Blend Modes in Photoshop

Blend modes are an awesome way to change the way photos look as well as to make different backgrounds or papers.  Extend your paper stash by using blend modes.  This tutorial will make a flat patterned paper into a wrinkled patterned paper and uses Photoshop CS3, a patterned paper (from ViVa Artistry) and a textured crinkled paper (from Bekah E. Designs).











A blend mode is how pixels in one layer can affect the pixels in the next layer.   But blend modes can be tricky to use.  Blend modes can be found in the layers palette:


First, let’s define some words.  The base is the bottom image, in this case, the patterned paper.  The blend is the top layer, or the textured paper.  There are 3 sets of blend modes that are commonly used in digital scrapbooking:  Darken, Lighten, and Contrast.  The first top two are:  Normal,  which is what it’s defaulted at, and Dissolve which is usually not used at all in digi scrapping.


There are 5 types of modes in the Darken section.  This works really great in dar

kening up the paper or photo.  The first one is Darken.  This will select the darkest color in the base and change the lightest color in the blend.

The second is Multiply.  This takes the base color and multiplies it with the blend color.  It usually darkens so if your base is black, it will turn the blend black.

Color Burn takes the base and uses the blend to burn in and giving it more contrast.  Again, this darkens.

Linear Burn works similar to Multiply and decreases the brightness.

Darker Color is the same as Darken but with a darker color.


There are 5 types as well in the Lighten section.  The opposite of Darken, this section lightens up and makes each paper brighter or whiter.

Lighten takes the lightes color in the base and changes the darker colors in the blend to make it lighter.

Screen brightens the paper by using the lightness of the blend.  Use this mode to lighten a dark photo or paper.

Color Dodge also brightens the base by decreasing contrast of the blend paper.

Linear Dodge (add) brightens the base by increasing brightness in the blend paper.

Lighter Color is similar to Lighten with more color.


The Contrast section has seven modes.  Overlay is the first and multiplies the light colors and screens the dark colors using the base and mixes the blend in.

Soften is much more diffused than Overlay with more gray.  It screens and multiplies as well but with more subtlety.

Harden multiplies the dark colors and screens the light colors and therefore gives better shadows or spotlight.

Vivid increases and decreases contrast on the base and does this by dodging and burning.

Linear Light is similar to Vivid but increases brightness of the base.

Pin Light replaces the color of the base depending on the blend.  It multiplies if the blend is darker than grey and screens if the blend is lighter than grey.

Hard Mix adds in red, green and blue to the blend.  The sum of each channel will be either 255 or 0.  All pixels will be primary colors red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, magenta, white or black.


There are only two modes in this section.  Difference takes the differences between the light and dark of each layer.  Large differences will lighten the color, small differences darken the color.

Exclusion is similar but has less contrast.

Changing Paper Texture

Place the textured paper over the patterned paper.  The textured paper layer should be above the patterned paper.  On the layers palette on the textured paper layer, select the blend mode of choice.  Adjust the opacity to also change the look of the paper.  Additionally, brushes can be added or delete by using a grunge eraser to make a worn looking vintage background.  Whatever the case, these blend modes will give more options for more papers!

Leave a Reply


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *