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Lessons:17Length:1.3 hours

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Free Preview: Mastering Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop


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Blending modes in Photoshop are a “workhorse” feature. They perform a lot of heavy lifting and make many of the other features a lot easier, with very little ceremony or attention. Yet the work they do can be nearly irreplaceable when you use them properly.

This course is divided into chapters that match the logical sets of the Blending modes, and each chapter contains instruction on what that set of modes is designed to do. The end of each chapter includes a practical project on how to use the blending modes discussed in that chapter.

As you finish this course, you will have a solid understanding of what the different modes do, and how to make the best use of them. Having a solid understanding of Photoshop’s blending modes can change the way you approach compositing and digital artwork.

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Blending modes in Photoshop are a workhorse feature. They do a lot of the heavy lifting that makes a lot of the other features a lot easier to do. Yet, they do it with very little attention or ceremony. But the work they do can be nearly irreplaceable when you use them properly. Hi, I'm Kirk Nelson, and welcome to Mastering Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop. In this course I will show you exactly what blending modes are, why they do what they do, and how you can use them. At their root Photoshop's blending modes are really just mathematical formulas that determine how pixels in one layer blend with the pixels of the underlying layers. Blending modes are organized into logical groups, or sets. The chapters and projects of this course, align with those groups. We'll start with the normal set. Then the darken, or multiply set, where we explore how to use those blending modes, and add a realistic digital tattoo. After that, we take a look at multiply's opposite twin, the lighten or screen set when we create this ghostly figure from the steam of a coffee cup. The overlay set sits functionally between the screen and multiply set and has great utility in this nondestructive dodge and burn technique. And the last two sets are the inversion and component sets, respectively. Those are not as well used as their earlier counterparts, but we will still take a look at some very practical uses for them. When you finish this course, you will have a solid understanding of what Photoshop's blending modes do. And once you know how to use them, they can change the way you approach compositing, or digital artwork. With that, let's get started on chapter two, which is the normal blending modes.

2. Normal Set

2.1 Normal and Dissolve

Hello everybody. Welcome back to Mastering Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop. This is lesson 2.1, where we take a look at the normal set. In Photoshop the blending modes are separated into a series of different sets. And the first set, is known as the normal set. And it really only contains two blending modes, the normal and the dissolve. And as we look here in the layers panel, and we open up the blending modes menu, you can see where there's lines separating each set. So this top set, the normal set, only has these two, normal and dissolve. Now ironically this top set contains the two that are the simplest to understand. One that is used the most frequently, and one that is used the least frequently. Now it's not hard to understand why normal would be the most frequently used blending mode it's the default blending mode in Photoshop. Every new layer that you create has a normal blending mode. What this means is that it doesn't blend at all it's simply showing the color that's assigned to the pixels on that layer. The only time that this would show a different color is if there's something else blended with it or if you reduce the opacity on this layer. So really the normal blending mode is kind of like the no blending mode. It's just showing pixels at their regular color. Now the dissolved blending mode is a little bit different, and does take a little bit of explanation to understand. It's also the one that is the least used because it doesn't really have a lot of practical application. If we set the blending mode to dissolve on a layer you can see how it adds a bit of noise to the edge around that layer. So you might think it's just adding a bit of fringed edge to it. That's not really the case. What's really happening is this blending mode is taking the areas of pixels that have a bit of reduced opacity to them. And it's creating this noise according to that opacity. So the reason we see it around the edges here is because there's some anti-aliasing going on. And so that there are some pixels that are not fully opaque, so it adds a little bit of that noise effect. For example, if we add a Gaussian blur to this, it increases that noise effect. That's because it's adding more pixels that have low opacity. So there's more transparency there. Therefor, the dissolve effect is more apparent. And as should be expected, when we reduce the opacity of a layer that has the dissolve effect. We see more of that dissolve effect happening in there. That's particularly interesting that the effect doesn't seem to move along with the layer. The layer seems to swim through it. That doesn't mean that this is a totally useless blending mode. There are some practical applications for it. And we'll get into that in the next lesson. The next lesson, lesson 2.2, we'll take a look at exactly what some of those practical applications are.