Posts tagged "Layer Groups"

November 11, 2010

The Fourth Group of Blend Modes

The fourth group of Blend modes have a neutral color of 50% gray. This means that 50% gray as a blend color will have no effect on the result color.  All of the light modes (except for Hard Mix) lighten when using colors brighter than 50% gray and darken when using colors darker than 50% gray. This happens on a channel-by-channel basis so they can actually both lighten and darken at once.

• Overlay – Multiplies or screens a scaled version of the blend color into the base color based on whether the lower color is darker or lighter than 50% gray. Colors darker than 50% are multiplied, colors lighter are screened. 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 mode – Darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color.  If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened as if it were dodged. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened as if it were burned in. Painting with pure black or white produces a distinctly darker or lighter area but does not result in pure black or white. It uses gamma adjustment s to darken or lighten. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the image.

• Hard Light – Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened, as if it were screened. This is useful for adding highlights to an image. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened, as if it were multiplied. This is useful for adding shadows to an image. Painting with pure black or white results in pure black or white. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image.

• Vivid Light – Burns or dodges the colors by increasing or decreasing the contrast, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened by decreasing the contrast. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened by increasing the contrast. Vivid Light uses color burn and color dodge to darken or lighten.

• Linear Light – Burns or dodges the colors by decreasing or increasing the brightness, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened by increasing the brightness. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened by decreasing the brightness. Linear Light uses linear burn and linear dodge to darken or lighten.

• 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. Pin Light uses darken or lighten modes to darken or lighten. This is useful for adding special effects to an image.

• Hard Mix – Lighter colors lighten the result. Darker colors darken the result.  Lowering the fill opacity creates less posterization/thresholding.

The first illustration

The first image illustrates the leaf layer with it's blend mode set to Overlay. The second illustration shows the result of Soft Light, then Hard Light and Vivid Light.

The first illustration

The first image illustrates the leaf layer with it's blend mode set to Linear Light, then Pin Light and finally Hard Mix

One common use of the Soft Light blend mode is to dodge and burn. Instead of using the dodge and burn tools, you can achieve more natural and flexible effects by adding a new (blank) layer on top of the image that you want to dodge or burn. Set the blend mode for the layer to Soft Light. Then, paint with a brush with white in the areas that you want to dodge, or black in the areas that you want to burn. I would try setting the opacity of the paint brush to 5-10% and painting multiple strokes to slowly build up the dodge or burn, this will help to achieve more subtle effects. This is also a good way to remove harsh shadows from portraits as can be seen in the illustration above. A common use of the Overlay blend mode is to add a texture over an image. In the illustration below a scan of fiber-textured paper was placed on a layer above the landscape and set to Overlay. For a less dramatic effect, try setting the blend mode of the texture to Soft Light.

5:15 AM Permalink
November 10, 2010

The Third Group of Blend Modes

The third group of Blend modes have a neutral color of black. This means that black as a blend color will have no effect on the result color. These blend modes all have stronger effects as the blend color becomes lighter. Using the Fill slider on Layers palette and using blend modes from this group may modulate this effect rather than performing a simple opacity blend the way normal mode does. The lightening modes are essentially the inverses of the darkening modes.

• Lighten – Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the lighter of the base or blend color as the result color. Pixels darker than the blend color are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change.

• 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. The effect is similar to projecting multiple photographic slides onto the same screen. Screen reduces contrast and can produce and effect similar to painting an area with bleach.

• Color Dodge – Looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the contrast. Color Dodge is an exception to the neutral color rule in this group – it is the only lightening mode that preserves blacks. Color Dodge is similar to moving the input white triangle in Levels. As such, color dodge increases contrast but may clip the brighter portions of the lower colors to white.

• Linear Dodge – Looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the brightness.  Linear dodge is the combination of color dodge and screen. As such, it has a stronger lightening effect than either of them. Linear Dodge will clip bright values, unlike Screen.

• Lighter Color Compares the total of all channel values for the blend and base color and displays the higher value color. Lighter Color does not produce a third color, which can result from the Lighten blend, because it chooses the highest channel values from both the base and blend color to create the result color.

