Learn three must know blend modes for Photoshop and in particular for editing photos in Photoshop. Covers how to use Screen, Multiply and Overlay blend modes.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’ll introduce you to the three must know blend modes in Photoshop. I’ll explain how they work and how you might put them to use.

There are three blend modes that it’s really handy to know how to use in Photoshop, and we’re going to look at those three blend modes in this video tutorial.

In this particular image I have a picture of a building in Darwin and over the top of it I have a second layer. And on the right hand side is the exact duplicate of the layer below. And on the left hand side is just the color pink because we’re going to have a look and see how these blend modes work not only with images where you’ve got two layers that are identical but also what happens when you have for example a layer that is different. And the three blend modes that are really handy to use are got to by clicking this blend mode dropdown list in the layers panel in Photoshop.

If you can’t see your layers panel choose Window and then Layers and that will show you your layers panel. When you’re using blend modes you’ll always use the blend mode on the topmost layer or the layer that you want to affect. And it will affect how this particular layer blends in with the layer or layers below.

The first blend mode we’re going to look at it is this one here. It’s Screen. Now you’ll see that the blend modes here are grouped together. The blend modes in this particular group are the lightening blend modes. They are lighten, screen color, dodge, linear dodge and lighter color. And we’re going to look at screen in this particular group. And screen always lightens an image. So you can see here that the image is lighter than it was in the original. Here it’s colored this sort of pink tone. And here we’ve just got the original image over again, but it’s a lighter version. This is a blend mode that you can use to salvage an underexposed image. If you’ve got an image that doesn’t have enough light in it, you could use the image on each of the layers and then blend the top one into the bottom using the screen blend mode. And that will lighten the image and bring detail out of it.

The next blend mode we’re going to look at is similar but works in the opposite way. This is a darkening blend mode. And it’s accessible from this darken group of blend modes: darken, multiply color burn, linear burn and darker color. And in this case the one we’re going to use is multiply. And multiply darkens the image. You can see that we’ve got a darker version of the image with this sort of pink overlay. But here where we had the image on the two layers, the exact same image on each of the two layers, you can see that we’ve got a darkening of the image. This would be useful if we had an overexposed image. If we put the overexposed image on two layers and then blend them together with the multiply blend mode, we’ll bring back some of the detail in the overexposed image.

The other of the blend modes that you’ll typically use in Photoshop is overlay. It’s in this group of blend modes, and it’s one of the contrasty blend modes. What this does is it lightens everything that is lighter than a mid-gray and it darkens everything that is darker than mid gray. So it’s a nice contrasty blend mode. Let’s have a look here at what it’s doing to the image on the right. You can see that this is a flatter sort of image. And when I turn on this layer we’re getting a lot more contrasty image. And that’s what’s happening on the left too is we’re getting a contrasty, a colored version, of the original image. Anytime you want to boost the contrast in an image you can use the overlay blend mode.

So the three blend modes that I suggest that you look at using with your photos in particular are multiply to darken, screen to lighten, and overlay to add some contrast and punch. Now if you find that a certain blend mode is too much let’s just get rid of this particular layer and let’s duplicate the image itself. And let’s go and use the overlay blend mode. And if this is too much of a contrast enhancement to the image all you need do is to back off the opacity of this layer. This will give you some of the layer below and some of this additionally contrasty layer so that your image gets more contrast but perhaps not as much as it would have if you’d had this layer at 100 percent opacity.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my tutorials on this YouTube channel. Comment on the video and like it if you like it. And look out for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and a whole lot more at my website projectwoman.com.

Helen Bradley