Friday, July 25, 2008

Blending Options - DEFINED!!

By popular demand, today we will be focusing on DEFINING the Blending Modes as best we can... what they do to photos on top of photos, photos on top of paper, and paper on top of paper. We will go down the list and define them one by one and look at the different effects they have on different scenarios. I had to pull out my Photoshop A-Z Book again for this one... and even *I* learned a few things! LOVE when that happens!!!

So... here we go. We will take each blending mode and show what it will do to this photo on top of itself, this photo on top of the gray paper, and the gray paper on top of the patterned paper. If you want to really get the feel of the way these work, open a photo and a couple of sheets of paper and follow along!

The pixels in the top layer are opaque and therefore block the view of the bottom layer. Adjusting the opacity of the top layer will it semi-transparent causing it to blend with the bottom layer.

This is obviously... well... normal. :) No formal explanation needed here.

Combines the top layer with the bottom using a pattern of pixels. There is no effect if the top layer is at 100% opacity. Reduce the opacity to see the effect. Example set to 80%.

I rarely... (if not, never) use this one. As you can see, it doesn't really do anything great for photos or papers. I'm thinking it is probably a great tool for web design though. But for something that I plan on printing... hmmm... not really the look I'm going for. :) I'm sure I'll find a use for it someday. hehe.


Compares the color of the top and bottom layers and blends the pixels where the top layer is darker than the bottom.

I usually use this one in addition to other blend modes. I'm not really excited about what it does by itself to photos, but as you can see in this example... it can do some cool stuff to papers sometimes!

Multiplies the color of the bottom layer with the top layer producing an overall darker result. There is no image change when the top layer is white.

For some reason, I just love this blending mode. It's one of my favorties. I find myself using it even when I think I won't. hahaha. It's a GREAT base layer to work with when getting effects on your photos... it's darkens it all, so when you come back and put a screen or a color dodge on it... wow... the effects are really cool... and sometimes reallllly dreamy!

Darkens or 'burns' the image using the contents of teh top layer. There is no image change if the top layer is white.

This is a great one too! Can do some cool things to photos, but I think even more so with papers. It can be waaaaay to dark and harsh on the wrong photo, but get the right photo and it can do WONDERS... especially with a SCREEN layer underneath!

Uses the same approach as the Color Burn mode but porduces a stronger darening effect. Again, there is no image change when the top layer is white.

Ditto what I said about Color Burn. ;)

Compares the color in the top and bottom layers and blends the pixels if the top layer is lighter than the bottom.
Just like Darken... it doesn't do anything great to photos, but can be used with other blend modes and does really cool stuff to papers.


The opposite to the Multiply mode as it multiplies the inverse of the top layer with the bottom layer producing a much lighter image.

This is a good one. I use it a lot. Usually... I will take my original photo, duplicate it as SCREEN once or twice... then duplicate it again as Overlay or Hard Light... it gives a fabulous contrast to the photo and just gives it a more modern and edgy feel.

Makes the picture lighter using the top layer to dodge (lighten) the bottom layer. There is no effect if the top layer is black.

This is a good one too. It can be used over a MULTIPLY or COLOR BURN layer to give it some harshness. Playing with the opacity on this one is almost always key. It doesn't usually do anything great for papers, though. It makes them a bit too harsh in my opinion.

Similar to the Screen mode but produces a much stronger lighteing effect. There is no effect if the top layer is black.

Ditto to what I said on Color Dodge.

Combines the effect of both the Multiply and Screen moes whils blending the top layer with the bottom.

This one (and the next few) are probably the most used blending modes for me. Overlay really defines the colors in a photo and is sometimes the ONLY thing I do to a photo. LOVE this one!

Similar to the Overlay mode but produces a more subtle effect.

This one is what I use when Overlay is just a bit too much. Again... it is sometimes all I do to a photo.

Uses the same approach as the Overlay mode but the change is more dramatic. Here the top layer is either Screened or Multiplied depending on it's color. There is no effect if the top layer is 50% gray.

This one really pumps up your photo. Sometimes I use this one by itself if I want a really edgy, dramatic effect, but I usually have to play with the opacity a bit.

Combines the effets of both the Color Burn and color Dodge modes and applies the blend based on the color of the top layer.

This one is usually too harsh by itself, but used together with other blending modes, it can be very effective.

Similar to the Vivid Light mode but produces a more dramatic relsult

I don't use this one as much, but there are some photos that it works beautifully on.

Blends the light colors in the top layer using the Lighten mode and blends the dark colors using the Darken mode.

A photo on top of a photo doesn't show much difference with this one, but when blended over paper, it can REALLY come in handy when you're trying to get rid of the background in some photos... it does most of the work for you. But as you can see, it's not for every photo... as it gets rid of TOO much sometimes. :)

Creates a flat toned picture with limited colors and lots of posterization. The luminosity of the top layer is blended wit hthe color of the bottom.

