Adobe Photoshop : Blending Modes

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Make quick and highly effective adjustments to your images using the Blending modes in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Blending modes are a powerful and speedy means of making significant and effective adjustments to your images.

Getting to grips with layers and Blending modes is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to developing your Photoshop skills. Although some Blending modes will probably remain seldom used, you'll find yourself using other modes so often that you'll be wondering what you did before.

If you think of Photoshop's layers as a stack of acetates, Blending modes are your means of determining how the layers interact with each other. The best thing about Blending modes is that you can make adjustments as you go, for instance by using the opacity slider or changing a layer's Blending mode altogether.

These easy-to-follow steps will show you just how easy Blending modes are to work with. You can follow along with your own images if you prefer, or practise using the example image shown here which you'll find included on I the free disc at the back of the magazine.

  1. Soft Light

Description: Soft Light

Soft Light

Duplicate your layer by dragging it onto the Create A New Layer icon at the base of the Layers palette. Then go to the drop-down menu at the top of the Layers palette and select Soft Light blend mode for a swift and simple way of improving the contrast in the image.

  1. Saturation

Description: Saturation


Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the base of the Layers palette and select a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Change the Blending mode to Saturation. Select the reds and then the yellows from the menu and boost the saturation of each.

  1. Hue

Description: Hue


Hue Complete the effect by creating a second Hue/ Saturation adjustment layer and switching the blend mode of this layer to Hue. Select the blues and then the cyans and adjust the hue of each to make them look less cool and more rich and green.

Description: Before: This image has a lot of potential but looks rather flat and dull

Before: This image has a lot of potential but looks rather flat and dull

Description: After: After only a few minutes in Elements, the image has a lot more punch

After: After only a few minutes in Elements, the image has a lot more punch

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