Digital Scrapbook Tutorial | Using Blend Modes

Hey everyone, Ona here with a tutorial on Blending Modes. Blending is what makes digital scrapbooking so exciting and so different to paper based scrapbooking. Blending is such an amazing and versatile technique and one of the things I do on just about every layout I create.

Quite simply, layer blend modes allow us to blend two or more layers together which can result in some very striking and creative effects. The layer to which you apply a blend mode will interact with the layer below it, so you need at least two layers to start with. But virtually anything on the layer can be blended with the layer beneath it so it can be used to edit, retouch or restore photos or in digital scrapbooking it can add some pretty dramatic effects to a layout by blending multiple papers or elements together.

In this tutorial I will cover off on just what each type of blend mode actually does so that you can pretty well know which blend mode will give you the effect you are after.

Blending Mode - Main Groups

Basically the modes are divided into groups; those that result in a darker blend, those that lighten, those that effect the hue or saturation of a colour and those that add contrast.

For the examples below I have used a Poppy Stamp from Rachel's Believe In Beautiful kit. 

cvisions_believeinbeautiful_poppystamp_clr SML.png

Blend modes that darken are grouped under the Normal and Dissolve modes. These blend modes accentuate the dark shades while hiding the lighter shades of your object. Remember to take into the account the layer underneath. In the example below the background colour is neutral. The blending effects will be different depending on the background colour (colour underneath it) so you may need to play around and experiment.

1. Normal
2. Multiply
3. Colour Burn
4. Linear Burn
* I have left out the Dissolve, Darker and Darken Colours modes. The Dissolve mode is not one that is used a lot and the other two modes are similar to the rest of the others in this grouping.

Blend modes that lighten are ideal to use to lighten a photo, paper or embellishment of some sort. As mentioned above for the first blend group, the final result is dependent on the colour of the layer beneath it. For this group, applying one of these modes to an item that has a white background underneath it would not create much of an effect and therefore would work better with darker backgrounds.

2 Blending modes.jpg

5. Screen
6. Colour Dodge
7. Linear Dodge (Add)
8. Lighter Colour

Blend modes that create contrast offer a combination of dark and light blend modes. These modes give some very soft and/or dramatic results, not only on photos but also on papers and elements in a layout.

9. Overlay
10 Soft Light
11. Hard Light
12. Vivid Light

13. Linear Light
14. Pin Light
15. Hard Mix 

 Comparative Modes, are not used all that much but they can give some surprisingly creative results so by all means experiment with these to see what effects you end up with. Note: Subtract and Divide are not available in Photoshop Elements.

16. Difference
17. Exclusion
18. Subtract
19. Divide

Composite blend modes work with the colour and tonal values. Use these blend modes when working with colour in mind - add a new layer above a black and white photo and change it to the Colour blend mode, then use your brush with a selection of colour to 'paint' over and photo.

20. Hue
21. Colour
22. Saturation
23. Luminosity

Working with Blend Modes
When it comes to actually working with the blend modes, just remember that their basic principles will never change, ie. the darken modes will always darken. the lighten modes will always lighten etc. the results will depend on what tonal values are present in the layer beneath it.

Here is a page I created using the My Wish For You kit and a png file from the Artified: My Wish For You template. As you will see I tend to use blending modes a lot when creating a layout.

Below you will find how I constructed this layout, layer by layer, together with blending modes I used - working from the bottom layer (1) to the top layer (22) I have noted the blending mode and layer opacity in brackets.

Layer 1 - Background paper (Normal 100%)
Layer 2 - Artified Overlay (Linear Burn 100%)
Layer 3 - Stamp03 (Divide 51%)
Layer 4 - Gesso (Normal 100%)
Layer 5 - Copy of Gesso, Sharpened with High Pass (Linear Light 100%)
Layer 6 - Date stamp (recoloured) (Linear Burn 100%)
Layer 7 - Date stamp copy (Linear Burn 100%)
Layer 8 - Paint Splatter - (Divide 100%)
Layer 9 - Dandelion Stamp 1-copy of some of the seeds only (Normal 100%)
Layer 10 - Dandelion Stamp 2-copy of some of the seeds only (Normal 100%)
Layer 11 - Paint02 - used Gradient Mask to hide the part I didn't need. (Divide 100%)
Layer 12 - Bokeh (Normal 100%)
Layer 13 - Copy of Layer 12 (Colour Burn 35%)
Layer 14 - Dandelion Stamp (Normal 100%)
Layer 15 - Paint Splatter (Divide 100%)
Layer 16 - Element Overlay (Linear Burn 100%)
Layer 17 - Photo original (Normal 100%)
Layer 18 - Photo copy 1 (Colour Burn 100%)
Layer 19 - Photo copy 2 (Linear Light 68%)
Layer 20 - Triangle cutout from Element Overlay, filled with White. (Normal 60%)
Layer 21 - Wordart05 (Normal 100%)
Layer 22 - Wordart02 (Normal 100%)

The main thing to remember is that whatever blend mode you use, it will react to the layer below it. Experiment and try different combinations, that is really the only way you are going to learn what works and what doesn't.

Inspiration from the Captivating Sistas:

By Lisa - First layout:

Credits: Aquarelle kit | This Crazy Life (collab with Erica Zane)

Credits: Aquarelle kit | This Crazy Life (collab with Erica Zane)

Lisa's comments: "I like to extend the use of elements by using blend modes. For example, I used WordArt 01 which was "hello" inside a cloud. By using the blend mode LIGHTEN. The dark cloud disappeared leaving the light colored "hello" behind. I used this technique again on another word art. This time the word art came from This Crazy Life kit, WordArt 02. I used the blend mode LIGHTEN to only leave "awesome things" visible.

I wanted to give some depth to the green background paper. So, I used various green paints from the Aquarelle kit in the blend mode MULTIPLY. To me, this made the paint look like water colors were applied. I also added some white dots...however, these dots were originally black. By running the blend mode DIVIDE, the black dots turned white.

I used DIVIDE once again on the bottom, background papers. I didn't want a plain black background, so I placed a paper with newsprint on top of a black paper. I ran the DIVIDE blend mode on it. The newsprint appeared white on the black background."

By Lisa - Second layout:

Lisa's comments: "Here I used masks and blend modes to create a unique background. I placed paper PP-07 on top of paper PP-05. I ran the blend mode MULTIPLY, then used a mask to "erase" portions of the paper I did not want. Next I placed Abstract filler 2-5 on top of my background. I ran the blend mode DARKER COLOR, then used a mask to "erase" portions of the card I did not want."

By Dalis:

Dalis's comments: "I started by blending the Mixed Media paper from Lake side with the background paper for the Make Your Mark 7.  I knew I wanted to get the watercolor effect from the template into the textured mixed media.  It was easily achieved by using the "Darken" blend mode.  When I saw the fish in this kit I wanted to create a little bit of perspective of some fish closer and some deeper in the water.  To achieve this look I blended some of the fish using "Multiply", "Linear Burn" and "Color Burn" then position other fish without any blend modes."

While this tutorial may seem quite lengthy, I have only touched on the very tip of what layer modes can do and how they can be utilised to create all sorts of effects. I will certainly explore more blending modes options in future tutorials.

For now Rachel and I would love to see any layouts you have created using a blend mode, or two. Upload your layout to the Captivated Visions gallery at Sweet Shoppe Designs and link us up here on the blog if you like. By all means if you have any questions then please ask away in this post and I will be more than happy to help.

Catch you next time,
Ona :)