General Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements - dummies

General Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Elements sports a whopping 25 blend modes. Blend modes affect how colors interact between layers and also how colors interact when you apply paint to a layer. Not only do blend modes create interesting effects, but you can also easily apply, edit, or remove blend modes without touching your image pixels.

The various blend modes are located on a drop-down list at the top of your Layers panel in Expert mode. The best way to get a feel for the effect of blend modes is not to memorize the descriptions. Instead, grab an image with some layers and apply each of the blend modes to one or more of the layers to see what happens.

The exact result varies, depending on the colors in your image layers.

The Normal blend mode needs no introduction. It’s the one you probably use the most. Dissolve is the next one on the list and, ironically, is probably the one you use the least.

The figure shows both blend modes:

  • Normal: The default mode displays each pixel unadjusted. You can’t see the underlying layer at all with the Normal blend mode.

  • Dissolve: This mode can be seen only on a layer with an opacity setting of less than 100 percent. It allows some pixels from lower layers, which are randomized, to show through the target (selected) layer.

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