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Blending Modes Explained – Complete Guide to Photoshop Blend Modes

September 5, 2019

Welcome back to another very exciting tutorial
here at the My name is Jesus Ramirez and you can find
me on Instagram @JRfromPTC. In this tutorial, we’re going to discuss blending
modes. I will go through every single Blending Mode
in Photoshop and explain how it works. This video is actually part of my course on
working with Color in Photoshop. If you would like to find out more about this
course, there’s a link to it down below in the description. If this is your first time at the Photoshop
Training Channel, don’t forget to click that Subscribe button. Okay, let’s get started. In this video, we’re going to explore Blending
Modes and how they work. Blend Modes or Blending Modes are a great
way to expand the power of layers in Photoshop. A Blending Mode takes the pixels of one layer
and blends them with the pixels of another layer to create a completely new effect. Blending Modes become a powerful tool in many
areas of Photoshop, including color adjustments. For this course, I decided to include a comprehensive
guide into Blending Modes so that you could wisely choose which to use for your projects. Originally, I was going to do a quick overview,
but instead, I decided to spend a little more time and give you a complete guide into Blending
Modes, which will hopefully be the last Blending Modes guide that you will ever need. Before we start, I would like to point out,
that even if you have an older version of Photoshop, you could follow along this video. The 19 original Blending Modes have been around
since Layers were first introduced in Photoshop 3.0 back in 1994. Five new Blending Modes were added in Photoshop
7 in 2002 along with the Fill slider, then one more Blending Mode in Photoshop CS in
2003. The two newest blending modes were added to
Photoshop CS5 in 2010. Currently, we have 27 Blending Modes or 30
Blending Modes, if you include the two extra Blending Modes for the Paint Tools and the
extra Blending Mode for layer groups. In case you’re wondering, I’m using Photoshop
CC to record this video, but again, you should be able to follow along with any version that
you have. Blending Modes do a whole lot more than just
adjust the Fill or Opacity. The way the layers blend is determined by
the algorithm of the selected Blending Mode. Blending Modes can be applied to any item
in the Layers panel including text layers, adjustment layers and even groups, which makes
Blending Modes an excellent way to create non-destructive effects. You can always come back and adjust the Fill,
Opacity or even switch to a different Blending Mode. The 27 blending modes that you can apply to
a layer are found near the upper left corner of the Layers panel in an unlabeled drop-down
menu. By default, all layers are set to “Normal,”
but you can click on the drop-down menu and select any other Blending Mode. All the painting tools in Photoshop, such
as the Brush tool, also have Blending Modes. They even include two additional Blending
Modes not found in the Layers panel–Behind and Clear. In this video, we will primarily focus on
how Blending Modes work with layers, but the principles are universal, and they will work
in a very similar fashion with other tools. When working with Blending Modes, Photoshop
blends the pixels by performing a blend operation on each pixel of the Blend layer against its
corresponding pixel in the Base layer. Put simply, the blend is applied to a single
pixel at a time to get the resulting blend. To make things easier to understand, I’ll
refer to pixels as “colors” since the word color may help your mind create a more
accurate representation of what is going on. But we’re always talking about pixels. You should also remember these three terms
to understand how Blending Modes work–Base, Blend and Result. The Base is the original color. It is usually found directly below the Blend
color. The Blend is the color that is being applied
to the Base color. The mix of the Base and the Blend colors is
the Result. In other words, Base + Blend=Result. How the Base and the Blend colors mix depends
on the algorithm or Blending Mode that you select. Each of the 27 Blending Modes has a different
algorithm, a mathematical equation, that utilizes luminance levels, brightness and darkness,
to determine how the colors will blend. And don’t worry, there’s not going to be any
math in this video. Knowing the mathematics behind each Blend
Mode is not required for you to understand the aesthetics of the result. You can surely master Blending Modes without
knowing any of the equations or the math behind them. Before we start, let’s switch the workspace
to “Essentials” so that we remove some of the panels we created earlier, so that
we have more room to work with and we have fewer things to distract us. Let’s start by looking at the file that
we will use in this video to demonstrate how Blending Modes work. This file is included in the course asset
folder. The bottommost layer is an image of Venice,
Italy. It will be our “Base” layer. For the Blend layer, we have a graphic called
“Luminosity.” It shows different luminance values. On the top left, you have blocks that go from
Black to White in increments of 10%. Black is 0% brightness; then there is 10%
brightness, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%–which is 50% gray–all the way up to 100% brightness which
is, of course, white. In the center, we have a gradient that goes
from black to white and it shows the 256 levels of luminosity. You’ll remember this from the previous video
in this course on how colors work in 8-bit RGB images. At the bottom, we have three blocks–black
and white on the sides and a 50% gray block in the center. Also, notice the Black bar on top and the
white bar at the bottom. We also have this Color layer which will help
us understand how blending modes work with layers that contain color. This layer contains three color wheels, including
a dark and bright color wheel, then a gradient of colors. And six blocks of colors that represent the
primary colors from the additive and subtractive color systems. Red, Green and Blue for RGB. And Cyan, Magenta and Yellow for CMYK. And as you learned in a previous video in
the course, these colors are opposites of each other. In the Layers panel, open the Blending Mode
dropdown by clicking on it. The dropdown will reveal a list of Blending
Modes that you can apply to a layer. To make things easier for us, Photoshop has
arranged the Blending Modes into different categories. Unfortunately, these categories are not labeled,
but you can see the dividers that represent the different groups of Blending Modes. Enable the layer called “Categories,”
which contains a list of all the Blending Modes, along with the categories that they
belong to. The 27 Blending Modes are divided into six
categories–Normal, Darken, Lighten, Contrast, Inversion and Component. Also, note that if you are working with 32-bit
images, only 15 Blending Modes are available. You can change the Blending Mode of a layer
by first selecting the Blend layer, then clicking on the dropdown and selecting any of the Blending
Modes on the list, or by using the keyboard shortcut Shift +(plus) to go down to the next
Blending Mode, in this case, Dissolve, or by pressing Shift -(Minus) to go up the list
back to Normal. Keep in mind that if you have a painting tool
active, this shortcut will change the Blending Mode of the tool instead of the layer. To prevent this from happening, get in the
habit of pressing V on the keyboard to select the Move tool, then press Shift plus or Shift
minus to scroll through the Blending Modes. Another important thing to note with this
keyboard shortcut is that if the Focus–the blue highlight–is around the dropdown menu,
the shortcut will not work. Simply hit Enter or Return on the Mac to remove
the focus from the dropdown, then this keyboard shortcut should work. As I’ve already mentioned, “Normal”
is the default Belding Mode. Opaque pixels will cover the pixels directly
below them without any math or algorithm applied to them. You can, of course, reduce the opacity of
the layer to reveal the pixels below. Opacity and Fill will give you the same result
in 19 out of the 27 blending modes. However, there are eight Blending Modes that
give you different results when you use Fill compared to Opacity. I will point out these eight special Blending
Modes as I go through the list. The second Blending Mode in the Normal category
is Dissolve. At 100% opacity, there is no change and the
resulting blend looks exactly the same as the Normal Blending Mode. But by reducing the Opacity, you will see
you will see a diffusion dither pattern or random specks that become more scattered as
you reduce the Opacity. The Dissolve Blending Mode isn’t blending
any pixels. It is only selecting areas to reveal, based
on the Opacity, which is why Dissolve is in the Normal category, as it only shows the
pixels below when the Opacity of the layer is reduced. The second category in the list of Blending
Modes is Darken. As the name implies, the Blending Modes in
this group will turn the “Result” colors darker. This is because the darker pixels on the Blend
layer remain opaque while the brighter pixels become translucent. In other words, anything that is white will
become invisible and anything that is darker than white is going to have some darkening
effect to the pixels below it. The first Blending Mode in this group is Darken. The Darken Blending Mode looks at the luminance
values in each of the RGB channels and selects either the base color or blend color depending
on which is darker. Simply put, this Blending Mode does not blend
pixels. It only compares the base and blend colors
and keeps the darkest of the two. If the blend layer and the base layer color
are the same, then there is no change. By looking at the result of the blend, you
can see that white gets completely disregarded because everything is darker than white. In these darker tones, around the sky, you
can see that there is some change because the colors are darker than those found in
the base layer. Of course, black and darker grays will return
the most drastic changes. Notice that the black bar on top and the black
block on the bottom left remained unchanged. They are solid black, and of course, there
is nothing that could be darker than black in the layer below it. Even though, this Blending Mode deals with
dark and bright tones, you can still apply it to layers that contain color. By enabling the Color layer, you will see
that the colors that are darker than the ones found in the base layer are kept. The bright color wheel on the right side is
mostly transparent because most of the pixels found inside of it are brighter than the pixels
in the base layer. The next Blending Mode in this group is Multiply. This is one of Photoshop’s most popular Blending
Modes. I’m sure that you have used it many times
before. If not, you will start very soon. This Blending Mode multiplies the luminosity
of the base color by the blend color. The resulting color is always a darker color. White produces no change, making it a great
Blending Mode for darkening images or creating shadows. As you can see, the black pixels remain and
there are different levels of darkening depending on the luminosity values of the Blend layer. A good representation of how the Multiply
Blending Mode works is by looking at the gradient. Notice how it slightly increases the darkness
of the image below it as the colors in the gradient get darker. By enabling the “Color” layer and changing
the Blending Mode to Multiply, you will see a similar darkening effect, but with color. Notice that the bright color wheel only produces
a slight darkening effect and that is because those colors are very bright. You can compare the Multiply Blending Mode
to a projector with two slides put on top of each other and projected simultaneously. The image on the screen will look dark because
the light is forced to pass through two slides, weakening the intensity of the light. If I duplicate the Venice layer by pressing
Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac, and set the duplicate layer to Multiply, you’ll see
a darker version of the original. This is an excellent technique to darken images
that are overexposed or too bright. But, here’s a pro tip, if you would like
to do this, don’t duplicate the layer. Instead, create an adjustment layer such as
Curves or Levels and change the Blending Mode to Multiply. This will give you the same result, but with
a much smaller file size and the ability to make adjustments to the image, in this case,
using curves. The next Blending Mode in the Darken group
is Color Burn. This is also the first of the eight special
Blending Modes in Photoshop that react differently when Opacity is adjusted compared to Fill. This Blending Mode gives you a darker result
than Multiply by increasing the contrast between the base and the blend colors, resulting in
more highly saturated midtones and reduced highlights. The result is very similar to the effect you
would get when you use the Burn Tool to darken an image. The next Blending Mode in the list is Linear
Burn. It is the second of the eight special Blending
Modes. It is also one of the five new Blending Modes
introduced in Photoshop 7 in 2002. Linear Burn decreases the brightness of the
base color based on the value of the blend color. The result is darker than Multiply, but less
saturated than Color Burn. Linear Burn also produces the most contrast
in darker colors than any of the other Blending Modes in the Darken group. The last Blending Mode in this group is Darker,
which is very similar to Darken. This Blending Mode does not blend pixels. It simply compares the base and the blend
colors, and it keeps the darkest of the two. The difference is that Darker Color looks
at the composite of all the RGB channels, whereas Darken looks at each individual RGB
channel to come up with a final blend. The next group of Blending Modes is Lighten. You can think of the Lighten Blending Modes
as the opposites of Darken. The opposite of Darken would be Lighten. The opposite of Multiply will be Screen. The opposite of Color Burn is Color Dodge. The opposite of Linear Burn is Linear Dodge. The opposite of Darker Color is Lighter Color. If I change the Blending Mode of the Luminosity
