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Using Blend Modes

When it comes to creative tools, Photoshop has a plethora of them. One of the best tools for making layers look great when they are stacked on each other is a Blend mode. Blend modes influence the way that layers interact. Different Blend modes produce various results. A favorite tool of compositors and collage artists, Blend modes are also very useful for video, too. They make it easy for you to create that wow effect with your videos.

Each Blend mode changes the way that a layer reacts with the layer underneath it. You can get a small inkling of how a Blend mode affects a clip by adjusting the opacity of a layer. Using Blend modes opens up an entirely new world. A technical explanation of each Blend mode is provided in Photoshop’s Help menu. Don’t get too caught up in the Blend mode definitions. What matters is how they look in your video, and the best way to determine this is to experiment with them.

Working with Blend Modes

To use a layer Blend mode, you need to have a document with at least two layers. At the top of the Layers panel is an option called Normal. Click the drop-down menu next to Normal to see all the available modes (Figure 4.21).

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21. Changing the Blend mode of a video layer.

You change a layer’s Blend mode by first selecting the layer. Then click the drop-down menu and choose one of the Blend modes to view the result in your document window.

Let’s add a little something to the current project (ch4.psd) you are working on using the Blend modes:

  1. Choose the layer with the ocean on it.
  2. Change the Blend mode to Overlay. Scrub through the video and notice the result of blending two layers of video together (Figure 4.23). It looks like a more complex effect than it actually is, and it’s lots of fun! Try applying various modes to your layers. You may like a different one better.
    Figure 4.23

    Figure 4.23. The layer Blend mode is changed to Overlay.

  3. Feel free to experiment with the opacity of the top layer, too, by changing its setting in the Layers panel. My preference is an Opacity of 90% (Figure 4.24), but choose what looks best to you.
    Figure 4.24

    Figure 4.24. Drop the Opacity to 90% for a better-looking result.

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