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Hard Light Mode

Lesson 4 from: Layer Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

4. Hard Light Mode

Lesson Info

Hard Light Mode

But then the next mode below that which starts with a mode called Overlay is a combination of the two sections we just talked about. What it does is it uses as its neutral color 50% gray. Then, anything that is brighter than 50% gray is going to act like one of the Lighten modes. Anything that's darker than 50% gray is gonna act like one of the Darken modes. But 50% gray itself will disappear, known as being neutral. So, let's take a look at one of those. I'm gonna go to the one that is the equivalent to Multiply and Screen put together, and that is called Hard Light. So in Hard Light mode, notice where 50% gray used to be, it's missing. It's just gone. Anything brighter than 50% gray is bright in the picture, as if it's using light. Anything darker than 50% gray is darkening as if using ink. That's what Hard Light mode does. But all of the modes that are found in this section are generally combinations of modes that were found in the other two, just with 50% gray being the dividing li...

ne of one of the Lighten modes and one of the Darken modes. So what the heck can we use these for? Well, there are all sorts of things we can use them for, one of which would be when we want to apply filters. Let's say I took this particular image and I duplicated this layer typing Command + J, Control + J on Windows, is one way of duplicating a layer. I think of it as jumping it to a new layer. Then let's apply a filter. If I go over here, there is under Stylize, a choice called Emboss. And if you look at Emboss, it produces a huge amount of 50% gray. The dominant gray that you're seeing right now in here is exactly 50% gray. And then I can adjust this to fine tune our results. But, the base, the majority of that, is exactly 50% gray. Click OK. So, what if I want to get rid of that gray? And if we were to get rid of the gray, it just goes away. But then this area here that's brighter than 50% gray is gonna act like light, and it's gonna brighten the image that's underneath. The area over here that is darker than 50% gray is gonna act like ink, and it's gonna print right on top of the image. And therefore, where this strap is going across, on one side it's gonna be brighter, on the other side is gonna be darker. Let's try it out. All I gotta do is set this to Hard Light mode. Now if I hide that layer, turn it off and back on again, you can get a feeling for it. Look at those little highlights that are on the edges of things, also some of the skin texture is getting it. I'm not saying that's the best thing to use on this particular image, I'm just letting you know that certain filters will produce a tremendous amount of 50% gray. Let's look at another example. Think I had a... Well, we'll end up using textures. What I'm gonna do is just take this rough texture that I have, and I'm going to take this image. I'm gonna put the rough texture on top. So I use my Move tool, I'll click within this image, drag the other tab to get it to come to the front, and then drag my mouse down into the image. You have to both start and finish your dragging inside the other image. I'll scale this up just so it fills the whole area. That's known as Free Transform. Press Return or Enter to indicate that I'm done. All right, so if there happens to be any areas in here that are brighter than 50% gray, I can get them to brighten the image that's underneath. And if there happens to be any areas that are darker than 50% gray, it's gonna darken what's underneath. So let's change this to the choice called Hard Light. Now the problem is, I didn't make sure that this image contained a good amount of 50% gray. I didn't make sure it had a good division between those two. So I can come over here and make an adjustment. If you go to Levels, the middle slider in Levels, this guy right here, forces whatever is directly below it, whatever is this shade in your document, to exactly 50% gray. And you can move this around. So if you move it over here, what used to be this bright will be 50% gray. Then this bar chart tells you how much space these shades take up. And do you see when this goes to the top, way up here, that's what takes up the most space in this image. So what takes up the most space if you go straight down from it is this shade right here. Well, what I'm gonna do is just point this thing right at the tip of that. That means let's take whatever shade takes up the most space in this document and let's make it exactly 50% gray. That's the gray that's gonna disappear in this mode. And I can do that with a lot of textures. And sometimes, I don't know if it will be in the case of this particular image, that's gonna make it more useful in these other Blending modes. But with all the Blending modes in this section, they all work the same. It's gonna make things brighter than 50% gray, brighten, and things darker than 50% gray, darken. So why don't I just switch between all of them to see if there's one that might give me a result I like better. But there's something else that comes to mind, and that is if you look at the image that's underneath, why don't we put that image on top? I'll unlock its layer by clicking on the lock symbol, because when it's locked I can't move it up. I'll drag it above. And why not just print that as if it's ink? If I printed that as if it's ink where the bird cage is and the bird, that'd get a lot of ink, and then out here, it would only put down a teeny bit of ink over here where there's some accessories. But that would potentially be better. So, let's go over here and try Multiply mode. There we go. So, it's good to have a general knowledge of how to think about these modes as a whole. We can also cheat on occasion. Let's say that I want to apply a Lens Flare filter to something. I'm gonna put it on this image. Well, if I come in here and choose Filter, Render, Lens Flare. You get this filter and there's a little crosshair here I can drag around to move it wherever I want. And then I click OK, and I get a lens flare. But I want that to be on a separate independent layer, so I could change which picture's underneath it, or I could do retouching on the image underneath that were anything else. So let's choose undo and put that