layer to Lighten, you will see that the opposite happens as when we applied the Darken Blending
Mode. With Darken, we kept the black bar and the
darker colors. With Lighten, we keep the white bar and the
lighter colors. The Lighten Blending Mode takes a look at
the base color and blend color, and it keeps whichever one of the two is the lightest. If the blend colors and the base colors are
the same, then no change is applied. As with the Darken blending mode, Lighten
uses the three RGB channels separately when blending the pixels. The second Blending Mode in the Lighten category
is Screen, which is the opposite of Multiply. Like Multiply, Screen is a very popular Blending
Mode to use in Photoshop. Screen multiplies the inverse of the blend
and base colors. The result color is always a brighter color. Black produces no change, making Screen a
great Blending Mode for brightening images or creating highlights. As you can see in the Luminosity layer, white
stays and there are different levels of lightening depending on the luminosity values of the
blend layer. A good representation of how the Screen Blending
Mode works is by looking at the gradient. Notice how it increases the brightness of
the image below it as the colors in the gradient get brighter. Of course, the changes also happen with layers
that have color. Notice, in this case, the dark color wheel
only produced a slight brightening effect because the colors in it are very dark. The third Blending Mode in the Lighten group
is Color Dodge and it is the third of the eight special blending modes, so, Opacity
and Fill with give you different results. The Color Dodge Blending Mode gives you a
brighter result than Screen by decreasing the contrast between the base and blend colors,
resulting in saturated midtones and blown out highlights. The effect is very similar to the result that
you would get when using the Dodge Tool to brighten up an image. Linear Dodge (Add), another of the Blending
Modes introduced in Photoshop 7 in 2002 looks at the color information in each channel and
brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the brightness. Blending with black produces no change. Linear Dodge (Add) produces similar, but stronger
results than Screen or Color Dodge. Next on the list is Lighter Color, which is
very similar to Lighten. This Blending Mode does not blend pixels. It simply compares the base and blend colors,
and it keeps the brightest of the two. The difference is that Lighter Color looks
at the composite of all the RGB channels, whereas Lighten looks at each individual RGB
channel to come up with a final blend. The next category of Blending Modes is Contrast. The Blending Modes in this category use complimentary
Blending Modes to create the blend. In other words, Photoshop checks to see if
the colors are darker than 50% gray or lighter than 50% gray. If the colors are darker than 50% gray, a
darkening Blending Mode is applied. If the colors are brighter than 50% gray,
a brightening Blend Mode is applied. With the exception of Hard Mix, all the Blending
Modes in this category turn 50% gray transparent. The first Blending Mode in the Contrast group
is Overlay–another one of Photoshop’s most widely used Blending Modes. Overlay is a combination of Multiply and Screen
with the base layer always shining through. Overlay uses the Screen Blending Mode at half
strength on colors lighter than 50% gray and the Multiply Blending Mode at half strength
on colors darker than 50% gray; 50% gray itself becomes transparent. Also, note that “half-strength” does not
mean, Opacity at 50%. Another way to think about Overlay is by thinking
of shifting midtones. Dark blend colors shift the midtones to darker
colors. Light tones shift the midtones to brighter
colors. One difference between the Overlay Blending
Mode and the other Contrast Blending Modes is that it makes its calculations based on
the brightness of the color in the base layer. All of the other Contrast Blending Modes make
their calculations based on the brightness of the blend layer. Another thing to note is that Overlay, alongside
Hard Light, is part of the first set of Commuted Blending Modes. A set of commuted Blending Modes will give
you the same result when you apply one Blending Mode to the blend layer, as when you apply
the corresponding Commuted Blending Mode to the base layer, and then reversing the order
of the layers. In other words, if you apply the Overlay Blending
Mode to the blend layer, you will get the same result, as when you apply the Hard Light
Blending Mode to the base layer, then reverse the order of the layers. The second pair of Commuted Blending Modes
is Luminosity and Color. We will discuss them in a few moments. The next Blending Mode is Soft Light, which
is very much like Overlay. It applies either a darkening or lightening
effect depending on the luminance values, but in a much more subtle way. You can think of Soft Light as a softer version
of Overlay without the harsh contrast. The third Blending Mode in the Contrast group
is Hard Light, which, as we just discussed, is part of the first set of Commuted Blending
Modes alongside Overlay. Hard Light combines the Multiply and Screen
Blending Modes using brightness values of the blend layer to make its calculations,
while Overlay uses the base layer. The results with Hard Light tend to be intense. In many cases, you will have to reduce the
Opacity to get better results. Also, even though Hard Light sounds like it
would have something in common with Soft Light, it does not. It is, of course, much more closely related
to Overlay. And to show you this relationship, I’m going
to set the Luminosity layer to Overlay, then open the History panel by going into Window
and selecting History. In the history panel, I can create a snapshot
of this History State, by clicking on this icon. I’ll call it “Overlay.” I can now always come back to this point by
clicking on this snapshot. I can now change the Luminosity layer back
to Normal, then swap the base layer and Luminosity layer, so I will click and drag the base layer
above the luminosity layer and change the base layer’s Blending Mode to Hard Light. I can then create a snapshot for this history
state. I will call it “Hard Light,” of course. Then, if I click between the Overlay and Hard
Light snapshots, you will see that they look exactly the same. The only difference besides the Blending Mode
is the order of the layers. So, now, you can see the relationship of those
Commuted Blending Modes. And I’m just going to click on Overlay and
change the Blending Mode to Vivid Light, which is the next Blending Mode in the list. Vivid Light is also one of those five Blending
Modes introduced in 2002 with Photoshop 7. You can think of Vivid Light as an extreme
version of Overlay and Soft Light. Anything darker than 50% gray is darkened
and anything lighter than 50% gray is lightened. Vivid Light is one of those other Blending
Modes where you want to adjust the Opacity since 100% Opacity is generally too strong. Also, this is the fifth blending mode of eight
that gives you different results when you reduce the fill compared to the opacity. Linear Light, the sixth of the 8 special Blending
