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Blending Modes Breakdown


An example of adding bokeh with a "lighten" blending mode.

If you use photoshop or any editing apps, you have probably come across the term ‘blending modes.’ So what are they, and how can you use them to your editing advantage?


To put is very simply, blending modes tell your photo editor how you want two layers to interact.


If you want your top layer to appear completely opaque on top of your bottom layer, than the “normal” blending mode will do the trick. If you only want the parts of the top layer that are lighter than their corresponding pixels in the bottom layer to remain visible, then you want to use “lighten.” Conversely, if you only want the parts of the top layer that are darker than their corresponding pixels in the bottom layer to remain visible, then you want to use “darken.” There are plenty of other blending modes - don't be afraid to try them out for yourself to learn more about their effects!


I use blending modes all the time within two of my favorite apps; Union and Mextures. In Union, I use blending modes to achieve an effect similar to a double exposure. In Mextures, I use blending modes to refine exactly how I want their filters to effect my photos.


I can go more in depth or answer questions if you have any, so don’t be shy in the comments!