Layer Blending Modes are one of those things that are used all the time in modern image editing, but remain a mystery until you take the time to figure out what they actually do. But once you have the knowledge, you may wonder a) how you ever did without them and b) why you thought they were unclear in the first place. So let's get started.
Different Blending modes, explained
Two images were used for these examples. A texture is used as the bottom layer. The top layer becomes a human face. When comparing modes, pay close attention to what happens to the vaults and the light, this will give you additional clues as to what is happening. To clarify: when Affinity Photo creates a blend mode, it compares every channel of each layer. First of all, I will describe all modes. Then I will give some practical examples to get you started.
I often give the English terms in the description because you also encounter them in Affinity Photo.
When describing the blending modes, there are three elements
Basis: This is the bottom layer (the texture from the example)
Blend: The top layer to which the blending mode is applied
Result: The combination of the two layers merged with the Blending mode
No special mixing methods take place here. Decrease opacity to show the underlying layer. (For example at 80%)
Any areas that are darker on the base color will replace the lighter colors on the blend layer. The result is a darker picture.
With the exception of white on the blending colors, each color is darkened. This is like taking two transparencies, overlaying them and holding them up to the light. White is ignored.
Darkens base color and blend color, enhances contrast. Produces a darker and more saturated result. Blending with white does not change.
Decreases the brightness of the base color. Blending with white does not change.
The darkest representation of base or blend pixels. The colors have not changed
The opposite of Darken. The resulting color displayed is the lightest of the base or blend color.
This is the opposite of Multiply. This is the same as taking multiple shots on one film frame as a double exposure. Black is ignored.
Opposite of Color Burn. The basic color influences and contrast are reduced. Blending with black does not change.
Opposite of Linear Burn. Increases brightness. Blending with black does not change.
Opposite of Darken Color. The lighter of the base or blend pixel is displayed. The colors have not changed.
If the colors on the blend color are darker than the base, they are multiplied. If they are lighter, they are screened. This ensures saturated colors and a pleasant contrast. Mixing with 50% gray does not change.
Similar to overlay, but will have less contrast because it uses darker and lighter instead of multiply and screen. This is like diffusing light from the blending color. Mixing with 50% gray does not change.
This is like shining a hard spotlight on the image. If the mixture is darker than 50% gray as it multiplies, it will appear if it is lighter than 50% gray.
Works like Hard Light, but uses color avoidance and color burn instead of multiply and screen. Produces a more contrasting image than hard light.
The blend color is the light source. If the blend color is lighter than 50% gray, the result will be illuminated (hold) as if pressed and held by increasing the brightness. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the result will be printed and the brightness will decrease.
Where the colors on the blend layer are 50% gray, the base layer is translucent. Lighter or darker than 50% gray appears in the blend color.
Reduces the image to solid red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, magenta, white, or black. These are the primary colors. No gradients are shown in the image. This produces a posterized effect.
The lightest colors are subtracted from the dark colors. White reverses the base color and black does not change. This psychedelic blend mode is useful for aligning layers.
Similar to the difference mode, but with less saturation. Very little brightness is displayed for the blend pixels.
This just subtracts the top layer color from the underlying layer color. I'm not sure why it's not included in the dark layer blend mode group. Pretty dark and intense pretty quickly.
Uses the color shade of the blend color. The saturation and brightness of the base pixels are used.
Uses the color saturation of the blend color. The hue and brightness of the base pixels are used.
The color of the blend color is used. The brightness (image detail) of the base pixels is used.
All image details of the blend pixels are displayed with the color of the base color. Opposite of Color.
An average between the image and the composite layer. It's like setting the opacity of the blending layer to 50% in normal mode. It can be used to moderate extreme effects.
Like Difference, but it's additive, so the results of pixels added together instead of subtracted are displayed. It gets brighter instead of darker.
Darkens the image with values from the blend layer. You can use it to enhance parts of an image, such as reflections, rough textures or areas of light.
does the same as Refle, but changes the order of the layers so that it brightens the image with values from the blend layer. Great for broadening and intensifying the beam of artificial light. Also good at painting fantasy animals to quickly build a glow around all the pieces of fantasy animals that glow.
This one seems to have baffled everyone! When you look at it, it seems to be a hybrid of the lighter colors and darker color mixing modes with inverted colors. Look at the color circles, especially the top 3 red, green and blue primary colors. It seems that every pixel below is darker than 50% bright, which means that the hue of the top pixels is displayed. Any underlying pixel lighter than 50% bright means that the complementary (opposite) hue is displayed and the bottom layer luminance and saturation values count for nothing. At least that's how it seems to me.
I must point out that the desktop version of Affinity photo has layer blending modes, such as the blending mode, which takes the transparency of the blending layer and applies it to the base layer as a kind of mask. The blend layer makes holes in the layer below. This is also clearly visible in the example.
This makes the brush work just like the eraser. So what's the problem? Why not just use the eraser? Using this blend mode with the shape tool will give it a whole new life. Who wants to make a selection, press delete and then disable the selection? The clear mode turns the shape tool into a pixel-eating machine. (Make sure the fill pixels option is selected in the options bar) This is very useful for obtaining unusual shapes like a battle ax.
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