Modes, also introduce in Photoshop 7, uses a combination of Linear Dodge Blending on
lighter pixels and Linear Burn on darker pixels. Typically, the result colors are extreme and
you may want to use the Fill or Opacity sliders to adjust them. I prefer using the Fill slider for this Blending
Mode. The next Blending Mode in the list is Pin
Light, which is the fifth and last Blending Mode released in 2002 with Photoshop 7. Pin Light performs a Darken and Lighten Blending
Mode simultaneously. This is an extreme Blending Mode that can
result in patches or blotches and it completely removes all midtones. The center of the image is, of course, unaffected
because this is where we have the 50% grays, but you can see that the midtones in the edges
of the image are completely gone. Hard Mix is both the seventh blending mode
in the Contrast group and the seventh of the eight special Blending Modes. Hard Mix was introduced in Photoshop CS back
in 2003. Hard Mix applies the blend by adding the value
of each RGB channel into the blend layer to the corresponding RGB channel in the base
layer, resulting in a loss of a lot of detail. The result color can only be black, white
or any of the six primary colors–red, green, blue, cyan, magenta or yellow. By looking at the result, you can see that
most of the detail has been lost and we only see those primary colors. The same thing happens with the Color layer. This is one of those extreme Blending Modes,
but you can use Opacity and Fill to reduce the effect and get results that you can work
with. Fill will probably give you the better option
for reducing the effect of this Blending Mode. The next group of Blending Modes in the list
is Inversion. The Inversion Blending Modes blend the layers
based on the difference between the two layers. In other words, the Blending Mode looks for
variations in the layers to create the blend. The first Blending Mode in this category is
Difference. This is also the eighth and final Blending
Mode that reacts differently when Fill is reduced compared to Opacity. The Difference Blending Mode applies the blend
by setting the resulting pixel to the value of the difference between the blend pixel
and the base pixel. Blending white inverts the color value and
blending black result in no change. The resulting image clearly represents this
effect. The black and dark areas of the luminosity
layer remained virtually unchanged, while the lighter tones inverted the colors. If you duplicate the base layer by pressing
Ctrl J, that’s Command J on the Mac, and change the Blending Mode of the duplicate
to Difference, the image will turn black. Identical areas turn black because there is
no difference between them. Small differences darken the result, while
large differences lighten the result. If I select the Move tool by pressing the
V key on the keyboard and use the arrow keys to nudge the layer, you will see the variance
of the tonal values in each pixel. This technique is great for comparing the
alignment of layers with similar content. The Second Blending Mode in this category
is Exclusion. Exclusion gives you similar results as Difference. Blending with white inverts the base color
values. Blending with black produces no change. Blending with 50% gray produces 50% gray. The next Blending Mode is Subtract, which
is one of the two newest Blending Modes, first introduced in Photoshop CS5 in 2010. Subtract simply subtracts pixel values from
the base layer. This Blending Mode drastically darkens pixels
by subtracting brightness. White has no effect, but the darker colors
lighten the image. Only as the blend values get brighter does
the result get darker. Notice how the light areas of the gradient
are almost pure black, while the dark areas of the gradient produced no change. The next Blending Mode is Divide, also, introduced
in 2010 in Photoshop CS5. Divide produces the opposite effect as Subtract. White has no effect, but the darker colors
lighten the image. Only as the blend values get darker, does
the result gets brighter. Notice how the dark areas of the gradient
are almost pure white, while the light areas of the gradient produced no change. The final category in the list of Blending
Modes is Component. The Blending Modes in this category use a
combination of hue, saturation and luminosity to perform the blend. Let’s take a look a Hue first. We will apply the Hue Blending Mode to the
Luminosity layer first, which turns the image into grayscale, that’s because none of the
pixels in the luminosity layer have color. The Hue Blending Mode preserves the luminosity
and saturation of the base pixels while adopting the hue of the blend pixels. The Hue Blending Mode can be used to change
hues in an image while maintaining the tonal and saturation values of the original image. By turning on the “Color” layer and setting
the Blending Mode to Hue, you will see that the blend layer did not affect the saturation,
lightness or darkness of the image. The only thing that changed was the Hue. The second Blending Mode in this category
is Saturation. The Saturation Blending Mode preserves the
luminosity and hue of the base layer while adopting the saturation of the blend layer. A black and white blend layer also turns the
image into grayscale because none of the pixels in the luminosity layer have saturation. The third Blending Mode in this category is
Color. The Color Blending Mode preserves the luminosity
of the base layer while adopting the hue and saturation of the blend layer, making this
blending mode ideal for coloring monochromatic images. Also, Color, along with the Luminosity Blending
Mode, is the second pair of Commuted Blending Modes. Once again, a set of Commuted Blending Modes
will give you the same result when you apply one Blending Mode to the blend layer, as when
you apply the corresponding Commuted Blend Mode to the base layer, and then reversing
the order of the layers. In other words, if you apply the Color Blending
Mode to the blend layer, you will get the same result as when you apply the Luminosity
Blending Mode to the Base layer and then reversing the order of the layers. As you might have guessed, Luminosity, the
last Blending Mode on the list, preserves the hue and saturation of the base layer,
while adopting the luminosity of the blend layer. This blending mode is one that I use a lot
in color correction and color toning, particularly, because it works great with the Black and
White adjustment layer. Let me show you what I mean by that. Create a new Black and White adjustment layer. This adjustment layer turns the image black
and white. In the Properties panel, you can adjust the
luminosity of the original colors by dragging the sliders. Notice that by dragging the blue slider, I
adjust the sky because there is blue in the sky. But, if we change the adjustment layer’s
Blending Mode to Luminosity, we will get the color back, and we can adjust the luminance
values of those colors with the sliders. So, now, I’m adjusting the luminosity but
I get to keep the colors. Before we finish this video, I would like
to take you through three more Blending Modes not found in the list that we’ve been looking
at. First, let’s learn about the extra blending
