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Photoshop Blendmodes Explained

Photoshop has a long list of blendmodes. Most of us know which blendmode to use by experience, but for a beginning texture artist the range of blendmodes can be confusing.

In this tutorial I'll go through each blendmode and explain what the blendmode does. For the most important blendmodes I will show practical examples.

Photoshop divides the blendmodes in 6 groups, I'll keep to this organisation because it makes a lot of sense. Here is the full list:

1. The Default blendmodes
- Normal
- Dissolve

2. The Darkening blendmodes
- Darken
- Multiply
- Linear Burn
- Color Burn

3. The Brightening blendmodes
- Lighten
- Screen
- Linear Dodge
- Color Dodge

4. The Conditional blendmodes
- Overlay
- Soft Light
- Hard Light
- Vivid Light
- Linear Light
- Pin Light

5. The Mathematical blendmodes
- Hard Mix
- Difference
- Exclusion

6. The HSV blendmodes
- Hue
- Saturation
- Color
- Luminosity

I will use two terms extensively in the tutorial: Base Layer and Blend Layer. The Base Layer is the bottom or background layer, this layer is always set to the blendmode 'Normal'.

The Blend layer sits above the Base layer and uses the blendmode that is being discussed:

The Base Layer and the Blend Layer.

Click 'Next' to go to the explanation of the first blendmodes: Normal and Dissolve.

Next: The Default Blendmodes

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