Most users are familiar with the general layer blending options such as Opacity and modes like Multiply
and Overlay. However, deeper in Photoshop are advanced blending options that make those general
effects look like a box of cheap crayons. Try these tips to simulate double-exposure photography.
||Finding the Options
If nothing else, the Layer Style Blending
Options dialog box is extremely accessible.
After selecting the layer you want
to blend, you can do any of the following:
- Double-click the layer.
- Choose Layer > Layer Style > Blending
- Choose Blending Options from the Layers
- Control/Right-click a layer, and choose
- Click the Add a layer style icon at the
bottom of the Layers palette, and
choose Blending Options.
Surfing the Color Channels
Try using channels to blend two layers.
Double-click your top layer to open the
Layer Style Blending Options dialog box.
Deselect a Channel and you will take
away the visibility of that color channel
in the layer. You also simultaneously
blend the same color channel from the
underlying layer with the top layerís
remaining visible channels. In other
words, whatever color you deselect (and
take away) from your top layer becomes
the color from the underlying layer that
is blended with your top layer. Itís confusing,
but itís also fun to experiment with!
In the example, the Yellow channel of the
man layer was deselected, so the yellow
pixels of the man layer became invisible.
In turn, the yellow pixels of the lights
layer affected the remaining visible
channels of the man.
Normally you set blending options
for a selected layer to affect all layers
beneath it. One of the unique aspects
of Knockout is the Deep option. For
example, if you set the blending mode
of any layer to Overlay with Knockout
set to Deep, you will only apply Overlay to the Background layer. (It must be
a Background layer for it to work. To
convert a layer to a Background, choose
Layer > New > Layer From Background.)
In the example, the Yellow channel for
the man layer is still deselected from the
previous tip, but now the layerís Blend
Mode is set to Pin Light. With Knockout
set to None, you would see the Pin Light
mode applied to the lights layer below
it. But after setting the Knockout to
Deep, the Pin Light mode ignored the
lights layer and was only applied to the
If you apply Overlay to a layer, itís applied
equally to all pixels. However, you can
blend a range of colors based on brightness
values, either on the selected layer
or the underlying layer. With the Blend
If option set to Gray, use the sliders to
set the black and/or white points for the
brightness range to be blended. The
upshot is that pixels in the range above
or below these values will be transparent
and only pixels within the range
are blended, which can create a grunge
look. If you want to get detailed, specify
colors to really fine-tune the blending.
change the Blend If option to one of the
color channels&mdash:itís best to start with the
predominant coloróthen move sliders
to blend only for that color.
||Smoothing the Blend
An image can look pixelated when the
transition between two colors in a blend
is too abrupt. If you get pixelation after
blending conditionally, soften edges by
creating a spread over which black and
white points are applied. To split the
range, Option/Alt-click a slider and drag
one half to the left or right. This creates
a more gradual blendóthe wider the
spread, the softer the transition.
||Changing Your Mind
In the Blending Options dialog box (as
with most dialog boxes in Photoshop),
you can press Option/Alt at any time to
transform the Cancel button to Reset,
which will return settings to the state
when the dialog box was last opened.
Saving the Blend
Once youíve set all your layerís blending
options, save your blend as a style preset
to apply to other layers or images. Click
the New Style button in the Layer Style
dialog box. Give the new style a name,
make sure that Include Layer Blending
Options is checked, and click OK. The
new style will be in the Styles palette.
Don't miss the next Photoshop tip on Graphics.com. Get the free Graphics.com newsletter in your mailbox each week. Click here to subscribe.
Jason Cranford Teague has written
numerous computer design books,
CS at Your Fingertips and Final Cut Pro and the Art