mode in groups. We will work with this group titled “Group
Blending Modes.” When you select a group, you will notice that
the default blending mode is not Normal. Instead, it is “Pass Through.” The Pass Through Blending Mode tells Photoshop
to treat all the layers within a group to behave as if they were part of the regular
layer stack and not part of the group, and blend with the layers below. However, if you changed the Pass Through Blending
Mode to any of the other Blending Modes, Photoshop will first blend the layers in the group,
then it will blend the resulting composite with the layers below it using the Blending
Mode that you selected. Another way of thinking about it is that this
is the same result as merging the contents of the group and then applying the Blending
Mode. For this reason, you can use it to create
some great effects especially when compositing. In this group, I have two layers–a photo
of the sky and a group that contains an image of a jet. If I create a new Curves Adjustment Layer
inside of the Jet group and apply a dramatic change, you will notice that it will affect
all the layers below it. But, if I change the Jet group’s Blending
Mode to Normal, you will see that the adjustment layer is now only affecting the contents of
the group. I can duplicate the Jet layer, by pressing
Ctrl J, that’s Command J on the Mac, and then move the plane to the side by using the Move
tool. And you will notice that the duplicate will
also be affected because it is in the same group. Any adjustment layer in the Jet group will
only affect the contents of the group. Once again, it is the same result as merging
all the layers in the group, Ctrl E, Command E on the Mac, and changing it to the selected
Blending Mode. In this case, we chose Normal, which is also
the current Blending Mode, so we don’t need to change it, and, of course, it looks the
same. You always want to work non-destructively
so I will undo that change, Ctrl Alt Z, that’s Command Option Z on the Mac, to Undo. I’m going to disable this group. The final Blending Modes that we are going
to talk about are Behind and Clear, which can be found in any of the painting tools,
such as the Brush tool. You can select the Brush tool by pressing
B on the keyboard. From the Options bar, you can select the Blending
Mode. Notice that the 27 layer Blending Modes are
here, along with Behind and Clear. Let’s talk about Behind first because that
is the most interesting of the two. Select Behind from the Blending Mode dropdown,
then select blue as your foreground color. You can do so by double clicking on the foreground
color and selecting blue and pressing OK. The exact color is not important. Then, create a new layer and paint on it. Then, open the Foreground Color Picker once
again and select red, then I’m going to continue painting on the layer. Notice that the Brush tool works as expected,
but notice that I cannot paint over the Blue areas. The Behind Blending makes it so that you can
only paint on transparent pixels. In other words, you can only paint behind
opaque pixels. The Behind blending mode is actually the opposite
of clicking on the “Lock Transparent Pixels” icon in the Layers panel. Using this lock will make it so that you can
only paint on opaque pixels and not transparent pixels. If click on the “Lock Transparent Pixels”
icon you will see that Photoshop will automatically change the brush’s Blending Mode to Normal. If click on the dropdown to reveal all the
Blending Modes, you will see that both Behind and Clear are grayed out. I’m going to unlock the layer by clicking
on the “Lock Transparent Pixels” icon, then I will change the Blending Mode to Clear. The Clear Blending mode clears pixels. In other words, it deletes them. It works very much the same as the Eraser
Tool. I haven’t found much use for it. But it is there available for you, in case
you can come up with a creative way to use it. We’ve already discussed the eight special
Blending Modes that give you different results when you adjust Opacity compared to Fill. The one thing that I didn’t mention is that
these blending modes also have another thing in common. To show you what that is, I’m going to open
the Layer Style window by double clicking on the side of the “Black – 50% Gray – White”
layer, which will be our blend layer in this example. From the Layer Style window, you can change
the Blending Mode of the layer, as well as the Opacity and Fill. This is no different than making the adjustments
from the Layers panel. They both give you the same results. The reason we’re in the Layer Style window
is that it gives us access to the Transparency Shapes Layers checkbox under Advanced Blending. Before I uncheck it, I’m going to select
the first of the eight Special Blending Modes–Color Burn–so that you can see what it looks like
when the checkbox is checked, which is default, and how it looks when we uncheck Transparency
Shapes Layers. Notice that the edges blend differently and
in my opinion, it is a better blend in the case of all of the eight special Blending
Modes. This is Linear Burn, checked and unchecked. Color Dodge gives us a great result with the
brighter pixels. Notice how bright and how hot the image looks
in those areas. It looks like a bright light shining on it. You can, then, reduce the Fill, to decrease
the intensity of the highlight. This is a great technique for creating specular
highlights in your image. If I go down the list of the eight special
Blending Modes, you will see that they will blend differently when the Transparency Shapes
Layer checkbox is unchecked. Then by using Fill, instead of Opacity, you
get an extra level of blends. If we press OK to commit the changes, you
will see that the layer has an icon to the side of it indicating that the checkbox was
unchecked, creating an advanced blend. I’m going to end this video by letting you
know that each Blending Mode has a keyboard shortcut, except for Subtract and Divide,
the two Blending Modes added in Photoshop CS5 in 2010, but that’s okay. I don’t recommend learning all the keyboard
shortcuts. Only learn the ones that you use the most. Most of the time I only use Screen, Multiply,
Overlay, Soft Light, Color and Luminosity. So those are the only keyboard shortcuts that
I have memorized. You can use Alt Shift on Windows and Option
Shift on the Mac, and the corresponding letter to get you the Blending Mode that you would
like to apply to a layer. Once again, keep in mind that if you have
a painting tool active, this keyboard shortcut will change the Blending Mode for the tool
instead of the layer. To prevent this from happening, get in the
habit of pressing V on the keyboard to select the Move tool, then apply the keyboard shortcut
combination for the Blending Mode that you would like to use. And that’s it for my free preview of my
color in Photoshop course. If you would like to find out more about the
course, check the link in the description. If you enjoyed this video, then don’t forget
to subscribe, click on the Like button, and share this video with a friend. Also, subscribe to the PTC newsletter to get
more tips and tricks in your Inbox. Thank you for watching and I will talk to
you again soon.


