How To Use Blending Modes In Photoshop

How To Use Blending Modes In Photoshop

If you haven’t played around with blending modes in Photoshop, get ready to have some fun. Photoshop features over two dozens of these modes you can experiment with to get some pretty cool effects when combining images and layers. Without blending modes, it would be impossible to “blend” layers together, limiting you to using opacity or fill, which generally won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Keep reading to learn how to use blending modes in Photoshop. 

fall leaves


Blend modes, however, enable you to make adjustments in luminance, saturation, and color, while also controlling the opacity, allowing you to make subtle, yet significant changes to your images. In this tutorial, I’ll be showing you a few of my favorites blending modes and how to use them. The 27 blending modes are grouped into six categories, with a line dividing each group.

These groupings make it much easier to categorized the modes, rather than remembering what each individual one does. The six groups in descending order include: Normal, Darken, Lighten, Contrast, Inversion, and Component. The first set of modes, “Normal” and “Dissolve” don’t produce any noticeable change within the layers without reducing opacity. When using “Dissolve,” you can adjusting the opacity to reveal a diffusion-type pattern.

The second set of modes is applicable for darkening an image, the third set is for lightening, the fourth set is good if you want a combination of both, the fifth set of modes can yield some pretty interesting effects. I don’t usually use modes within this category. The last set of blending modes allows you to exclusively adjust either the hue, saturation, color, OR luminosity of an image, making it possible to have substantial control over the effects you want to achieve.

Using Blending Modes In Photoshop

I only use a handful of the 27 blending modes Photoshop offers, and will be sharing my favorite ones below. Here is the original image I’ll be working with in Photoshop:

forest in fall

Open your image in Photoshop and navigate to the layer’s palette. Either duplicate the background layer by going to the top menu and clicking on “Image” then “Duplicate” or create a new adjustment layer by going to the “Create new or adjustment fill layer”  at the bottom of the layer’s palette. It doesn’t matter what option you choose in the dropdown menu as we’ll be working with blending modes.

Get Photoshop Here

Working on your new layer, click the blending mode’s dropdown menu next to “Normal” and to the left of “Opacity.” I’m choosing “Screen.” You can see how much lighter my image looks after I’ve applied the blending mode.  Adjust the opacity to get the effect you want.

screen blending mode

In the following image, I used the “Vivid Light” blending mode with a reduced opacity of 75%. Now the photo has a more dramatic feel, and that’s after lowering the opacity to 25%. It would be even more dramatic at 100% opacity, but I prefer it the way it is.

vivid light

In the image below, I changed the blending mode to “Multiply,”, and reduced the opacity to 79%. Notice how much darker the tree trunks are.


I used a “Soft Light” blending mode to get the effect in the image below. Note the difference in the leaves in the foreground of the photo.

soft light blending mode

Notice how much brighter the yellows are in the following image. I used the “Luminosity” blending mode to achieve the overall luminescent effect.

luminosity blending mode

There you have it, five of my favorite blending modes. Play around with each of the modes to get a feel for how they look, You’ll quickly find out which ones you like using the most.

EOS Rebel banner

Key Points

Blending modes are used by combining the pixels of one layer, and blending them with another layer’s pixels to create an effect. Modes are fun to experiment with to see what unique results you can come up with. Have fun using blending modes in Photoshop.

If you’ve used blending modes, which ones are your favorite? Let me know in the comments:)

4 thoughts on “How To Use Blending Modes In Photoshop”

  1. Photography is something I have fun doing, it’s been a thing in my family for over two generations now. Although, I’m not in it for the money, I have fun snapping pictures of natural things and editing the images. I have never tried any kind of advanced editing, I’ve only used my phone. Learning this kind of editing from your tutorial would take my photos up a notch. Thanks for the great tutorial.

    • Hi Benson,

      How fun to have a bunch of photographers in the family. Taking photos and editing is a great way to be creative, and you can do so much on your phone with all the advances they’ve made. Thanks so much for reading my tutorial and taking the time to comment:)

  2. Hey thank you for the great article!   I use Photoshop a lot, but I’m not a good photographer.  I found this to be a great article on the different blend features I can use in Photoshop.  Do you use any other features other than blending?  Also, do you use any other programs for your photos.  I love the photo of the trees.

    • Hi Jessie,

      Thank you. Photoshop is the best, isn’t it? I use Photoshop exclusively for editing images. I know there’s an assortment of apps you can get on your phone for photo editing. 

      I use most of the tools Photoshop offers, but of course, I have my favorites like the clone and eraser tools. I especially like using blending modes because of the interesting effects you can get with them. Thanks so much for reading my tutorial. 


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.