The first

The first image illustrates the leaf layer with it's blend mode set to Lighten. The second illustration shows the result of Screen, then Color Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add) and finally, Lighter Color.

One common use of the Screen Blend mode is to build up or reduce density in an image. To lighten a very dense image like the boy on the left, add a levels or curves adjustment layer, but don’t make any changes in the Adjustment panel. There won’t be any visible change at first, but changing the blend mode of the adjustment layer (in the Layers panel) to Screen will lighten the density of the image. You can also try soft light for a more subtle effect (but again, I'm getting ahead of myself). If you need to lighten the image even more, you can duplicate the adjustment layer. If the image lightens too much, decrease the opacity of the adjustment layer or paint in the adjustment layer's mask to selectively hide the adjustment. If you’re image is too light (like the girl on the right, you can follow the same steps found above to add an adjustment layer, but set it's blend mode to Multiply to increase the density.

5:55 AM Permalink
November 9, 2010

The Second Group of Blend Modes

The second group of Blend modes (Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn and Darker Color) have a Neutral color of white. This means that white as a blend color will have no effect on the result color (white simply disappears). These blend modes all have stronger effects as the blend color becomes darker. Using the Fill slider on Layers palette using blend modes from this group may modulate this effect rather than performing a simple opacity blend the way normal mode does. By definition:

• Darken – Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the darker of the base or blend color as the result color. Pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, and pixels darker than the blend color do not change.

• Multiply – 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.  When you’re painting with a color other than black or white, successive strokes with a painting tool produce progressively darker colors, producing an effect similar to drawing on the image with multiple magic markers. Multiply is a bit like sandwiching two chromes and projecting them together.

• Color Burn – Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast. The result will always be darker and have more contrast.

• Linear Burn – Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the brightness and – unlike multiply – it will clip values while doing so. It has a stronger darkening effect than either multiply or color burn. Linear Burn is a combination of color burn and multiply.

• Darker Color – Compares the total of all channel values for the blend and base color and displays the lower value color. Darker Color does not produce a third color, which can result from the Darken blend, because it chooses the lowest channel values from both the base and the blend color to create the result color.

The first image illustrates the leaf layer set to

The first image illustrates the leaf layer with it's blend mode set to Darken. The second illustration shows the result of Multiply, then Color Burn, Linear Burn and finally, Darker Color.

One common use of the Multiply blend mode is to add edge effects. Start with edges from one of many sources such as scanned torn or deckle edged paper, painted edges (painted either traditionally or in Photoshop) or purchase edges from one of many sources such as Graphic Authority and onOne Software. Position the edge at the top of the layer stack. In the first illustration (where the edges are black and the center of the image white), setting the blend mode to Multiply will keep the black edge and hide the white center (the results are shown in illustration #2). If you have white edges and a black center like the third illustration, change the blend mode to Screen to keep the white and hide the black (shown in illustration #4 - but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves...). Note: if your edges are the opposite of what you desire choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the edge layer, then apply the necessary blend mode.

One common use of the Multiply blend mode is to add edge effects. Start with edges from one of many sources such as scanned torn or deckle edged paper, painted edges (painted either traditionally or in Photoshop) or purchase edges from one of many sources such as Graphic Authority and onOne Software. Position the edge at the top of the layer stack. In the first illustration (where the edges are black and the center of the image white), setting the blend mode to Multiply will keep the black edge and hide the white center (the results are shown in illustration #2). If you have white edges and a black center like the third illustration, change the blend mode to Screen to keep the white and hide the black (shown in illustration #4 - but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves...). Note: if your edges are the opposite of what you desire choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the edge layer, then apply the necessary blend mode.

6:15 AM Permalink
November 8, 2010

Controlling Pixel Interaction Through Blend Modes

In previous posts, I have covered the shortcuts to change blend modes, and as a result, I have had several people request more detailed information about each blending mode so lets get started.

First some basic information – a blend mode allows you to control how the pixels on one layer work with or affect (or blend with) other pixels in Photoshop. They can be found throughout the program in such areas as the Layers panel, Layer Styles,  the Fill, Stroke and Fade commands, the Painting tools, and Apply Image and Calculations commands. Within each of these different areas of the program, the blend modes which are available vary based on which modes are useful and appropriate for each command. Except where noted, these modes work on a per channel basis — i.e., they treat an RGB image like three grayscale images.