  • Reply Gerald Prost December 5, 2017 at 2:32 am

    I have been using Photoshop for many year; however, I didn't realize how little I knew about the blending modes. Thanks for doing this.

  • Reply André Luís M. Santos December 12, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Excellent video, Gee! Amazing!

  • Reply 刘景三 December 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

    love this tutorial video,thank you sir!

  • Reply gnazlis December 20, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    "Clear" Blending mode works best for illustrators when they spend time to create a complex brush and they use this same brush as an eraser too instead of repeating the process.

  • Reply Shifty Player Unknown December 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm


  • Reply stillFLiP December 27, 2017 at 2:11 am

    This was always a guessing game for me. Thanks for the explanation!

  • Reply QZ AU January 3, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Thanks!! great video

  • Reply Ario Angelo January 3, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    amazing tutorial!!

  • Reply Giorgio January 6, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Very very good tutorial. Thanks.

  • Reply Art Altman January 13, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Superb.   Excellent teacher.   Just the right amount of detail and pacing.   Thank you.

  • Reply LBofcourse January 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Fantastic video. Very well organized. I learned a lot.

  • Reply Hamid Mac January 22, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    I just have to say thanks, I used the blending modes before but now i know what I did

  • Reply John Mutch January 25, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Jesus Ramirez is a very professional and articulate instructor. I have enjoyed this tutorial and learn something new every time I view this master -piece. Great job!

  • Reply Carlo Bergamo January 28, 2018 at 11:19 am

    excellent. thank you very much for this clear and complete lesson about blending mode

  • Reply January 29, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Great work PTC. Is it possibile to download somewhere the file .PSD , to test your work on our images ? thank You .

  • Reply classroom February 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    C O O L E X P L A I N

  • Reply David Wingad February 24, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Simply amazing!

  • Reply DESTINY SILVER March 6, 2018 at 12:26 am

    Muy profesional.. Oh My G… You are absolutely fantastic. One of the most knowledgeable tutorials explaining the function and meaning of each of this menus. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and educating us in such a nice way. Gracias!

  • Reply mkc8b photography March 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you so much for making this comprehensive tutorial! I have been using a few blending modes very often based on the results, but to get a glimpse of what the program is looking at is extremely helpful! Great work!

  • Reply Masum Sharif March 12, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I have tried the passthrough blending mode as like as you have shown in the tutorial, but it doesn't work.
    After increase the value of curve adjustment and then change the group's blending mode passthrough to normal but it's not happening as you have shown in your tutorial.

  • Reply NikHem343 March 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Oh christ the work that went into this. Thank you

  • Reply Muhammad Sattar Khan March 23, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    better than Lynda courses

  • Reply O X Design March 24, 2018 at 10:38 am

    very nice, i like

  • Reply Abiding Happiness March 25, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    HOw to do a diagonal split screen – the one you did for the thumbnail of your video? I spend about 20-25 minutes browsing google and youtube and did not find anything. Can you make a video on that, please? I subscribed and hit the notificationbell in hope that you will make a video on this topic. THank you.

  • Reply Tzvika Stein March 31, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Awesome tutorial. Very clear and informative. Thanks!

  • Reply france firme April 2, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Do you have any illustrator tutorial sir ?

  • Reply DrinkingStar April 3, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Finally someone has explained blending modes rather than saying "use this mode to…". As the old saying goes, "You have taught me how to fish rather than giving me a fish". Thanks.

  • Reply Mary Villa April 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    This is the best video tutorial I've seen on Blend Modes, Jose. Thank you. I have a request. I teach Photoshop and would dearly love to link to your video from my reference materials which I created in InDesign but YouTube blocks the link. Is there another location for this video? I want my students to watch it. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have.

  • Reply Sylvia Browyn April 6, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Your explaination is so clear. Thanks & keep this up 🙂

  • Reply ِahmed issa April 9, 2018 at 8:22 am

    can I have the luminosity layer ?

