The 5 Photoshop Blending Modes You Should Really Know About!

If you’ve been watching or reading any of my past Photoshop tutorials, than you know I’m a big fan of using the blending modes inside of Photoshop.

I’ve also shared and created many lessons for our Digital Creation’s club using various textures and overlays that require the use of these blending modes. The thing I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s usually a handful that I use on a regular basis.

Special Guest Post:

Today, I have a special Guest Post by Patrick Johnson who also owns and writes for his own blog at

He teaches a variety of Photoshop lessons from Photo Manipulation to Photo Retouching and agreed to write this post today.

If you’ve been an NPB Subscriber for a while you know I very rarely ever have anyone guest post, but if I believe the content is good and we can learn from it…why not?

So, with that being said…I would like to welcome Patrick Johnson.


First, I want to say thanks to Scott for allowing me write on his blog and serve you…his loyal NPB Community.

Today, we will be covering the 5 Blending modes inside Photoshop that everyone needs to know about and how to use them.

Photoshop’s blending modes are extremely powerful tools you can use to improve your photos or create the artwork you want. Clearly understanding what each of them can do for you is essential.

That’s why I suggest for you to often try and test them. Make a habit to try out each of the Blending modes until you settle on one you like. While testing out blending modes, try also to lower the Opacity of the layer as this will often have a significant effect on your results.

In this article, I will cover the 5 blending modes I use the most and will explain through small written photoshop tutorials how you can improve your image using them.

All The Blending Modes:

Photoshop Blending Modes

But here are the ones I mostly use:


I will often use the blending mode Multiply to add a more interesting sky to an image. This is the best mode to darken any blown highlights.

When we take a photo during the day, the sky will often be white with barely any details. A quick way to fix that is to  cut out from another photo a sky we like and put it over the photo we want to improve.

Change the Layer Blending Mode Multiply¬† and then just adjust the position of the sky the way you want and all you’ll need to do next is either use the eraser or add a layer mask and erase with a SOFT black paint brush any parts of the new sky that overlap on something that is not the sky.

For example, in the image below, I erased parts of the new sky that overlapped on the trees and the head of the horse.

Original Image:

Horse Sample Image

Here’s a picture of the sky that I will use for the blending technique.

Sky Overlay Sample

Here’s The Final Result:

Horse With Blue Sky


I will often use the Screen Blending to separate (and keep) a light element from the darker background.

In the example below, I will be adding out of focus lights on the image by removing completely the darker background of my second image using the Screen Blending mode.

Original Image:
Screen Blending Mode

Lights To Add To Image:

Screen Overlay

Final Image With Lights Added:

Screen Photoshop Technique


One great way to use the Overlay blending mode is with textures.

Here below I will use a texture to not only add a grungy look to my image but also to improve the contrast and add an interesting vignette effect all around the image.

Original Image:
wall sample image

Texture To Add:

Photoshop Texture

Final Image:

Photoshop Texture Example


Add contrast to your images using the Soft Light blending mode. To do so, just duplicate your image (Duplicate Layer) and change the blending mode to Soft Light.

Bonus Tip: For stronger contrasts, try Overlay.

Original Image:

wall sample image

Soft Light:

Softlight Layer Mode


Photoshop Overlay Effect


I will especially use the blending mode Luminosity when I want to change the luminosity of individual colors.

The best way to do this is to first add a Black & White Adjustment layer to your image. Then change the Blending mode of that adjustment layer to Luminosity.

Then just play with the B& W settings until you get the look you want.

Original Image:

wall sample image

B&W Settings:

Black White Photoshop Settings

Final Image:


I hope those little Photoshop tutorials on how to improve your images using blending modes were helpful to you and remember, keep practicing and keep testing things out!


Well, there you have it. Now you’ve seen 5 different techniques you can use and apply to your portraits. Most people don’t use the blending modes as much as they should and are missing out on some really cool effects that don’t take much time to complete.

Patrick also has a very detailed Photoshop Editing Course that teaches many different techniques and workflows.

If you’re interested…Check It Out HERE! (My Affiliate Link)

Premium Photoshop Lessons

Disclaimer: If you do buy his course through this page I will earn a small commission. I only recommend products that I’ve either tried or believe in and this is one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to send me and email or to Patrick through his website.

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