Adobe Photoshop Tutorial. Copyright Michael B. Karbo.

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    Blend Modes

    You have seen that Photoshop can work with pictures, which are comprised of multiple layers. You have also previously seen that layers can be totally or partially transparent. But layers (and other objects) can also blend with each other in a number of different ways.

    This function is called blend mode, and that is a property, which you among other things can associate with layers. The result is that the picture data (pixels), which are in one layer blend with the pixels that are in the layer immediately below, on an underlaying layer. And there are many ways in which they can blend.

    Figure 34. Blending modes gives opportunities for pixels in one layer to change colors based on the underlying pixels’ colors.

    Our experience is that there is an untold number of variations when you blend two layers using blend modes. Therefore you need to experiment with that, and you will surely experince that the result is quite unpredicatble. Never the less the blending modes add a new dimension to (especially creative) picture processing. Try that in this small exercise:

    1.   You have the image file sapiens1.psd read into Photoshop. It has two layers, of which the topmost only has a copy of parts of the bottom layer (the red areas).

    2.   If you temporarily turn the showing of the bottom layer off, your picture will look about like this:

    3.   Now turn the showing on for both layers. Then select the top layer in the Layer palette.

    4.   Notice the small field in the palette, where the text Normal can be read. It indicates the blend mode of the layer. Click on the arrow to the right of the field:

    5.   Then a list scrolls down, which contains the possible blend modes. Choose the Multiply mode like here:

    6.   Then look at the picture. The result is a surprising color effect. But there are many other possibilities.

    7.   Press ArrowUp to see the next layer blending mode. For each keypress you switch to a new blending mode. That holds true as long as the blending mode is selected in the layer palette (NOTE, this does not always work in Windows 98):


    8.   Now find a mode that gives a good color effect. That can be Overlay or Vivid light.

    9.   In this way the red picture areas on the top layer can produce an advantageous light effect (because of the chosen blending mode) on the underlying layer.

    10.   If you think that the new version of the picture came out good (and we expect that), you need to merge the two layers using menu items Layer --> Merge Down (or press Control+e):

    11.   Save the image file again. Now it has only one layer with picture data.

    You might want to copy the new figure into the image file la_defense.psd as replacement for the earlier versions of the human bodies, which then need to be deleted.

    Tools collection

    There are many tools in Photoshop. In this part of the booklet we have introduced these:

    Figure 35. Tools used in this part of the booklet.

    Shortcuts collection

    There are incredibly many keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop – there should be over 400! It can be a little frustrating with that large number of shortcuts, since they are good to know – but so hard to remember. Especially if you don’t use the program daily.

    Below you see a table of a number of keyboard shortcuts; most of which you have used in this part of the booklet:

    Shortcuts for picture processing


    Activates (temporarily) Move tool.


    Activates (temporarily) Hand tool.


    Cancels selection.


    Free transformation.


    Auto Color function.


    Inverts a selection.


    Opens a new layer.




    Fills with foreground color.

    Fills with background color.

    Opens the dialog box Fill.

    Shortcuts for views etc.


    Enlarges/reduces the view.

    Control+0 (nul)

    Fits the picture to the window.


    Shows actual pixels (100 %).


    Switches between open pictures.


    Closes the picture.
    Closes all open pictures.

    Figure 36. When you work in Photoshop, there is ample opportunity to us the keyboard in stead of the mouse. You just need to remember the shortcuts.

    As said there are innumerable shortcuts in Photoshop, and you will guaranteed only need a small part of them.

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