How to Work with the Advanced Blending Options in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

If you want to get serious about layers in Photoshop CS6, then you need to know about the Advanced Blending Options, which you can find in the Layer Style dialog box. These options allow you to tailor the way your layer styles and blend modes interact with your layers.

Getting to the advanced options is just like accessing opacity and blend modes: You can double-click a layer thumbnail, choose Layer→Layer Style→Blending Options, or select Blending Options from the Layers panel menu. The massive Layer Style dialog box rears its multi-paneled head.


There are also some advanced options you can blend with. The advanced options aren’t for the faint of heart. To be frank, the options are, well, advanced, so you might find them a tad too eggheady for your taste. But if not, here you go:

  • Fill Opacity: This affects only the pixels or shapes that reside on the layer.

  • Channels: This option allows you to restrict your blending options to specific channels only.

  • Knockout: This option allows you to specify which layers have holes in them so that you can view the layers underneath. You first have to use the Fill Opacity option to set the opacity of the knockout. The lower the opacity, the more the hole shows; therefore, set it to 0% to see all the way through.

    Set the Knockout to Shallow to create a hole through one layer group or a clipping group. Set the Knockout to Deep to create a hole all the way through to the background. If you’re working with just layers, and not layer groups or clipping groups, the knockout cuts through to the background. If there’s no background, it cuts through to transparency.

    [Credit: © iStockphoto/brytta Image #15052580]
    Credit: © iStockphoto/brytta Image #15052580
  • Blend Interior Effects as Group: This option applies the blend mode of the layer to interior layer effects, such as inner glows, satin and color overlay, and so on. Deselect this option to prevent the blend mode from affecting the layer effects.

    [Credit: © iStockphoto/Epic Stock Media Image #138151055 and Tom Hirtreiter Image #1281272]
    Credit: © iStockphoto/Epic Stock Media Image #138151055 and Tom Hirtreiter Image #1281272
  • Blend Clipped Layers as Group: The blend mode of the bottom layer in the clipping group affects all the other layers in the group. Deselect this option to make each layer retain its own blend mode and appearance.

  • Transparency Shapes Layer: Confines layer effects and knockouts to opaque areas of a layer. Deselect this option to apply the mode’s layer effects and knockouts to the entire layer.


  • Layer Mask Hides Effects: Confines layer effects to the area designated by the layer mask.

  • Vector Mask Hides Effects: Confines layer effects to the visible area designated by a vector mask.