what you need to know about creating composites. As alway Jesus delivers in a clear, precise and fun way. You can just tell this guy has a great personality and he loves what he does. I greatly enjoyed the course and would strongly recommend it. A big thumbs up!!!

a Creativelive Student

One of the best courses I've done on CreativeLive and that's a high bar! An incredible mix of in depth guidance but also some simple photoshop tips along the way, I had so many 'wow' moments, learning things I had no idea you could do in Photoshop. Really a good pace too. Quite a short course but so many good lessons to revisit. Great work!

Jorge Perez-Martinez

I think this is a wonderful course. It goes into the key aspects that one needs to know to make a good composite. Jesus does not go into needles details and assumes a basic knowledge of photoshop; this make the course very manageable as far a its length. Highly recommended!

Student Work