The Retreat Files: Blending Backgrounds

Layer Blending Modes

1. Open or create two separate layers to be directly on top of one another that you want to ‘mix’ together. This could be:
Papers on Papers/Elements
Elements on Papers/Elements
Photos on Papers/Elements
Adjustment Layers, like Solid Color, Gradient, or Pattern on Papers/Elements

2. Select the top layer of the two to be mixed and from the Layer Blending Mode drop-down list select an option, such as Multiply, Screen, or Overlay.
TIP: After making the first Layer Blend Mode selection, use your keyboard arrow keys to move up and down through the list to experiment or play with the various options.

OPTIONAL: Change the Layer Opacity setting on the top layer to make the blending mode not as prominent.

Changing Color (Method 1)

1. Open the image you want change colors.

2. In CS versions select the Image menu, Adjustments, and Variations. In Elements versions select the Enhance menu, Adjust Color, Color Variations.

3. Using the options provided:
Select the Area to be affected (Shadows, Midtones, Highlights, Saturation)
Adjust the Intensity slider

4. Click on OK to accept changes or click on Cancel to reject changes.

Changing Color (Method 2)

1. Open the image you want change colors.

2. Select or sample the foreground color you want to use for the new color.

3. Select the New Adjustment Layer button from the palette options bar, and choose Hue/Saturation.

4. In the Adjustments window choose the Colorize checkbox. Then proceed to adjust the saturation and lightness as desired.

5. Click on OK to accept changes or click on Cancel to reject changes.

TIP: Changing the Hue will alter the base color you previously chose.
TIP: Play with various Layer Blend modes to try and get a more natural look to the color change.

OPTIONAL: Better results can often be achieved by first converting the base image/layer to black and white (BW) and then adding the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. To do this, select the layer to be converted to BW and then:
(CS versions) Select the Image menu, Adjustments, Desaturate.
(Elements versions) Select the Enhance menu, Adjust Color, Remove Color.

Controlling Changes

Isolating by Selecting First
An excellent way to help control what and where colors are affected in the previous techniques is using selection tools to first create a selection around the area or of the colors you want to affect.
The Magic Wand and/or Quick Selection Brush are two beneficial tools in quickly and efficiently getting only certain areas highlighted or isolate where changes will occur.
Jumping to a Separate Layer
After selecting what or where you want things to be affected, an additional step to further control and add flexibility to your changes is to jump those pixels or area to its own layer.
With a selection made, press Ctrl/Cmd + J to Copy the pixels/area to a new layer above the current.
With a selection made, press Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + J to Move/Cut the pixels/area to a new layer above the current.
These new layers can then have their Layer Blend Mode adjusted, have an Adjustment Layer clipped to just its specific pixel information, or change the Layer Opacity.

Class taught by Bryan McEwan

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