Photoshop is full of secrets. The more you explore Photoshop, the more you would reveal. Blend Mode is one of them.

This tutorial is Part III of What is Blend Mode in Photoshop – Part I – Normal and Dissolve.

In this tutorial, I am going to deal with four Blend Modes that are basically used to lighten an image or some portion of an image. So let’s start one by one.

Lighten Blend Mode

This Blend Mode lightens the image based on a certain Mathematical calculation.

1_thumb - What is Blend Mode is Photoshop - Part III - Screen, Lighten, Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge


In the above image, my Layer 1 is in lighten mode. Whenever lighten Blend Mode is used, Photoshop calculates the lighter color by comparing the base color with the blend color. For example, in the above image, Photoshop compares the each pixels between the base layer (Background) and blend color (Layer 1). After comparing each pixels and determining the lighter one, Photoshop fills that spot with the lighter one.

Any colors on the top layer that are lighter than the colors on the layer below get to stay, and any darker colors on the bottom layer disappear.

Darken Blend Mode doesn’t work when you duplicate a layer and then change the Blend Mode to lighten. This is because each pixels of base layer and the blend layer would be exactly same. So there would be no darker or brighter pixel.


A nice way to use lighten Blend Mode is to duplicate the layer and then apply Gaussian Blur with 5-10 pixels (as did with the above image) and then use the lighten Blend mode.

Lighten Blend Mode also works good with Clone Stamp Tool. Just set the Blend Mode of Clone Stamp Tool to Lighten, and then the Clone Stamp Tool will only clone the lightker color.



Screen Blend Mode

As the name says, Multiply Blend Mode performs multiplication and the result is always a brighten pixel.

2_thumb - What is Blend Mode is Photoshop - Part III - Screen, Lighten, Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge


Screen Blend Mode multiplies (increase) the pixels in Blend color with the base color and hence, the result is always a dark color.

Formula: Result = (Base Color x Blend Color)/255

The above formula clearly shows that the result color will always be a lighter color.

You can compare the situation with using a whitener. When you write something and then again write on it, the stroke gets lighter. The more coat of whitener you use, lighter the stroke gets. Same principle works here.

With the help of above formula, we can easily conclude that there would be no effect if the blend color is Black. This is why there is Screen mode never works on Black color. We can also say that, whenever the blend color is White, the result would be White.


This mode is highly useful whenever your image is underexposed. Just duplicate the layer and then change the Blend Mode to Screen. Then decrease the Opacity as per your requirement.

This mode is also helpful in non-destructive Dodging and Burning. Create a new layer and then change the Blend Mode to Screen. Decrease the opacity to 10-30% and use Brush Tool to dodge the image.



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