When using blend modes, it’s helpful to think of the effects in terms of the following three colors:

• The base color is the original color in the image (which can be the color on a layer or a cumulative combination of layers).

• The blend color is the color being blended (the painting or editing color).

• The result color is the color resulting from the blend.

Note – some of the blend modes have what are called Neutral colors, or colors that have no effect when they are blended. For example, Multiply has a Neutral color of black, and Screen’s neutral color is white – but I’m getting ahead of myself…

The first grouping of blend modes contain from one to four blend modes depending on the feature: Normal, Dissolve, Behind and Clear. Note: the Fill command and the painting tools are the only ones that list the Behind and Clear blend modes. In this grouping, there is no Neutral color – all blend colors will effect the base colors. When used at 100% opacity, the blend color will replace the base color. I point out that I’m using 100% because lowering the opacity of the layer (or paint or fill etc.) will change the way that the blend color is combined with the layer below.  By definition:

• Normal – This is the default mode. Pixels don’t blend. Results are as expected – you choose red to paint with, and you get red. You put a photo on a layer and it is displayed as the original photo obscuring any layers beneath it. As expected. (Under the hood, this mode edits or paints each pixel to make it the result color. Note: Normal mode becomes Threshold when you’re working with a bitmapped or indexed-color image.)

• Dissolve  – Edits or paints each pixel to make it the result color; however, 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. Lowering the opacity (in this case the opacity of the Layers palette) reveals a speckled effect which is either the blend color or the base color – never a combination of the two. I’ve seen this blend mode used effectively when creating a stippled effect with the paintbrush and a large brush (see illustrations below).

• Behind – Edits or paints only in the transparent areas of a layer. This mode is available for the painting tools and the Fill command.  It’s like painting on the back side of acetate, underneath the image. Note: this mode works only in layers with Lock Transparency deselected (that little checkerboard icon to the right of the word Lock on the Layers panel).

• Clear – Makes all affected pixels transparent – essentially the same result as using the Eraser tool. This mode is available for the painting tools, the Fill command, and the Stroke command. Note: you must be in a layer with Lock Transparency deselected to use this mode.

The first image is the original photo of the mountains. The second is the image of leaves on a transparent background. The next image  shows the result of the leaves stacked on it's own layer, on top of the mountains with the blend mode for the leaves layer set to Normal. The last image also has the leaves set to the Normal blend mode, but the opacity of the layer has been reduced to 50%.

The first image is the original photo of the mountains. The second is photo of leaves with the background deleted. The third image shows the result of the leaves stacked on their own layer, on top of the mountains with the blend mode for the leaves layer set to Normal (in the Layers panel). The last image also has the leave's blend mode set to Normal, but the opacity of the layer has been reduced to 50%.

In the first image, teh blend mode for the leaves layer is set to Dissolve. The second illustration is a painting of the leaves layer created by using the Clone Stamp tool with it's blend mode set to Dissolve, sampling from all layers, and painting on an empty layer. The third Photo illustrated painting with the Paint Brush tool set to Behind and the Fourth is also with the paint tool set to Clear.

In the first image, the blend mode for the leaves layer is set to Dissolve. The second illustration is a painting of the leaves layer created by using the Clone Stamp tool with it's blend mode set to Dissolve (sampling from all layers, and painting on an empty layer). The third image shows painting with the Paint Brush tool (on the leaf layer) with the paint brush's blend mode set to Behind (basically Behind only allows paint to be added in the transparent areas). Note: most of the time I think it would just be easier to paint on a separate layer but I'm sure that people have reasons to do it this way! The fourth image also shows the paint brush painting (on the leaf layer), but with the paint brush's blend mode set to Clear (basically it acts as an eraser!).

3:50 AM Permalink
May 31, 2010

Nesting Layer Groups

PSCS5 – The previous limit of 5 nested Layer Groups has been increased to 10. For example, you can now have a group within a group, within a group within a group and so on – nested 10 groups deep. That should help organize even the most complex documents!

