Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blending Tutorial

Blending is another technique for adding creativity to your layout.  There are many ways to blend, and you can blend anything.  I use it most often for blending papers together for unique backgrounds and as a way to place a photo on a layout in a more creative manner.  Here's how.

Blending papers

I have Jeanine's Grunge It series.  These are like partly made papers, ready to be finished.  Here is texture4 from Volume 3.  I could alter the color of it with the hue/saturation sliders.  But I want to make it even more special.

1.  Open a new document and add a solid colored paper.  I'm using a blue paper from Jeanine's Retro kit that will match my son's shirt in the photo I'm planning to scrap.

2.  Drag the textured paper on top of the colored paper.

3.  Making sure the top paper (textured) is highlighted in the layers palette, click on the blending modes drop down box, located at the top of the layers palette.  The word "Normal" is on the button for starters.

When you click open the blend modes list, you will see a long list of words divided into six sections. Each section contains related modes; related because they act on the layers similarly.  You can see there are several darkening modes and several lightening modes.  The other categories add contrast and other artistic effects.

Applying a blend mode affects all the layers below it.  When starting out using blend modes, perhaps the best way to choose is to repeatedly change the blend mode on a layer and observe the effects.  On a PC, after clicking on a blend mode, you can easily scroll through them and change the mode with the up and down arrow keys.  (I have just switched to a Mac and it doesn't seem to be able to scroll through the blend modes this way, sadly, and I have to keep clicking on the drop down box.  If any Mac user out there knows how to scroll through the list easily, please leave a comment to let me know!)

4. Opacity is sometimes an important key to good blending.  After you choose a blending mode, click on the opacity slider, adjacent to the blending modes at the top of the layers palette, and adjust.  You may find  a lower opacity improves the blending.

Keep experimenting!

I finally chose the Luminosity blend mode, at 45% opacity.

5.  Now the paper is ready to use in your layout.  Or you can add more!  You can blend in designs like swirls or word art.  I decided to blend this word art from Jeanine's William kit.  

I dragged the word art to the top layer and positioned it where I want it.  After experimenting with a few modes, I chose Linear Dodge at 100% opacity.

Blending for photos

There are a few ways I frequently use blending modes for photos.

1.  If you have an underexposed or overexposed photo, you can use blending modes to fix them.  Do this by duplicating the photo to a new layer (Control-J) and then applying the blend mode to the top layer.  I think the screen mode works most often.

Here's a photo I took before adjusting the settings on my camera.  I improved the exposure by duplicating the photo to a new layer, applying screen mode, and then copying that blended layer three times.  Each time you copy a layer with a blend mode, it increases the strength of the blend.

2.  Sometimes I like to blend just the edges of a photo into the background.  I do this using the eraser tool and a soft brush.  Holding down the shift key while dragging the brush along the edges of the photo keeps the lines straight.

3. Another artistic way to blend photos, is to use blend modes on photos to merge them into the background.  Do this just the same way as I explained for blending papers above.  If the edge of the photo shows too much, erase it with a soft edge brush and it will blend in better.  

In my layout, I used that fixed underexposed photo I showed above. Extending from top to bottom of my layout,  it's blended in above the textured blended paper, using soft light blend mode at full opacity.   I smoothed out the right edge of the photo with a soft round brush, size 200.

This is just the start.  Here's one last idea before I conclude this tutorial.  I often use blending modes to blend my journaling text into its background.  It can make it look more realistic, like real ink on real paper. In my layout here I used Hard Light on the text layer above the tag.  Have fun experimenting with blending on your next layout!

Click HERE to see the layout much larger.
blue paper, ribbons, tag, and brad from Retro kit
textured paper from Grunge volume 3
word art from William kit