Photoshop blend modes - does anyone use them?

Hi all,

I recently did a beauty job and the creative director was a stills retoucher by trade. He was really into a ‘dodge & burn’ technique which looks great for stills but was not so great for applying to the moving images I was working on! FYI painting the spots, A2 beauty and max/lighten the skin highlights back worked a treat for this job.

I was wondering do any of you lovely lot use the photoshop blend modes for anything else exciting or mundane as I don’t really use them at present!


Yep. A lot of them work better in log though. I used to use colour burn for pack replacements when shot with a white label.

With all the linear stuff we’ve worked on I’ve found other methods which use a lot of add, subtract, multiply; stuff that’s easy on the maths.



I use them when trying to “develop a look” for packaging generally. I even have the blend mode pop-up on a cycling hotkey so I can go through them like clicking on a tv remote.

And crok_lightwrap gives better results with other modes sometimes.

Also, when I try to create a mono-color version of an image:
Comp: Photoshop mode, Colour
Front : Target color
Back : Your image with a mono node attached


Photoshop Color FTW!

Pixel Spread / Interpolate + Photoshop Color is the best automatic edge washer ever.


great tips thanks Sinan!

nice one JT

When you bring photoshop documents into action they revert to the original photoshop surface mode. Also, Linear Light with a HiPass filter makes a nice sharpener.


I’ll use Photoshop Color a lot when doing blood to mud on skin for broadcast. I sample some skin, set a colour source node to the sampled color, and set the colour source to Photoshop Color and mask. It can really speed up the process.

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The Photoshop transfer modes I use most often (and it’s quite often!) in order are: Color, Hue, and Luminosity.

I’ve also found that the GIMP / Value setting will deliver a look that no Photoshop transfer mode can match.


Hi Chris,

In what context do you use those blend modes?

great tip Randy!

I still prefer wash for this because it doesn’t colour highlights but it’s best used in log/rec.

To make wash split your picture and colour into YUV. Take the Y from the picture and the UV from the colour and combine.

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Epoulson –

I’ll use those blend modes any time that I don’t feel like spending a lot of time color-correcting an element to match my comp.

A theoretical example… your client is a soft-drink company. During the finish they realize the soda can is not the right hue and they send color reference.

I grab a Colour Source node and sample the exact color of the can. GMask the can, get a comp node with your Color Source as the front, packshot as the back and your GMask as the matte. Set the comp node to Photoshop and pick Color or Hue.

A few other suggestions: even out skin tones when doing beauty work (say to remove red patches), bring the desired hue to over-suppressed bluescreen/greenscreen edges, knock back undesirable high-saturation reflections in car cleanup shots.

I use it all the time!

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Personally, I’ve never used PS blend modes.

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soul food miami GIF by WE tv

I didn’t even know about blend modes until like 2002. I picked up Kyle Cooper’s setup and I was like, WHOA.

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In the dark days before action had anything other than blend and add, you could have brought all work at Imaginary Forces to a stop simply by removing Sapphire MathOps from the flames.

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Haven’t thought about S_MathOps in ages!

What was its equivalent – Color? Chroma?

Yes! This… Color is the only one I use…

Hey Sinan. Did you get reverse cycling in your hotkey?. It was great when adsk added this shorcut to blend modes in action, (cycling up and cycling down using two shorcuts) but I miss it a lot in comp nodes. I tried since long time ago but I never find out how get the shorcut to cycle down.