This blending mode is very cool, however, I've yet to use it on a layout. But it is GREAT at getting a very "pop art" effect. I'm determined to use this one on a layout at some point.

Displays the tonal difference between the contents of the two layers by subracting the lighter pixels from either of the layers. This results in a dark and sometimes reversed image.

With the photo on photo here, I actually had to set the top layer at 80% opacity to even see the photo... it made it just a black image. but the photo on paper and paper on paper, you can see the effect it gives.

Similar to the Difference mode but produces less dramatic effects.

Combines the Hue (color) of the top layer with the Saturation (color vibracy) and Luminance (tones) of the bottom layer.

Didn't do us much good on the photo on photo or photo on paper, but the paper on paper... it gave us a totally different (and really pretty) peice of patterned paper. :)

Combines the Saturation (color vibrancy ) of the top layer with the Hue (color) and Luminance (tones) of the bottom layer.

Ditto to what I said about Hue.

Combines the Hue (color) and Saturation (color vibrancy) of the top layer with the Luminance (tones) of the bottom layer.

Ditto to what I said about Hue and Saturation.

Combines the Luminance (tones) of the top layer with the Saturation (color vibrancy) and Hue (color) of the bottom layer.

This one is cool too. As you can see with the photo on paper, it turned our photo the same color tone as the bottom layer... as well as with our paper on paper.

(**All blending mode definitions (shown above in itialics) provided by Adobe Photoshop CS2 A-Z by Phillip Andrews.

Now... here are some quick reference guides for a quick look at the different modes altogether. (**NOTE: CS3 has 2 additional blending modes... Darker Color and Lighter Color that are shown below but not defined above. They both do pretty much the exact same thing as Darken and Lighten.)

Photo on Photo:

Photo on Paper:

Paper on Paper:

I would LOVE to know what you think of this tutorial. Feel free to leave comments!

If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, you can certainly email me at

***I would love to hear what type of tutorials YOU would like to see! While your here, stop by the "SUGGESTIONS box" and let me know what you would like to see! In the meantime....

STAY TUNED for these great tutorials coming up....

ALL ABOUT TEXT: Choosing the right font for your layout; where to place it; what size to make it; what color; tips on journaling and documenting... everything I can think of about text.

INSPIRATION NEEDED: You have a photo you want to scrap... you have it on your page... now what? I will take you through several different routes of a scrapbook page in progress and give you some starting points on what direction to take different photos in.

ORGANIZATION: Do you have a TON of digital scrapping supplies? Need to know how to organize them? I feel certain that everyone does it differently, but I will share my method with you to see if it might work for you.

BRUSHES: We will talk about downloading brushes, loading and saving brushes, organizing brushes, even making you OWN brushes!!!

You can find a PRINTABLE version of this tutorial (and all of my others) in the Tutorial Section at Oscraps!


M u s s said...

This is so cool! Thank you!
I played alone withe the blending modes after your first tutorial, but this work of you is tremendous!!!
Thanks again!

nite owl said...

fantastic demonstration. thanks for putting the time in. the side-by-side is a super reference to keep.

mel_h said...

wow the work you put into this tutorial is truly amazing! thanks so much for sharing!
much love,
mel_h xxxxxx

kicksmom said...

Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. I love how you included examples of each blending option.

Nann said...

Thank you, thank you. I just play around with the blend modes. This is so helpful to really understand what they are doing...thanks again

Jill said...

amazing amanda! thank you taking the time to explain all the incredible blending options available in photoshop. i am thrilled to try some new tricks with what i know now! thank you, thank you!

marcie said...

Excellent tutorial! I have been playing around with digi scrapping and PSE 6 since about January and I love it. Thanks for an awesome explanation of the different blending modes. I have played with the different modes but not really thought to use several together - but I will now.

You blog is well thought out with very clear tutorials and instuctions. And thanks for the preview codes!

Church said...

Fabulous as usual! I have scrapped more pictures that I didn't know what to do with because of your tutorials! Thanks!

Dawn said...

Excellent!!! thank you from boston!

Yummy Mommy said...

Wow!! Thank you so much Amanda!
You cannot imagine how helpful this is for me!!
Now i know where what all those blending options mean and how to use them properly!
Thank you so much for your precious help.
Sabby from Adelaide, South Australia

Gaye said...

Thank you! As usual, I learned so much from your tutorial! Can't wait to get some free time to play with this! You're the best!

Tali said...

Totally rockin' tut, Amanda! I am loving this one. It perfectly explains everything to me, total time saver!! I'm really looking forward to the text/journaling tut - that never fails to throw me for a loop!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do these for us.

Candy said...

Just wanted to say thank you! Your tutorials (and designs) are so easy to understand and awesome to work with!!

Amanda Sevall said...