on its own layer. I'm gonna create a brand new empty layer by clicking the New Layer icon. I'll return to the Filter menu. And it was under Render, Lens Flare. Oh bummer, it can't work on an empty layer. And that's because the Lens Flare filter just brightens whatever you feed it. And the particular layer I'm working on contains nothing. So there's nothing in that layer to brighten. So let's throw that layer away. And let's see if we can use blending modes to help us here. Well, when you create a brand new empty layer, if you just click the icon, you get an empty layer, but if you Option click the icon, that's Alt clicking in Windows, it'll ask you for some settings first, including the name. So I held down the Option key, Alt in Windows, when I clicked the New Layer icon. Then, I'm gonna come in here and choose a blending mode. All you're doing here is you're pre-choosing the mode that will be found at the top of the Layers panel. Whatever you choose here will end up being chosen in the Layers panel. I'm gonna choose Hard Light mode. Then, you'll see right here it says, "Fill with Hard-Light-Neutral color." Remember I was trying to feed you the concept of a neutral color? So, that means it's gonna fill it with 50% gray. I'll click OK, and we have a brand new empty layer, but it's not actually empty. It's full of a neutral color, 50% gray. And you don't see the 50% gray because it's in Hard Light mode, and that color doesn't show up in Hard Light mode. But now if we apply a filter that can only brighten and darken what you feed it, we're feeding it something right here that it could easily brighten and darken. So Filter, Render, Lens Flare. Works just fine now. And now I could change the picture that is found underneath. Now I could perform retouching under there, or anything else. But we've cheated. And that was using blending modes. Now the other blending modes that are found in the same menu are very similar. So you could attempt to use Overlay mode, Soft Light mode, Vivid Light, Pin Light, and Hard Mix. But you see that they're just variations of the same theme. So if you find that one of them is useful, try the others. And so it's less important that you understand the individual blending modes, more important that you understand the whole categories. Now, let's look at another category of blending modes. And I'm just gonna duplicate this layer so we have something to work with. In the next section of blending modes, right in here, and those are the Difference modes. What do Difference modes do? Well, Difference mode shows you where two layers are different. Where have they changed in appearance? So what I wanna do is if you look at this particular image, this is a repeating pattern. And if you see, there's a hole right here and you could see a little swoosh coming in to it and that swoosh above it. And if you go over a ways, you'll see a repeat of the exact same feature. And if you go vertical, you see this little nodule here. And if you went far enough down, you should see another one 'cause it's a repeating pattern. Well I wanna break this down into the smallest repeating pattern possible because Photoshop has a feature to deal with patterns and we should be able to turn this into a pattern that we could fill any size document with. So to do that, I'm gonna make a selection, like this. And I'm gonna copy that area to its own layer. But before I copy it, I want to put a guide out there to remember where the edge of the selection was. To put a guide out, you need to have your rulers visible. You can do that from the View menu right here, or just type Command + R, Control+ R in Windows. I'll pull out a guide to mark where the edge was. Now I'm gonna copy just that part that's selected. I'll do it by typing Command + J, Control + J in Windows, which means jump that to a new layer. So if I were to hide the layer that's underneath, you see that we have just that chunk on its own layer. Now, I'm gonna change the blending mode of that layer to a choice called Difference. And wherever these two layers are identical, it's going to display black. So now, all I'm gonna do is I'm going to also mark the top position of where this was with a guide, and I'm just gonna drag this with my Move tool towards the right and I'm gonna see if it ever turns black again. If it ever turns black again, it should precisely match what's underneath. It's dark there, meaning it's similar, but it's not exact so I keep going. It's getting dark there, still not exact. Keep goin'. Ooh, right there it's getting black. I might inch it to the right and left with my arrow keys to make sure I'm exactly on, but I am. So now I'm gonna pull out a new guide and again mark the left side 'cause that's how far I moved before I found a repeat. Then I would drag it vertically straight down and see if I can get it to turn black again. That's not close, it's exact is what I'm looking for. Almost. There it is. So, I will use my arrow keys, make sure I'm right on and I am. And I pulled out a guide and mark where the top is. Now I can throw away that layer because the four guides that I have in there define the edges of the repeating area. And if I were to grab my Selection tool and make a selection between those, I can then go to the Edit menu and I'm gonna find a choice in here called, where is it? Define Pattern. And that means have Photoshop remember this and have it think of it as a repeating shape, a seamless shape. I don't know what I'm gonna call it. Then we could test it. I can come over here and create a brand new document. And let's see, let's make it a large document. There's our new document. I can go to the Edit menu, choose Fill, and one of the things I can fill with is a pattern. And the very last pattern in this list should be the last one that was saved. So I chose Edit, Fill, and in that menu is a choice called Pattern. And now I have a nice repeating pattern. So if I know I have a repeating pattern, and I need to find the smallest portion of where it repeats, those modes can be very useful. They can also be useful anytime you're trying to line things up. Where maybe you're trying to manually stitch a panorama because normal panorama stitching software just didn't work for you. So you move two layers until it gets as close to black. Means they're as close to being aligned.

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