Get creative with Photoshop Blend Modes

Photoshop Blend Modes give you the power to combine layers and images for a huge variety of effects. Read on to learn how these Photoshop effects work, and discover some of the wonderful things you can do with them...

01. Dissolve

A simple pixelated blend

Creates a pixelated blend, the effects of which only become apparent when you begin to lower layer opacity (50% here).

02. Darken

As the name suggests, Darken leaves darker pixels unchanged

Lighter pixels on the top layer are replaced by the colours and tones from the layer below, while darker pixels remain unchanged.

03. Multiply

Base colours are given a boost

Multiplies colours in the layer with those below. Colours on the top layer that are lighter are replaced with those on the lower layer.

04. Color Burn

Colour Burn creates rich results

Increases the contrast between each layer. Light pixels on the top layer don’t affect the colours and tones on the layer below.

05. Linear Burn

Linear Burn leaves top light pixels alone

Lowers the brightness of layers below to reflect the colours of the top layer. Lighter pixels on the top layer produce no change.

06. Darker Color

Darker pixels are reflected

Selects either the top layer’s colour or those on the layer below – whichever is darker – as the resulting colours. 

07. Lighten

Lighter colours on top layers stay in place

The opposite of Darken. Any colours on the top layer that are lighter than the colours underneath will remain visible.

08. Screen

Inverse colours are multiplied

The opposite of Multiply. Works out the inverse of the layer’s colours and multiplies it with those on the layer below.

09. Color Dodge

Create light, vibrant tones with Colour Dodge

Causes lighter tones on the layer to create more vibrant colours and increase contrast. Darker pixels make no difference.

10. Linear Dodge (Add)

Linear Dodge has strong brightening

Similar to Colour Dodge and Screen Blend, but the brightening is stronger. Dark colours make no changes to the colours below.

11. Lighter Color

Layer values are compared with Lighter Color

Compares the colour channel values with the layer below and chooses the higher values to create the resulting colour.

12. Overlay

Overlay has a subtle touch

Provides a subtle way of adding a wash of the lower layer’s colour to the top layer while preserving the lower layer’s detail.

13. Soft Light

Top layers get adjusted with Soft Light

Darkens or lightens the colours of the top layer, depending on the colours of the layer underneath. Like Overlay, but more subtle.

14. Hard Light

Hard Light brightens dark pixels

Multiplies or screens the colours, depending on the colours of the layer underneath. Pixels lighter than 50% grey are lightened.

15. Vivid Light

Colours become more intense

Lightens or darkens colours with more intensity than Soft or Hard Light. If the layer is lighter than 50% grey, the image is lightened.

16. Linear Light

Create greater contrasts with Linear Light

Like Vivid Light, but adjusts brightness rather than contrast. If the layer is lighter than 50% grey, the image is lightened.

17. Pin Light

Darker pixels come to the fore

If a pixel on the layer is lighter than 50% grey and the pixels below are darker, the top pixels are replaced by the ones below.

18. Hard Mix

Drastically change primary colours

Adds the layer’s red, green and blue channel values to those of the lower layer, changing the layer’s pixels to primary colours.

19. Difference

Light colours get inverted

Lighter colours are inverted, and darker colours are replaced by the pixels below. Blending with black makes no change.

20. Exclusion

Colours are inverted with low level contrast

Like Difference, but with less contrast. Lighter colours are inverted, and darker colours are replaced by the pixels below.

21. Subtract

Subtract can create cool results

Studies the colours in each channel, then subtracts the colours in the selected layer from the colours underneath.

22. Divide

Divide produces a negative style image

Examines the colours in each channel and divides the top layer’s colours by the colours in the layer below.

23. Hue

Hue strips away saturation

Mixes the layer colours with the luminance and saturation of the layer below. So the colours remain, but saturation is reduced.

24. Saturation

Vlues get combined for unique results

Combines the saturation values of the top layer’s colour with the luminance and hue values of the colours on the layer below.

25. Color

Low level luminance is brought forwards

Similar to Hue, but mixes the hue and saturation of the top layer’s colour with the luminance of the colours from the lower layer.

26. Luminosity

Detail and colours both have a place in Luminosity

Mixes luminance with the hue and saturation of the layer below; you see detail from the top layer and colour from below.

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