Exploring Layer Blend Modes

PSP Tip for October 4, 2001

Visually experience the various layer blend modes in PSP7 on three images.

There is no actual tutorial exercise this week but you can download
and experiment with the .psp images used in this tip.
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In Paint Shop Pro when an image contains more than just the background layer, you
have the opportunity to change the way a layer interacts with the layers and the background below it.

"The layer blend modes are methods of combining the pixels of the current (active)
Raster or Vector layer with the pixels of the underlying layers."

"You are not combining the layers permanently; you are previewing the way they will appear if combined."

"The current layer whose blend mode you are changing is the Blend layer. The pixels
of this layer are blended into the result of the combination of the pixels of all the underlying layers, not merely the layer directly underneath it."

(Source: All quoted paragraphs are from PSP Help Files in About Layer Blend Modes)

What does this all mean?

Layer blend modes are based on special algorithms, too complicated to get into here,
which control how the pixels are combined with the pixels under them. I will go through each Blend Mode, giving visual examples of how the blend modes react on 3 sample images, and giving PSP's Help file explanation of what's happening in each Mode.

If you want to practice with these images, I have included the .psp files in the zip or as a linked file here on the Web page. On the Web, right click this link, psp10401files.zip, and save to your hard drive. Then unzip and open each image in PSP.

In the AOL download the tutorial, unzip as usual to the the Fall01 folder or wherever you put last weeks tutorial files. Fire up PSP and do a File > Open from the Menu bar and browse to the folder where your images are and open them from there.

Open the Layer Palette in PSP, L, on your keyboard.

Click the title bar of each PSP image and notice the Layer names listed on the Layer palette. Click the eye glasses icon on each layer to turn it off or on so you get a clear idea what each layer looks like. Select the appearance tab on the right panel of the layer palette, so that the Opacity and Blend modes are visible. Clicking the right facing arrow beside the word normal pops up the list of available blend modes.

We will pick each blend mode in order and apply to the top layer in each image and see how they compare.

(To complicate things, you can adjust the opacity to decrease the effect.)

What you should learn here is that experimenting and practice with the layer blend modes will help you add special effects to your images. Don't be afraid, practice, practice, practice. Push all the buttons, slide all the sliders! No blend mode is permanent until you actually Merge the layers.

NOTE: Layer blend modes only work on images above 8 bit, 256 colors. Any thing
less won't allow a layer in PSP to start with. LOL

For the sake of time, images are supplied showing the layers and the the layer palette in a normal state for each image. See below.

Visual exploration of blend modes.

I will show a composite of the effect for each one, compared to Normal.

Column 1: Normal

 

 

 

 

Column 2: Darken

"Pixels in the selected layer that are darker
than the underlying layers are applied to
the image. Pixels lighter than the
underlying layers disappear."

Column 3: Lighten

" The lighter of the blend and base colors is displayed."

Column 4 shows Hue

" Applies the hue of the selected layer to
the underlying layer."

As you compare the results in each of the images, you can tell that there is a LOT of variation. Not all modes will have a positive effect on the image. ;)
Column 1: Normal

 

 

 

Column 2: Saturation

"Applies the saturation of the selected layer to the underlying layers."

Column 3: Color

"Applies the hue and saturation of the selected layer to the image. The luminance of the underlying layers is not affected"

Column 4: Luminance

"Applies the luminance of the selected layer to the luminance values of the underlying layers. Color is not affected."

Again compare the results of each mode on each image. On some images Color is just ghastly but on the arc, its pretty neat. Luminance, one of my favorites, is a very cool effect on the Butterfly image and on the arc image but doesn't do doodly on the text image.

Column 1: Normal

 

 

 

Column 2: Multiply

"Combines the colors of the selected layer with the underlying layers to produce a darker color. Multiplying any color with black produces black; multiplying any color with white leaves the color unchanged."

Column 3:Screen

"Lightens the underlying color by multiplying the inverse of the blend and base colors. The result is a color that is the same or a lightened version of the base color."

(Some heavy math going on there, eh?)

Column 4: Dissolve

"Randomly replaces the colors of some pixels on the selected layer with those of the layer underneath to create a speckled effect. The number of pixels replaced is determined by the layer's opacity, with more pixels being replaced as the opacity decreases."

These samples of dissolve do have some degree of layer opacity applied, so you can see the basic effect. In the butterfly the opacity is about 75, Text is at 100 percent, and arc is at about 50 percent.

Column 1: Normal

 


Column 2: Overlay

"Combines two previous blend modes. If the underlying layers' color channel value is less than half the maximum value, the Multiply blend mode is used."

"If the color channel value is greater than or equal to half, the Screen mode is used. This shows patterns or colors of the upper layer while preserving the shadows and highlight of the lower layers."

That's a brain load, eh?

Column 3: Hard light

"Combines two previous blend modes. If the selected color channel value is less than 128, half the maximum value, the Multiply mode is used. "

"If the selected layer's color channel value is greater than or equal to 128, the Screen
mode is used. This mode is generally used to add highlights or shadows."

Column 4: Soft Light

""Combines two previous blend modes. If the selected layer's color channel value is less than half the maximum value, the Burn mode is used. "

"If the selected layer's color channel value is greater than or equal to half, the Dodge
mode is used. This mode is generally used to add soft highlights or shadows."

Column 1: Difference

"Subtracts the selected layer's color from the color of the underlying layers, depending on which is lighter."

Column 2: Dodge

" The lightness values of the colors in the Blend layer lighten the colors of the underlying layers, lightening the image. Light colors produce the most lightening; black has no effect."

Column 3: Burn

"The lightness values of the colors in the Blend layer reduce the lightness of the underlying layers, darkening the image."

Column 4: Exclusion

"Creates an effect similar to but softer than the Difference mode."

There you have it. I know it sounds like a bunch of gobbledy gook, but if you compare and contrast what these modes do and TRY THEM OUT, you will discover fabulous new image effects.
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