Contrast Blending Modes By Kitten

Well that was an extended break. Hey everyone it’s your favorite… ok that’s pushing it, it’s kitten!

So much has been going on with closing out 2020 that I’m sorry the blending modes explained was put on a hold. But we’re back! And we’re on to the favorites of everyone from newbies to veterans of graphic design……… Contrast Blending Modes queue studio cheering

These blending modes are a mixture between the Darken and the Lighten Blending Modes we discussed previously. They create contrast by both lightening and darkening the result colors by using complementary Blending Modes to create the blend. (You look so gooooood – see complementary).

PS checks to see if the colors are darker than 50% gray or lighter than 50% gray. If they’re darker than the 50%, a darkening Blending Mode is applied… you can guess what happens if the colors are brighter, whispers a brightening Blending Mode is applied.

Except for Hard Mix cause it’s a bitch … but all blending modes in this category turn 50% gray transparent.

Let’s get to it!

As always these are the two images we’ll be using

This is one of Photoshop’s most widely used Blending Modes. A combination of Multiply and Screen with the base layer always shining through. Overlay uses the Screen blending mode at half strength on colors lighter than 50% gray, and the multiply blending mode at half strength* on colors darker than 50% gray. If it’s 50% gray itself, it will become transparent.
*half strength doesn’t mean “Opacity at 50%”

Basically think of Overlay as shifting mid-tones. Dark blend colors will shift mid-tones to darker colors and light-tones will shift the mid-tones to brighter colors.

What differentiates Overlay from the other Contrast Blending Modes, is it makes calculations based on the brightness of the colors in the base layer(bottom). All the others make theirs based on the brightness of the blend layer(top).

Soft Light

A lot like Overlay, it applies either a darkening or lightening effect depending on the luminance values.. but more subtle. It’s like a softer version of Overlay without the harsh contrast.

Hard Light

Comibining the Mulitply and Screen blending modes using the brightness values of the blend layer to make its calculations. This differentiates from Overlay that uses the base layer.

This causes the resultes to tend to be intense, often you’ll want to lower the opacity to get better results.

Because of it’s name you’d think it would have something in common with Soft Light, but nope! It’s actually more closely related to Overlay.

Vivid Light

Think of this blend kind of like the extreme version of Overlay and Soft Light. Anything darker than 50% gray is darkened, and anything lighter than 50% gray is lightened. This is definitely one of those blending modes you’re going to want to adjust the opacity, since 100% opacity is generally too strong.

Linear Light

This uses a combination of Linear Dodge on lighter pixels and Linear Burn on darker pixels (reference past postings for information on those 2). Typically, the result is going to be extreme and you may want to use Opacity or the Fill sliders to adjust it.

Pin Light

This is an extreme blending mode that performs a Darken & Lighten blending mode simultaneously. It can result in patches or blotches, and completely removes all mid-tones.

Hard Mix

Finally our last in the Contrast blending modes. This blending mode applies the blend by adding the value of each RGB (Red, Green, Blue) channel into the blend layer to the corresponding RGB channel in the base layer. Your resulting image loses a lot of detail and the colors can only be black, white, or any of the six primary colors (Red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, or yellow).

As it’s an extreme blending more, you’ll want to use opacity and fill to reduce the effect. Fill most likely is your best option for reducing the effect cause it’ll give you better results than opacity.

As always I hope y’all enjoyed this. Remember to be safe out there and tip your delivery drivers!