So, what’s interesting about blend modes? Well, one of my favorite features is that they’re non-destructive. You can cycle through them and change blending on any existing layer without changing the file size. In my book, I explain why this is, and how to exploit it. I’ve also given you some pointers about the limitations and how to get around them.
The Stuff You're Looking For!
Here are the wonderful people who contributed their favorite blend mode tips. Each has a unique perspective on art and photography, and this list represents a very diverse set of talents. I’m very proud to have gotten participation from some of the best people in the Photoshop world.
- Carrie Beene
- Steve Caplin
- RC Concepcion
- Katrin Eismann
- Chris Georgenes
- Kat Gilbert
- Mark Heaps
- Calvin Hollywood
- Matt Kloskowski
- Julieanne Kost
- Patrick LaMontagne
- John Shannon
- Chris Tarantino (currently being updated)
- Jim Tierney
- Additional Resources – creating shortcuts, actions, etc.
- Dr Brown’s Texture Script – Use this script to apply a variety of textures from a folder, and run through various blend modes to see what fits best. This is something many of us do manually, but thanks to Russell Brown, the process is quick and easy.
- Chuck Uebele’s Scripted Fill UI – CS6 has this really cool feature to fill selections using patterns, but it doesn’t have a user interface. Chuck Uebele has addressed this problem with a very popular solution. Grab it, now!
- Sean Duggan: Blending Modes for Composites – A discussion from Sean’s book with Katrin Eismann on using blending modes to simplify and enhance digital composite images.
Special Articles and Tutorials
These PSD files were built in Photoshop CS6. Simply download and unzip. These are the files I used for the index of my book, with minor modifications. Please share them with full attribution, but do not modify them. You may, of course, build your own using mine as reference.
- BlendModeReferences-RGB.psd – Triangles (RGB & CMYK) This one has discreet, individual colors.
- BlendModeReferences-Squares.psd – Square (RGB & CMYK) This one has continuous gradients.
- BlendModeReferences-GradBars.psd – Solid Bars & Gradients (RGB) Move the bars around and change the layer order.
Errata & Corrections
Hey – we all make mistakes. Here are mine in a nicely ordered list. If you find others, please use the form below to inform me!
- The appendix incorrectly lists shortcuts for direct access to blend modes as Cmd (PC:Ctrl) + Shift + X where X is a letter designation for each blend mode. The correct shortcut is Opt (PC:Alt) + Shift + X.
- Mark Heaps’ recipe – missing step (pending resolution)
- Calvin Hollywood’s recipe (page 99) says to use Smart Blur, but the correct tool is the Surface Blur, as shown in the screenshot.