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Lesson 7. Using Blend Modes > Blending Objects

Blending Objects

You may have noticed at the end of Lesson 3 that the objects in our composite were positioned and moving nicely, but they contrasted dramatically with the background. Now we'll apply different blend modes to integrate them more naturally.

Press Cmd-Option-W to close any open projects.

Navigate to the folder APTS_Motion > Lessons > Lesson07 and open the project A.BlendModes.


To optimize real-time performance, the CosmordialSoup background layer was re-rendered to include the 115% scaling we performed in Lesson 3. If you're continuing to work with your own version of the project carried through from that lesson, that's fine—the result will be the same.

Select the BigWheel object either by clicking it in the Canvas or selecting it in the Layers tab (press F5 to reveal the Layers tab if it isn't visible).


Sometimes it's hard to select objects in the Canvas because they overlap with other layers. Use the up and down arrow keys to cycle through the layers if you can't select them. If you look at the Layers tab as you do this, you'll see the objects highlighted there as well.

Make sure the Dashboard is active (press F7 if it isn't).

Notice the two main controls in the Canvas: Opacity and Blend Mode. These are the most important controls for each layer.

In the Blend Mode pop-up menu choose Overlay, and resume playback.

Overlay is a great blend mode to use for stenciling grayscale images over a background. Bright pixels in the image are screened over the background, creating accentuated highlights, while dark pixels are multiplied against the background, causing more subdued tones. Overlay mode works best with objects that have a range of pixel brightness; areas with gradients are ideal.

Another mode with a look similar to Overlay, but with slightly less contrast, is Soft Light.

Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Using Soft Light, BigWheel stands out too prominently. Let's dial it back a little.

Set the Opacity of the layer to 25%. BigWheel now sits nicely in the background.

Next, let's get to work on the boxes.

In the Layers tab (F5), click the Boxes object to select it.

In the Dashboard, choose Blend Mode > Overlay.

Overlay works nicely with the Boxes object, creating some strong contrast variation based on how the branches of the CosmordialSoup object overlap different sections of boxes over time.

Select the Murder.Betrayal.Fortunes. object.

Choose Blend Mode > Color Dodge.

And…absolutely nothing seems to change. That's because this particular blend mode, Color Dodge, has no effect when it's applied to a pure white object. We need to modify the color of the text to see an effect.

Press F4 to open the Text tab of the Inspector.

Notice that the Text tab of the Inspector has three panes: Format, Style, and Layout. We'll go into detail about text in Lesson 13, but for now we simply want to change the color of the text, and that's done in the Style pane.

Click the Style button to access the Style options.

Right- or Ctrl-click the Color swatch in the Face parameters.

Up until now, to choose a color, you've double-clicked to bring up the Mac OS X Colors window. Right- or Ctrl-clicking a color swatch is another great way to quickly choose a color. A whole host of color choices is available just by dragging the eyedropper around in this contextual pop-up color window. The HSV color wheel we've been using in the standard Colors window still tends to be a more intuitive way to choose a specific range of colors, but if you're looking for a quick way to choose an arbitrary color, right- or Ctrl-clicking is a great time-saver.

Move the eyedropper around inside the color palette and watch the results in the Canvas.

As you move the eyedropper, you'll see that the Color Dodge blend mode now has a much more dramatic effect.

Choose a color that complements the background. If you like, use RGB values close to 125, 0, 162, and then click the red Close button to close the window.


The RGB color values in the contextual color palette are in the 0–255 range. When you close the window, these values convert to Motion's 0–1 range. In this instance, that's 0.49, 0, 0.64. You can click the disclosure triangle next to the Color parameter to see these.

Now the Color Dodge causes the text to interact nicely with the background.



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