  • Reply zv more April 10, 2018 at 12:17 am

    oh my my my! where have u been all my life? thank u sir!! u are simply the best!! thank u 🙂

  • Reply falxonPSN April 16, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Epic video. This is great, and the sample gradients you picked were very smart.

  • Reply Ben Mora April 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    If you already know how to use Photoshop and you don't need a tutorial explanation on pretty basic stuff, skip to 10:00.

  • Reply muc2810 April 23, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Amazing explanation. I'm really glad to find that tutorial. Thanks a lot

  • Reply Andreas Vakirtzis April 29, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Thank you, Jesus. Very informative video!

  • Reply phani kumar April 30, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Really Helpful. I can't stop saying thanks to you.

  • Reply Lehis Luguer May 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    excelent tutorial

  • Reply Lengo67 May 4, 2018 at 2:24 am

    That was a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. I've watched this 3 times now (hours apart), and still don't understand at least half of it.

  • Reply Adya May 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Very helpful and precise. thanks for the video.

  • Reply Jim Mauch May 11, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Am I correct in assuming that blend modes combined with blend if in layers can be effective in bringing out saturation and contrast in textures?

  • Reply Doc Undies May 12, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Your tutorials are by far & away the most comprehensive and well explained than any other PS tutorials I've viewed on YT. Thank you for this excellent presentation Jesus.

  • Reply Ravinder Murthy May 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Sir, Do these work in Photoshop cs5 also?

  • Reply Erik Brandt May 17, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Seriously. No joke or hyperbole. The best photoshop tutorial channel on Youtube, possibly the Internet and by extension… The world?! Jesus, you address everything I hate about tutorials and have covered so many topics on things that I've been tempted to do myself simply for the lack of decent ones on YT. It's like you're reading my mind as I watch.. me – "ok.. but what about XYZ?" "Ok.. so here's is XYZ…" – Jesus . You are my new lord and savior.. .. okay that part was a joke.. but seriously man, fantastic job. If you start doing After Effects, Andrew Kramer at Video Copilot will have some proper competition.

  • Reply Yazan Jordan May 19, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    love this tut THank you its rich of info i want

  • Reply Tomáš Mičák May 22, 2018 at 11:37 am

    This ….. is ….. so…. incredibly….. slow.

    Some interesting information, but it could be 14 minutes long, not 41.

  • Reply yamizer0 May 28, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I regret, why I don't find your channel since long time ago..??

  • Reply Nabarun Gogoi June 7, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Too good ❤

  • Reply Luca Costa June 17, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Awesome video, well Done

  • Reply Jany Bardeau June 19, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Amazing, Amazing and Amazing! Thank You for this great video.

  • Reply Peter Michael Mastnak June 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    I am watching your tutorials in Austria (you know, the country WITHOUT the kangoroos 🙂 ) Congrats to your very understandable way to describe the various "problems" with PS. Must say, that, after viewing this blending modes tut, I really do understand many things much better. Thanks!!

  • Reply magni319 July 2, 2018 at 12:01 am

    This is probably the best tutorial I have ever seen in my life. Top quality sound and presentation, comprehensive, to the point, even mentions various exceptions and trivia. You literally can't get better than that.

  • Reply Lomax July 8, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    That was slightly spectacular. Amazing tutorial!

  • Reply musicmachineplayer31 July 19, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Great Tutorial

  • Reply ABDUR Rahman July 20, 2018 at 8:07 am

    comprehensive tutorial in a short span of time

  • Reply BloodyBananas July 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    How come I can’t always use all of my blend modes?

  • Reply ดังตฤณ August 11, 2018 at 5:42 am

    You deserve the first rank. We should pay you. Really!

  • Reply Prasad Hapuarachchi August 15, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Great stuff and i like the teaching method as well. There are many PS experts but they do not know how to teach it to some one else. But your teaching techniques and the flow of the lecture is Very well organized. I have gone through few of your videos and they are very informative and interesting. Congratulations and wish you all the best of luck.

  • Reply Lengo67 August 17, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    +Jesus Ramirez

    Fourth pass. No! I can't follow this. You talk of pinlight which uses darken and lighten blend modes, and even though I have taken notes, I didn't get notes on lighten and darken. I have to go back on the timeline again? Where are each layer discussed with times next to them so I jump to them.

    At the very beginning, you say there are 8 special modes that are affected differently by using either opacity or fill, but you show 9 highlighted blend modes. I was lost here, right at the start!

    Now, I've experimented with layers over the top of a photo and my layers to blend are similar to yours. I see what happening, but I don't understand what's happening. That understanding is the key. Without the understanding, I'm hunting and pecking.

    Also, I've seen similar tubes on this subject, and they fall short too. The closest that is as complete as yours is from f64 academy, but he races through these.

    Fer Pete's sake! THe only thing I really understand is that when you want to affect JUST the luminosity, set it to luminosity mode. For HSL and Balance, use the color or hue blending mode. But I don't really understand these too.

    This is my fourth time around on this. This is the most complete video on the subject, but notes have to be taken to get a real understanding and that understanding is paramount in making things happen quickly and with confidence.

    Bottom line, I'm still lost after four tries!


    I've now been to Adobe's help about blend modes at . Again, I'm lost. This page lists modes that do not exist! And for the ones that do exist, well, here's the text about Lighten blend mode:

    Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the base or blend color—whichever is lighter—as the result color. Pixels darker than the blend color are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change.


  • Reply Lana Dowling August 23, 2018 at 9:16 am

    You are genius!.. Thank you so much for this video, I keep coming back to it during my work!