This is an amazing tutorial!! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain and give such clear examples. You rock!! :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks SO much for such a GREAT tut! Have needed a reference like this for a long time! Printed, and will get used a LOT!

Wendy said...

Excellant job Ma'am and love the examples at the end. Thank you!

joelsgirl_Kellie said...

omgosh, girl, you are AMAZING! Thanks os much for explaining all of this.

Helen said...

You so rock A!!! This tut is worked so hard on it. Thank you. It is a PERFECT summary of what we all wonder and work our ways through. Great job. Trial and error has just been cut in half.

Liz said...

you are awesome my dear!! (((((HUGS)))))

belle said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. Very informative and well written.

Howlerpost said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. Your visuals are great! I would like to learn more about the history brush tool and snapshot

SuzyQ said...

Thanks for explaining so well, with pics and paper. Best I've found so far. And I love the quick reference tables you made, too. Brilliant!

Rachel said...

You have no idea how wonderful this is. I did a search a few weeks ago to see if I could find this exact thing! And the reference chart is amazing. Love it so much-thank you for sharing!!!!

Arya said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!!! This is just what I asked for, Amanda! Scrapping has got a whole new dimension thanks to you!!!!

Frany said...

thank you!!!! I now understand how to do. I've try to make the translation with the french version of the PS CS3, it's more easier for me now. Sometimes, if you can put some screen copy in order to see the different menus/action from PS used, that will be great, i will then be able to refind them in my french version. Thanks again, that's a tremendous job to do such things for us. xxxx

Marlene said...

I just want to tell you how much I love your tutorials. They go into much more depth and they get me excited to try new things in my digital scrapbooking. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.:)

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! Thank you so much for this tutorial! It is extremely helpful!!!


natalie said...

I LOVE your tutorials. I have foundn all of them to be so helpful! Thank you so much!

Stefani said...


MissD said...

Thank you Amanda! I love the examples side by side. I really look forward to your tutorials. Please keep 'em coming!

Monique said...

Thanks again, Amanda! I love all the illustrations to go with the things you explain. I am a visual learner.....

lynette said...

i definitely need to print this out! thanks for this...must have taken you forever!

baflien said...

This is great!! It will be great as a reference!! Thanks alot!!!!!

verabear said...

I just skimmed over this but this definitions and samples are definitely informative. Thank you so much for posting something like this. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Great tutorial...looking forward to your next one(s).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very informative tutorial. It is one I will be refering back to often. I just love the final shots of all the options. Thanks for sharing..

Ami/elderscrapper said...

Wow, just found this today and did what you suggested. I followed the tutorial with my own examples. What a great way to deepen my understanding of how much can be accomplished with these blending modes. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

A fantastic tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

fpy said...

Hello Amanda,

I find all your tutorials easy to follow and useful. This one is very well done. I use blending modes all the time but have never really understood them (I just scroll through all the modes till I find the one I like best). Now I have a nice reference page thanks to you.

I appreciate the time you take to make these tutorials.

Thank you so much,


No Reimer Reason said...

I enjoyed this tutorial very much. The examples for each blending option were so helpful. Thank you for the work you put into this!

Wendy Davis said...

This was awesome! I've been playing around with blending modes and having wonderful things happen but not really understanding why. Thanks for the great explanations!

wrigleysmomjen said...

This is absolutely fantastic! I especially love the comparison sets you made for each example. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this for us!

Mary Ann said...

Sweet tutorial, very helpful!! Thank you for taking the time to write up all this information for us.

charlie said...

great tutorial..TFS!!!!!!

Liz said...

AMAZING tutorial (again)
Thanks for taking the time to share and I am so glad I found you. Your work and designing are so inspiration. I love the cleanness of your layouts, but the impact is stunning.

Cherismoore said...

I just love this tutorial! I have been following along and have lost track of time!!! Thanks, that was great. I have read alot of tutorials on blending modes and I have to say your's was the best.. hands down!

schneeflocke said...

just discovered you blog and the great tutorials, love them, the site is in my favorites now, thank you so much!

Digital Scrapbooking Grandma said...

This is by far the best tutorial I've seen on blending modes. It can make a photoshopper out of anyone!I just found your blog today and will be visiting regularly. You explain things so clearly with no mumbo jumbo!Thanks so much. I loved the text tutorial also. Great work!

braydensmom said...

hi. just poking through your blog and came across this toutorial. i use blending modes all the time but the reference pictures at the bottom rock! so i'm going to print them out. nicely laid out for newbie's! i'll have to direct my friend over here who would learn a lot from this and love it! ;o)

Joseph Francis said...

Very good tutorial. Thank you.

Here's an interesting use for 'hard mix' that combines a black and white photo and a pattern.

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ikha said...

wow it's a great tutorial

Loulou said...

Merci pour ce fabuleux tutoriel!!!

Papel y Diseño said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information with us!!! it`s a very interesting tutorial..

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