6:53 AM Permalink
November 6, 2009

Pass Through

Layer Groups have their own blend mode called Pass Through which allows blending and transparency options to “pass through” the group and effect any layers below the group. To isolate the blending of layers within a group, change the Group’s blend mode to Normal.

5:17 AM Permalink
July 6, 2009

Blending Layer Groups

Layer Groups are, by default, set to display blending effects (such as opacity, blend modes etc.) just like any other layer in Photoshop. For example, if a layer in a Group has it’s blend mode is set to “Multiply”, it will be multiplied (blended) with all other layers below it. In this default state, clicking on the Group in the Layers panel displays “Pass Through” as the Group’s blend mode (i.e: any blending applied to layers within the group is “passing through” the group to be applied to the layers below it).

To change this default behavior to limit the blending between layers to only those layers within the Groups, target the Group in the Layers panel and set the Groups blend mode to “Normal” . For even more advanced blending of channels within Groups, choose Layer >Group Properties (or Control (Mac)/ right mouse (Win) -click the Group icon in the Layers panel and select Group Properties) to specify which channels to use for special effect blending of layers.

6:32 AM Permalink
July 3, 2009

Masking Multiple Layers

Not only are Layer Groups great for organizing your layers, you can also use them to mask the contents of multiple layers at a time. With the Group targeted in the Layers panel, click the Add Pixel (or Vector) Mask icon from the Masks panel. This mask will control the visibility of all layers within the Group.

6:04 AM Permalink
July 2, 2009

Copying Merged Layers (and Groups)

Copying Merged Layers (and Groups)
Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + Shift + C (with a selection) copies a merged view of all visible layers onto the clipboard.
Option-Command (Mac) / Alt-Control (Win) + Shift +E, pastes a merged copy of all visible layers on a (single) new layer above the topmost currently selected layer.

7:43 AM Permalink
July 1, 2009

Displaying Layer Group Contents

Command (Mac) / Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a layer Group to expand or collapse all layer Groups in the document.

Option (Mac) / Alt (Win) -click the disclosure triangle to expand collapse all groups nested within the current group.

Option-Command (Mac) / Alt-Control (Win) -cick the disclosure triangle to expand and collapse all groups (nested or not).

Or, if you prefer, Control (Mac)/ right mouse (Win) -click the Group’s disclosure triangle and choose “Close/Open this Group” or “Close/Open all Other Groups”.

5:19 AM Permalink
June 30, 2009

Selecting Layer Groups

To automatically select Layer Groups (as oppose to selecting individual layers), with the Move tool selected, check the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.

6:27 AM Permalink
June 29, 2009

Deleting Layer Groups

To delete a Group, select Layer > Delete > Group or, with the Group selected on the Layers panel, click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with the options to delete the “Group and Contents” (which deletes both), “Group Only” (which removes any groups but leaves the layers), or “Cancel”.

To delete the Group and all of it’s contents while bypassing the dialog select the Group on the Layers panel and either drag the Group to the trash can icon or, Option (Mac) / Alt (Win) -click the trash can icon.

Command (Mac) / Control (Win) -drag a Group to the trash can icon to delete a Group without deleting it’s contents.

7:55 AM Permalink
June 26, 2009

Duplicating Layer Groups

With a Group targeted in the layers panel, Select Layer > Duplicate Group or Option (Mac) / Alt (Win) -drag the Group in the Layers panel (until you see a heavy black line between the layers) and release.

Note this shortcut will not work if the Group is at the top of the Layers panel – in this case, I use the context sensitive menu (Control -click (Mac) or right mouse click) on the Group and select Duplicate Group.

5:47 AM Permalink
June 25, 2009

Adding Layer Groups

Layer Groups are an excellent way to organize a complex multi layered document. To create an empty Layer Group, click the Create Layer Group (the folder) icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. The Group will be added above the currently targeted layer. If no layers are targeted, Photoshop adds the group to the top of the layer stack.

To create a new Layer Group while simultaneously placing targeted layers into that group Group select Layer > Group Layers or drag the targeted layers (in the Layers panel) to the New Group icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, or use the keyboard shortcut Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + G. The group will be added above the topmost currently targeted layer.

To ungroup layers select Layer > Ungroup Layers or use the keyboard shortcut Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + Shift + G.

6:17 AM Permalink