Design Method

Photoshop Blending Modes


Photoshop is a powerful programme, it’s capabilities are endless and can be overwhelming. One of the very exciting tools is the blending modes. On discovering these you can have hours of fun as you explore the transforming effects these each have on your images. The blending mode that works well with one image may not work so well with another image.

First you need to open your chosen image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer. (With the background layer selected press the keyboard shortcut cmd and j or in the main Photoshop menu select Layer/Duplicate Layer)

1 Duplicate layer

In the Layers pallet above click on the drop down menu where it says Normal. This is the menu for the blending modes. These are all the options:

Screen shot 2014-02-21 at 16.47.55

Below are examples of some of Photoshop’s blending modes. Inspired by the success of Great Britain at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, I have used an image of curling stones which I found on

To apply a blending mode, you just need to have your top layer selected and then choose one of the options from the menu. The 100% in the image description is referring to the layer’s opacity level.

Original   Multiply-100   Colour-Burn-100   Linear-Burn-100   Screen100   Colour-Dodge-100   Overlay-100   Soft-Light-100   Linear-Light-100   Hard-Mix-100   Exclusion-100  

If the effect is too intense you can reduce the opacity of the affected layer. Below is with the layer set at 50% Opacity.

Multiply-50   Screen-50

So there you have it. Choose your image and have fun exploring what you can do with it. This is just a glimpse of what you can do in Photoshop with blending modes. It can be explored further when you add multiple layers with effects and reduce the opacity, and also when you mask parts of some of the layers.