When it comes to layer panel, one of the most important thing is the blend mode. With the might power of it, you can totally change the scenario of an image. Be it the color, style, luminosity, or dimness, you can alter it with just one click.

This tutorial, What are Blend Modes in Photoshop, is dedicated to show you the power of blend modes in Photoshop.

The good part of blend mode is its vastness, and the sadly the bad part of it is also its vastness. With its vastness, you need a good amount of time to master it. In our busy world, it’s difficult for every one of us to dedicate a good amount of time to learn something, but time invested in something good will always get you nice result. The same goes here. Blend modes are like leg-fingers of Photoshop; not so useful because we can live without that, but extremely important as they provide balance to our body.

So what is Blend Mode?

Blend mode is basically the behavior of pixels that is based on the behavior of the pixels presents in the below layer. Too much technical? You’ll understand it when I start to explain in blend mode one by one. Till then, ignore the above definition. But make sure you read it again as soon as you’re done with this chapter.

There are 26 blend modes. That’s too much, I know! Because of its vastness, it’s not possible to learn every single blend mode in one chapter, this is why I choose to divide it into two chapters. In this chapter, we’ll deal with first 10 blend modes, and in next chapter we’ll deal with next 16 blend modes. The good part is that out of 26, you’re never going to use some of them.

You must be wondering now “where the hell blend mode is located in layer panel?”, “I don’t see anything as blend mode”, the thing is that it’s kind of hidden, and it’s kind of not. For a first time user, it will be a little difficult to find the blend mode as Adobe did not give any title like Blend Mode. In fig. 6.1, you can see the location of Blend Mode. In that drop-down list, you’ll find all 26 blend modes listed there.

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Fig. 6.1

Today we’ll learn from Normal to Lighter Color. That sums up first ten. Tomorrow we’ll learn from Overlay to Luminosity, and that sums up last sixhteen. So let’s begin one by one.

1: Normal

This is the most basic blend mode. In this mode, anything drawn on the current layer does not give any effect to the below layer. It basically edits or paints each pixel to make it the result color. This is the default mode.

In Fig. 6.2, I painted the baby’s cloth with white color. The result is white color, and there’s nothing special. There’s no special effect, no additional activity, nothing at all. That’s why it is called as default mode.

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Fig. 6.2

2: Dissolve

This mode only works when there’s transparency in pixels. To show it, let’s use Brush Tool and reduce its hardness to 0%. Now the edges of the brush will not be razor sharp, rather it’ll be soft. In Fig. 6.3, I have painted the cloth with brush with its hardness 0%. Right now the blend mode is Normal.

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Fig. 6.3

Now if I change the blend mode to Dissolve, just see the change. Now the edges are random distribution of dots of same color. To sum up, Dissolve blend mode edits each pixel to make the result color. However, the resultant color is a random replacement of the pixels that depends on the opacity at any pixel location.

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Fig. 6.4

3: Darken

Now the fun begins. Above two modes were boring, and you probably will never use Dissolve.

Darken blend mode compares the each pixel of the current layer and the layer below it, and shows the pixels that is darker. Just refer to Fig. 6.5. In that image, I have painted the sheet with dark orange color. Areas where the orange color is darker than the sheet’s white color, will display orange color. And the area where the sheet’s dark gray color is darker than the orange color, will show the dark gray color.

In Adobe’s language on adobe.com: Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the base or blend color—whichever is darker—as the result color.

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Fig. 6.5

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