How to Work with Layers in Photoshop Elements 11
How to Align and Distribute Layers in Photoshop Elements 11
How to Create Fill Layers in Photoshop Elements 11

Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements 11

Photoshop Elements 11 sports an impressive 25 Blend modes. Blend modes affect how colors interact between layers and how colors interact when you apply paint to a layer. Blend modes can produce a multitude of interesting, sometimes even bizarre, effects. What’s more, you can easily apply, edit, or discard Blend modes without modifying your image pixels one iota.

1

General blend modes — Normal and Dissolve

Normal: The default mode displays each pixel, unadjusted. Note that you can’t see the underlying layer at all with the Normal blend mode.

Dissolve: You can see this mode only on a layer with an opacity setting of less than 100%. The lower the opacity, the more intense the effect. Dissolve allows some pixels from lower layers, which are randomized, to show through the target (selected) layer.

2

Blend modes that darken

Darken: Turns lighter pixels transparent if the pixels on the target layer are lighter than those on layers below. If the pixels are darker, they’re unchanged.

Multiply: Burns the target layer onto the layers underneath, thereby darkening all colors where they mix. When you’re painting with the Brush or Pencil tool, each stroke creates a darker color, as though you’re drawing with markers.

Color Burn: Darkens the layers underneath the target layer and burns them with color, creating an increased contrast effect, like applying a dark dye to an image. Blending with white pixels has no effect.

Linear Burn: Darkens the layers underneath the target layer by decreasing the brightness. This effect is similar to Multiply but often makes portions of an image black. Blending with white has no effect.

Darker Color: When blending two layers, the darker color of the two colors is visible. This mode comes in handy when overlaying elements like scanned sheets of music, handwritten letters, or logos over your images and you want the white portions to appear transparent.

3

Blend modes that lighten

Lighten: Turns darker pixels transparent if the pixels on the target layer are darker than those on layers below. If the pixels are lighter, they’re unchanged. This effect is the opposite of Darken.

Screen: Lightens the target layer where it mixes with the layers underneath. Blending with black has no effect. This effect is the opposite of Multiply.

Color Dodge: Lightens the pixels in the layers underneath the target layer and infuses them with colors from the top layer. Blending with black has no effect. This effect is similar to applying a bleach to an image.

Linear Dodge: Lightens the layers underneath the target layer by increasing the brightness. This effect is similar to Screen but often makes parts of an image pure white. Blending with black pixels has no effect.

Lighter Color: When you're blending two layers, the lighter color of the two colors is visible.

4

Lighting Blend modes

Overlay: Multiplies the dark pixels in the target layer and screens the light pixels in the underlying layers. Enhances the contrast and saturation of colors.

Soft Light: Darkens the dark pixels (greater than 50% gray) and lightens the light pixels (less than 50% gray). Blending with black or white results in darker or lighter pixels but doesn’t make parts of your image pure black or pure white. It's similar to Overlay, but softer and subtler. The effect is like shining a soft spotlight on the image.

Hard Light: This mode multiplies the dark pixels (greater than 50% gray) and screens the light pixels (less than 50% gray). It can be used to add highlights and shadows to an image. Blending with black or white gives you black and white. The effect is similar to shining a bright, hard spotlight on the image.

Vivid Light: If the pixels on the top layer are darker than 50% gray, this mode darkens the colors by increasing the contrast. If the pixels on the top layer are lighter than 50% gray, the mode lightens the colors by decreasing the contrast. It's a combination of Color Burn and Color Dodge.

Linear Light: If the pixels on the top layer are darker than 50% gray, the mode darkens the colors by decreasing the brightness. If the pixels on the top layer are lighter than 50% gray, the mode lightens the colors by increasing the brightness. It's a combination of Linear Burn and Linear Dodge.

Pin Light: Replaces the colors of pixels, depending on the colors in the top layer. If the pixels on the top layer are darker than 50% gray, the mode replaces the pixels that are darker than those on the top layer and doesn’t change pixels that are lighter.

If the pixels on the top layer are lighter than 50% gray, the mode replaces the pixels that are lighter than those pixels on the top layer and doesn’t change pixels that are darker. It's a combination of Darken and Lighten; useful for special effects.

Hard Mix: Similar to Vivid Light but reduces the colors to a total of eight: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, red, green, blue, and white. Although the results depend on the mix of existing colors on the top and bottom layers, this mode usually creates a highly posterized (a cartoon or flat illustration) effect.

5

Blend modes that invert

Difference: Produces a negative, or inverted, effect according to the brightness values on the top layers. If the pixels on the top layer are black, no change occurs in the underlying layers. If the pixels on the top layer are white, the mode inverts the colors of the underlying layers. It can produce some intense effects.

Exclusion: Like Difference, but with less contrast and saturation. If the pixels on the top layer are black, no change occurs in the underlying layers. If the pixels on the top layer are white, this mode inverts the colors of the underlying layers. Medium colors blend to create shades of gray.

6

HSL color model Blend modes

Hue: Blends the luminance (brightness) and saturation (intensity of the color) of the underlying layers with the hue (color) of the top layer.

Saturation: Blends the luminance and hue of the underlying layers with the saturation of the top layer.

Color: Blends the luminance of the underlying layers with the saturation and hue of the top layer. This mode enables you to paint color while preserving the shadows, highlights, and details of the underlying layers.

Luminosity: The opposite of Color, this mode blends the hue and saturation of the underlying layers with the luminance of the top layer. This mode also preserves the shadows, highlights, and details from the top layer and mixes them with the colors of the underlying layers.

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