Blending Modes & Opacity Part 1

When you blend layers you are adjusting the way pixels on the different layers combine with each other and this will give us some cool, and remarkable, results. Blending modes are a fabulous way to create multiple-image artwork.

I start out a Photoshop file that has two layers. One layer is an image of an old building with a yellow wall and the other layer has a staircase on the outside of an apartment block. When you're trying this out yourself, just use any Photoshop image with two different layers, with something on each layer.

Please note that it's easier to work with layers if you give each layer a descriptive name. Don't just leave each layer with its default of Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 3, etc.
When you're dealing with an image with 20 layers this will become very tiresome when you're trying to figure out what's on each layer.

Step 1 – Rename your Layer
Double-click the layer name in the Layers palette. A bounding box will appear around the words Layer 1. Type a new name and Press Return or Enter.

Note: You want to make sure you click directly on the layer name, otherwise you will open the Layer Style dialog box and you won't be able to rename the layer.

Step 2 – Select your Layer
Click on the eye icon on the newly-named Stairs layers. The image of stairs appears in the screen and the Yellow Wall is hidden.

Step 3 – Change Opacity
With the Stairs layer selected in the Layers palette, click on the arrow beside the opacity field and drag the slider to 40%. Notice that everything on this layer – the stairs and the wall they are attached to becomes less opaque (more see-through).

Step 4
Lowering the opacity of a layer makes the artwork on that layer more translucent, so that the layers beneath it show through.

Step 5
Drag the opacity slider back to 100% so that you can see the Stairs normally.

Step 6
On the layers palette, click on the down arrow beside the field that says " Normal". By default, layer appear with a blending mode of Normal.

Step 7
From the drop down menu that appears, choose Hard Mix.

You should notice that the image changes quite dramatically.

Take a few minutes to try out different blending modes and see how the image is affected.

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