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Lesson 5. Advanced Compositing > Using layer modes to blend

Using layer modes to blend

Working with layers in Photoshop is one of the most effective and versatile ways to create composite images. Each layer can be edited as discrete artwork, allowing unlimited flexibility. Using layer modes, you can create blends from one layer to another, or adjust the tonality of an image. You will use layer modes to create a high-contrast version of the image.

1.
In the Layers palette, copy the Background by dragging it to the New Layer button at the bottom of the palette.

2.
Change the layer mode to Color Dodge, to get a very high-contrast version of the original image. You can experiment with some of the other modes to see their effects.

Creating high contrast

Color Dodge mode

3.
Merge the layers down (press Ctrl/Command+E, or choose Merge Down from the Layers palette menu).

You will use the new version of the photograph as the basis for your illustration. For the greatest flexibility in compositing, you will extract the image from its background.

The Hair.psd file includes a premade selection of the woman and her hair.

4.
Load the selection by choosing Select > Load Selection. In the Load Selection dialog box, for Document choose Hair.psd; for Channel choose Alpha 1. Click OK.

You need another copy of this extracted image for the most flexibility in blending the images or choosing other background colors for the entire composite.

5.
Place a copy of the selected area on its own layer by choosing Layer > New > Layer Via Copy (or press Ctrl/Command+J).

6.
In the Layers palette, delete the background by dragging it to the Trash button.

7.
Now, duplicate Layer 1 by Alt/Option-dragging it to the New Layer button at the bottom of the palette. Rename the layer Hair 2.

8.
Choose Layer Properties from the Layers palette menu, and rename Layer 1 as Hair 1.

9.
Save the file.


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