  • Reply Isao Nago August 26, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    I am very impressed by your teaching/communication method as it is shown in this video. I'm so happy that I found you… thank you soooooou much!!!♡

  • Reply TESTING CHANEL September 13, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    6:48, казалось бы, it would seem

  • Reply nighat sabir September 15, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    whats the nameof your cource

  • Reply emad ali September 16, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Amazing work, but your courses are quiet hard.
    Not for beginners ..

  • Reply sahil September 21, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    When I flatten the image which has a layer which is set to dissolve, the output changes and it doesn't look the same as it did before saving it or flattening it.

  • Reply Davi Jr October 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    thanks man!

  • Reply P. F. October 28, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    I bought a book for 50 Euros a while ago especially for this topic of the blending modes. Nothing is stated in there. Here, this is the most understandable explanation for the blending modes. Thank you so much, Jesús!!!

  • Reply Austin Daniels November 29, 2018 at 6:28 am

    what a comprehensive tutorial, can't even imagine how much efforts are made behind it.
    Thank you guys a lot !

  • Reply KJ December 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Thanks Jesus!

  • Reply Varun Kannan December 17, 2018 at 8:59 am

    my laptop photoshop CC/CS6 keyboard shortcut… Ctrl+Alt+M (Curves) not woking… help me

  • Reply Varun Kannan December 17, 2018 at 9:00 am

    shift+Alt+S (screen) not woking..
    help me

  • Reply Max Renn December 23, 2018 at 2:39 am

    is there a way of reproducing the black and white visualisations of the RGB layers using an adjustment layer? In other words, what adjustment method (and what values) would be needed to produce the same result as clicking on the red channel (for example)? Many thanks for all the great videos, Jesús!

  • Reply Haapavuo January 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    But where can I find a video explaining the math behind the blending modes?

  • Reply David Segic January 17, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Phenomenal tutorial, thank you!

  • Reply ramesh konaje January 17, 2019 at 1:51 pm


    This description was very helpful to me. I'm thankful to you.

  • Reply Vincent Sequeira January 22, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Thank you.

  • Reply Yves Gauvreau January 22, 2019 at 4:18 pm


  • Reply Jay-Dee Purdie January 24, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    WOW! Finally, a comprehensive explanation of blend modes. Thank-you.

  • Reply Lekza February 5, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  • Reply Osmin Camero February 19, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Awesome tutorial, thank you for sharing! Excellent tip on creating a snapshot in the history panel @23:00 as well. I never knew about this before and can see many great benefits from it. Thank you!!

  • Reply Keeper March 6, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Huge fan of shortcuts here. The information about shortcuts for blending modes just blew my mind. Also, super informative, thanks!

  • Reply Carlos Fuertes March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for share. I've learned a new skill and made my workart here

  • Reply Casper Spookey March 17, 2019 at 2:34 am

    Well, you thoroughly confused me… Thanx. lol

  • Reply Claudia Valcich March 19, 2019 at 3:15 am

    I got lost when you demonstrated "Subtract Blend Mode". What you were saying didn't look like what I was seeing (white yields no change; darker colors lighten image); however, it seemed the image on-screen was showing the opposite of that. Then, when you spoke about "Divide", you said it was supposed to be the opposite effect as "Subtract"; yet, you then said it did the same thing (white yields no effect; darker colors lighten image). Can you clarify that?

  • Reply danilo ledezma March 20, 2019 at 3:59 am


  • Reply 37shaula March 23, 2019 at 6:25 am

    That was fantastic! You've explained this better than I ever imagined. Now I do have a question…. In this example you use images with black to white gradients to show what they do when applying blend modes, but how about real life applications? Do I brush on black/white/grey on a new layer?

  • Reply Xhani Xhori April 3, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Superb! Thank you so much.

  • Reply Rich Hughes April 8, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Jesus, why does Photoshop always refer to the primaries as RGB when green is made by mixing yellow, the true primary, with blue?

  • Reply 10521577A April 9, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    18:25 you mean resulting in desaturated midtones?

  • Reply Robert Mckinnon April 25, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Great tutorials.Thanks for your expertise in sharing your knowledge. When I saw the gray scale in this video it reminds me of the great Ansel Adams Zone system.

  • Reply Hank Levesque April 25, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Excellent video! I,m using a Wacom tablet – interested in how you defined your programmable keys. Thanks.

  • Reply Heister Reinsch April 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Do you have another complete guide to blend modes where you explain, when you would use each blend mode in practice. it is very interesting to see and know, what each blendmode does, but i wouldnt have ever an idea when i should choose e.g. hard mix in my every day workflow. it would be great to see what you can achieve by using different blend modes. thank you very much mr ramirez!

  • Reply Zoey Zhou May 1, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Thank you so much for this great great tutorial, so well explained!

  • Reply Devkumar Gupta May 14, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    You made Amazingly simple to understand thoroughly!!!!!!!! Thank you!

  • Reply NewAge Gaming June 2, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Excellent !!!

  • Reply chinchilacomraiva June 6, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    I'm from Brazil and is so sad don't have videos and peoples/teacher witch explain so good this. I'm very grateful because finally understand this

  • Reply Jean Hwang June 7, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Awesome video on blending modes !

  • Reply Phil B June 23, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    This is genius level knowledge of PS.

  • Reply yuta July 7, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    i am a programmer, not an artist. so this video is extremely useful for people like me. thank you.

  • Reply Thomas Foo July 19, 2019 at 12:52 am

    Best guide to the blending mode ever. THANK YOU

  • Reply Cristián Soto August 29, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    I usually watch this video once in a while // Thanks so much!

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