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Tutorial #10 - Basic functions/tools in Photoshop 7 - part 6

Tutorial Type: program tutorial #6
Skill level: beginner
Program used: PS7
Notes: This tutorial is part six (and the final part) of a series that I am going to do that covers the more common tools in Photoshop 7. This series is intended for those who are learning PS7 for the very first time. Be warned, this is image AND text heavy.

You see a lot of tutorials out there that talk about colouring and how to do it and a LOT of them talk about the good 'ol blue exclusion layer. Yes, this is a viable option for creating some very nice colouring but there are so many more options and that's what we're going to take a look at today - blending modes!

I am going to be using this picture of Cillian Murphy from Batman Begins because he's pretty. :P Cropped, resized and prepped we get this:



So let's move on to the blending modes shall we? You'll find them on the layers palette as highlighted below.



There are 22 different blend modes in 6 different sections. Each of the options in each section does something similar to the others but there are differences. I'm going to give you a quick synopsis of each blending mode as provided by the photoshop help file - with clarifications where necessary - and visual examples. If you're anything like me, the visual examples will be much more useful than the text. ;)



Normal
Normal is the default state. Whatever you do - whether it be a fill layer or a brush or gradient - will show up exactly as it does in the preview. Here are some examples (all of these were done on new layers over my base):



Dissolve
Here's what the PS help file has to say: the result color is a random replacement of the pixels with the base color or the blend color, depending on the opacity at any pixel location. Say what? Think of it this way: you know when you drop some alka seltzer tablets into a glass of water and you get all those fun bubbles? The dissolve blending mode is kinda like that - it "dissolves" some of the solid colour to give a speckled look. It doesn't work on solid fills as you can see below and it doesn't work on gradients - at least the one I have selected - but you can see it in the middle with the little fishie thing I drew.



Making your images Darker
Darken
The darken tool looks at the color information in each channel and selects the base or blend color--whichever is darker--as the result color. Pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, and pixels darker than the blend color do not change. You end up with a layer that is a darker shade of the colour you used originally and that has transparency to it so the layer below shows through.



Multiply
The multiply tool looks at the color information in each channel and multiplies the base color by the blend color. The result color is always a darker color. Multiplying any color with black produces black. Multiplying any color with white leaves the color unchanged. You end up with a layer that is a darker shade of the colour you used originally and that has transparency to it so the layer below shows through.



Color Burn
Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast. Blending with white produces no change.



Linear Burn
Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the brightness. Blending with white produces no change.



Lightening your images
Lighten
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. This is the exact reverse of Darken.



Screen
Looks at each channel's color information and multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors. The result color is always a lighter color. Screening with black leaves the color unchanged. Screening with white produces white. The effect is similar to projecting multiple photographic slides on top of each other. This is the inverse/reverse of Multiply.



Color Dodge
Looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the contrast. Blending with black produces no change. This is the inverse/reverse of Color Burn.



Linear Dodge
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. This is the inverse/reverse of Linear Burn.



Adding depth/defining shadows
Overlay
Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the base color. Patterns or colors overlay the existing pixels while preserving the highlights and shadows of the base color. The base color is not replaced but is mixed with the blend color to reflect the lightness or darkness of the original color.



Soft Light
Darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the image. If the colour is a light colour, the image is lightened as though dodged. If it is a dark colour it is darkened as though burned.



Hard Light
Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image. If the colour is a light colour, the image is lightened as though screened. If it is a dark colour it is darkened as if it were multiplied.



Vivid Light
Burns or dodges the colors by increasing or decreasing the contrast, depending on the blend color. If the colour is a light colour, the image is lightened by decreasing the contrast. If the colour is dark, the image is darkened by increasing the contrast.



Linear Light
Burns or dodges the colors by decreasing or increasing the brightness, depending on the blend color. If the colour is light, the image is lightened by increasing the brightness. If the colour is dark, the image is darkened by decreasing the brightness.



Pin Light
Replaces the colors, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, pixels darker than the blend color are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, and pixels darker than the blend color do not change. This is useful for adding special effects to an image.



Inverting Colours
Difference
Looks at the color information in each channel and subtracts either the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the greater brightness value. Blending with white inverts the base color values.



Exclusion
Exclusion is very similar to difference with the exception that it is lower in contrast.



Adding Colour
Hue
Creates a result color with the luminance and saturation of the base color and the hue of the blend color.



Saturation
Creates a result color with the luminance and hue of the base color and the saturation of the blend color.



Color
Creates a result color with the luminance of the base color and the hue and saturation of the blend color. This preserves the gray levels in the image and is useful for coloring monochrome images and for tinting color images.



Luminosity
Creates a result color with the hue and saturation of the base color and the luminance of the blend color. This mode creates an inverse effect from that of the Color mode.



Those are quick examples of each blending mode. The key with all of them is to choose the proper colour (this bright purple is decidedly not, it is used just as an example ;) heh) as well as to fiddle with the settings. Sometimes you want to set the layer to screen but lower the opacity to get the desired effect - it's all about playing with the settings.

I'm now going to talk about a few of the blend modes that I see most often in other tutorials. Basically I want to point out options that get overlooked or just give you a better idea about that mode. First up: Exclusion.

Exclusion
I am sure everyone here has seen at least one tutorial that contains the words "blue exclusion layer" with a dark blue colour selected. If you haven't head on over to icon_tutorial, I can guarantee that there will be at least 2 on the front page alone. ;) Anyway, what I want to touch on is that you don't always have to do a blue layer. Pick a different colour and you can get all sorts of nice colouring effects.



Here I have used a dark blue (far left), a dark green (center) and a dark red (far right). Each nice in their own way in my opinion. So change it up a bit, pick a different colour for that exclusion layer than just a dark blue.

Overlay and Soft Light
Overlay and Soft Light you may find get overused but depending on the picture, you may want to use them just to bring out the shadows and highlights. Here I have duplicated the layer and set the top layer to soft light and overlay.



In this instance, I find the Overlay here to be too dark so if I were to make an icon, I'd use the soft light. However, there are times when the image doesn't need to have one of these layers and again, you may want to have that definition but find it a bit too dark so you could lower the opacity on the soft light or overlay layer to get it where you want it.

Screen
Screen is really good for lightening up an image. It's also very commonly used with light textures because of the neat effects that can come about. You can also of course, use it to add some colour to an icon. Here are some examples of various uses.



With this and every other blending mode, the key is to play with it. You may find a colour that works great on Pin Light but that same colour looks horrid on Multiply. The best thing to do is to fiddle with the settings and when in doubt? Ask a friend for their opinion. ;)

And finally, here is an icon created using only the techniques discussed here (with some text added):



See if you can figure out how I did it. ;) (And it is free for the snagging, no credit required)

This brings us to the end of my photoshop series. This was as far as I had ever planned on going. This won't be my last tutorial by any means, just the last one in this series. With everything we've covered in this and the last 5 tutorials, you should be well on your way to making spectacular graphics! Don't forget to check the other tutorials in this community for more help!
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