How to Use the Blend If Options in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Use the Blend If Options in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

By using the slider bars in Adobe Photoshop CS6, you can use the Blend If options and specify which colors are visible in the active layer and which colors show through from the underlying layers.

You can select a specific channel from the Blend If pop-up menu to apply the option to a single channel. The default channel, Gray, affects all channels in the image. The two sliders at the bottom of the Layer Style dialog box do the following:

  • This Layer: Allows you to set a blending range. In other words, you can hide certain colors according to the brightness values in the active layer. By dragging the black triangle to the right, you exclude darker colors. By dragging the white triangle to the left, you exclude lighter colors.

  • Underlying Layer: Forces the colors from the underlying layers to show through the active layer. Again, dragging the black and white triangles excludes ranges of colors.

Excluding and forcing colors can result in some harsh color transitions. You can provide for a smoother transition between blended and unblended areas by splitting the slider into two parts, allowing the pixels to gradually fade to transparency. Alt-drag (Option-drag on the Mac) on either the black or white triangle in either slider bar to split the triangle into two halves.

The left and right triangles mark the beginning and end of the blending range, where pixels fade into or out of view.

In Version CS6, a double square icon will appear on the layer, just to the left of the fx icon, indicating that the layer has advanced blending options applied.

One of the most important tweaks you can make is to opacity. Follow these steps to adjust the opacity settings on some of the layers:

  1. Open your saved collage file.

    If the Layers panel isn’t already visible, open it.

  2. Select a layer in your collage and move the opacity slider to the left or right.

    If you want the layer to be more opaque, move the slider to the right. If you’re interested in making the layer more transparent, move the slider to the left.

    This image uses Layer 4 and the opacity has been adjusted to 90%. The blue sky in the collage is a tad too vibrant in comparison to the rest of the image. Adjusting the opacity tones it down and allows the blue to blend in more naturally.

    [Credit: © mura #4475506, Image #3200044, Image #6672627, 101 Cats Image#
    Credit: © mura #4475506, Image #3200044, Image #6672627, 101 Cats Image#15160833 and Kertlis Image #656377
  3. Save the file and move on to the next layer you want to adjust.

  4. If desired, select a layer and experiment with applying a blend mode from the Mode pop-up menu in the Layers panel.

    If you don’t like the way it looks, you can set it back to Normal. No harm done. In this image, a Darken blend mode was applied to the sky layer which helped that layer blend in better with the edges of the trees.

  5. When you’re satisfied with the opacity and blending, save the collage file.