Confused - various blend layers digital

  • SVS OG

    Been just getting going on digital art and have been watching tutorials etc but can't seem to find an explanation of the various blend modes anywhere (I am using Sketchbook Pro which has many of the same features as photoshop). I was watching some critique videos and they were talking about fixing various elements by using multiple layers or overlay layers which completely lost me. I guess I don't understand why one would/should use them and when.
    Any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

  • layer modes can effect the layer(s) underneath without needing to add or remove paint to the layer the painting is on. Multiply and overlay are probably the most commonly used. Multiply darkens the values of the layer underneath so for example you can use it to paint in all your shadows but the original painting still shows thru.

  • SVS OG

    @rcartwright Thanks! I had been watching some of that guy's videos but hadn't seen that one. The concept is a little clearer now but I will play around with the software some more to see it in action for my own stuff.

  • Pro SVS OG

    Blend layers and blend modes on brushes are some of the most useful features in Photoshop. The best way to learn how to apply them (and if they fit into your workflow) is to try them out and see what they do. Here re some of the ones I use most:

    • Multiply: darkens the layer below. Both the color of the top layer and that of the bottom layer interact in the „darkening“. It´s great for creating lively and transparent shadows and you can indeed use it to create all shadows in a painting.
    • Color dodge: interacts with the layer below by lightening it and increasing saturation. Great for many light effects (fire, sunlight, candles). Use sparingly (on low transparency) because the effect is very strong; The top layer color interacts with the bottom layer color.
    • Linear dodge (add): similar to color dodge but without the saturation enhancement. Color interaction is less visible;
    • Screen: similar to Linear dodge but more subtle. Works particularly well with cool colors. I use it very often to add the rim lights;
    • Overlay: controls contrast - which means it can increase the lightness of the lights and darken the darks of the layer below depending what’s on it. An overlay layer filled with mid-gray has no effect (and can be used for other cool stuff, but that is another story ;-). The most common use of the overlay layer is to add photo-texture to surfaces;
    • Soft light: Like overlay, but less strong and tends to lighten everything. Also good for photo textures; Can also be used for very subtle rim-lights.
    • Difference or Exclusion (I could never tell what’s the difference between the two...). I use these on the pencil drawings when I paint below them with dark colors. The pencil lines become light on the dark layer below and are more visible.
      These are the ones I use regularly in my painting workflow...never found much joy with the others, though I have used the Hard Light sometimes. At best, play with them for a while and see if they can do anything for you!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli thanks for the added info. will definitely set aside some time to experiment with these!

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