The Power of Using Blending Modes in Photoshop

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The Power of Blending Modes

You won’t believe our second special edition Halloween episode! Explore artistic options and learn how quickly you can accomplish them with a simple Blending Mode change!

Getting Started

For this particular image, we start out by using the Screen blending mode on the skull. This is because the screen mode makes all the blacks in an image vanish. We then use the liquify tool to reshape the skull to fit the layer behind it. We also use a layer mask on the skull layer and then paint over the areas that we don’t want to be visible. Masking can be very helpful when layering images like this.

Another helpful tip is to use the linear gradient, because it creates a seamless transition from black to white.

You can also use a levels adjustment layer to add contrast to any layer. This is helpful when the blending mode leaves too many midtones in your layer.

Global Coloring

To immediately blend all of the colors together, create a new gradient map layer on top of everything. This allows you to choose a color for the dark and light point, and color the entire image based on those colors. Now, any layer that is placed underneath will be affected by those colors.

Hints and Reminders

If there is ever an effect you would like but can’t achieve it with just the blending modes, don’t be afraid to invert your image. In this case we did so with the snake; by inverting the colors first and then choosing a multiply blending mode. This way, the snake that was originally light is now dark. There are also no bright areas because the blending mode eliminated them.

For a grungier look, we used some of our distressed paper from our Phlearn Texture Pack, which can be found here: http://phlearn.com/product/distressed-paper

To blend these into the background, we used the same tactics we used with the skull.

To recap, here are the blending modes that we utilized in this episode!

Screen: eliminates darkest areas, enhances lightest areas
Multiply: Enhances darkest areas, eliminates lightest areas

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