Darken and Lighten Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements - dummies

Darken and Lighten Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

In Photoshop Elements, you have two sets of blend modes that enable you to either darken or lighten your images. These blend modes produce effects that darken your image in various ways:

  • Darken: Turns lighter pixels transparent if the pixels on the target layer are lighter than those 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 a contrast effect, like applying a dark dye to your image.

  • Linear Burn: Darkens the layers underneath the target layer by decreasing the brightness. This effect is similar to Multiply but often makes parts of your image black.

  • Darker Color: When blending two layers, the darker color of the two colors is visible.

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/OlsenMatt, Elpiniki]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/OlsenMatt, Elpiniki

The lighten blend modes are the opposite of the darken blend modes. All these blend modes create lightening effects on your image:

  • Lighten: Turns darker pixels transparent if the pixels on the target layer are darker than those 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. 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. This effect is similar to applying bleach to your 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 your image white.

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

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/OlsenMatt, Elpiniki]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/OlsenMatt, Elpiniki