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How To Use Blending Modes In Photoshop To Dramatically Change The Look of Your Picture!

Using blending modes in Photoshop to make edit portraits easier and to get fun new looks!

Have you ever looked at your photo while you were editing and just thought, blah!?

Not that it was bad, but just a bit boring. You wanted it to have more of a pop to it! I know just the thing that might help.

Blending modes in Photoshop might be what you were looking for to add that punch and creativity to your images! Not sure what they are or how to use them? Watch or read below to learn and then try it out on your own!

What Are Blending Modes?

To put it really simply, they will change the way the colors in your image look in Photoshop. Right below is my original image. Keep reading to learn how to create many different looks of this same image in just a matter of seconds!

Photo taken with the Canon 135mm 2.0 lens

Most Common Modes

The blending modes are broken into categories. The more common ones that are used are the ones that will lighten the colors, that will darken the colors and will add contrast to the colors. Take a look below to see the different groups. Each one will make your photo look slightly different.

How To Apply Them

You can choose to apply blending modes to your images as a whole OR certain parts of your image to really pinpoint the look you are going for. To apply them either duplicate your background layer, OR you can choose an adjustment layer like curves or levels (it doesn’t really matter because you won’t be altering those adjustments). With that level selected chose blending modes and select the one you’d like. Play around with the different modes to see the difference it makes on your photo! (See that pink arrow, that’s where you change them!)


Get Detailed

Take blending modes one step farther and target only the areas you want affected. Complete the same steps as above, but this time add a layer mask and invert it. Brush on only the area you want that blending mode to show through! ( Watch me above in the video to see in more detail!)

Here are just a few of the different blending modes applied on that original image. See the dramatic difference!

And there you have it! Now’s your chance to get really creative! Try different modes on your photos and see the difference it makes!

I get a little lonely back here behind your screen and I always LOVE to know if you are reading and what you think!? Leave me a quick comment below to let me know if this helped you!

This was my final image. I decided to use the blending mode “linear burn” because I just loved the deep rich colors and moodiness it gave the photo. I wanted it to look edgy and dramatic. In addition to the blending mode change, I also used the Cozy Clicks Perfect Portrait Retouching Photoshop Actions on the subjects on just the above image.


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How To Use blend modes in Photoshop.  Photshop tips for new photographers wanting to instantly change the look of their photo inside Photoshop. Learn photography hacks for new photographers.  Learn all about blend modes here!
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  • RaghavendranJuly 29, 2020 - 5:29 am

    very lucid information on blending modes. ThanksReplyCancel

  • ColleenOctober 18, 2019 - 6:21 am

    This was VERY helpful I am a newbie and this is a perfect amount of information, made simple enough to follow. ReplyCancel

  • Lou BeisterJuly 26, 2018 - 6:57 am

    Yes this will help, thank you so muchReplyCancel

  • LeahJuly 17, 2018 - 1:46 pm

    This will absolutely be helpful! Thank you so much! 
    ~ Leah ReplyCancel

  • NicoleJuly 12, 2018 - 11:15 am

    I had totally forgotten about blending modes! Back in the day I would use soft light and screen quite a bit to lighten my photos. I think I stopped using them after I purchased a set of actions and use those for most of my editing now. Thanks for reminding me about them, they really are a great quick fix!ReplyCancel

  • Ariadna DiazMay 31, 2018 - 9:48 pm

    Great quick video im trying this tomorrow and will let uou know how it goes. ReplyCancel

  • DirckMay 22, 2018 - 12:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this “simple trick” with us. Very useful.ReplyCancel

  • DonMay 19, 2018 - 4:00 pm

    Great video… really like the topic and your recommendations.ReplyCancel

  • sharonMay 17, 2018 - 6:57 am

    S Dowell: wonderful added functions that are so easy to use and make such a difference.  most of all, your quick tutorials have better help me understand layers which is a biggie for me.  I would just give up in the past. ReplyCancel

  • PegMay 17, 2018 - 6:42 am

    Thank you so much for all your tutorials.  They are very informative and appreciated.ReplyCancel

  • SharonMay 16, 2018 - 5:53 am

    quick and very informative! I love how you can start off for a painterly look by using the blend more first and then enhancing the effect with dodge / burn, etc.!ReplyCancel

  • ChanelMay 15, 2018 - 10:47 pm

    Thank you so much Emily ?? Your tutorials are amazing xx loads of creative love from South Africa ?? ReplyCancel

  • Tanya FanoMay 15, 2018 - 11:20 am

    This was great Emily! I love these tutorials. You are such a great teacher!ReplyCancel

  • judi chapmanMay 15, 2018 - 9:05 am

    this was great! thank you ReplyCancel

  • DebbieMay 15, 2018 - 7:40 am

    I am going to have to try this, thank for the tips! ReplyCancel

  • Crista LynchMay 15, 2018 - 5:35 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you!ReplyCancel

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