Layer Blending Options, Part 2

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In the first installment of this series, we looked at how layer blending options work. In this column, we'll look at some of the basic applications of these techniques, ideas that can be great time savers.

Of course, you can use layer blending options to fade one layer into another. In this first example, Dunes.tif (from Photoshop 6's Samples folder) was used as the background. Ducky.tif (also from Photoshop 6) was added. The dunes themselves were selected (using Color Range) and copied to their own layer.

We'll hide the upper dunes layer and use layer blending options to eliminate the white background for Ducky. Because the background is almost exclusively white, we can simply move the right slider labeled This Layer to 254. We can hold down the Option key (Alt for Windows) and split the slider to reduce the anti-aliasing and eliminate shadows. (More on this technique below.)

When we make the upper layer visible again, you'll see that we must put the lower part of the duck behind the foreground of the dunes.

When we make the copied dunes visible again, the lower part of the duck is, indeed, hidden. Unfortunately, so is much that needs to remain visible.

By adjusting the blending options for Layer 2, we can make the highlights invisible, leaving the shadowed foreground intact.

(If we hide the background layer, we'll see that the extreme blending setting hid much more of Layer 2 that necessary, but because that layer was simply a copy of the background dunes, it doesn't matter.)

The same image of a rubber duck riding the waves of sand could have been accomplished by simply using the Lasso to select and delete the area of the ducky that overlapped with the foreground of the dunes. However, using blending options is a non-destructive technique, retaining the original pixels for any later changes or adjustments.

When preparing the ducky image above, we hid the background using layer blending options. In this example, we'll use PhotoSpin's image #0490071. (The Background layer has been converted to a regular layer by Option/Alt-double-clicking the layer in the Layers palette.)

Simply sliding the upper-right slider from 255 to 254 seems to have eliminate the white background.

However, if we add a layer filled with black below, we can see the anti-aliasing left behind.

By the time the sliders have been adjusted enough to eliminate the fringe, some of the image's highlights might also be lost.

Another thing to keep in mind when hiding a background with layer blending options is that the pixels are actually still there, just not visible. This can be important when making a selection. In the following image, the command Image> Canvas Size was used to expand the image without changing the dimensions of the existing layers. The apple layer's thumbnail was Command-clicked [Windows: Control-click] in the Layers palette. Notice that the selection border still includes the white background, although it is not visible.

A third example uses a pair of images from PhotoSpin, #0490057 (skull) and #0490089 (teeth). We'll show how to use layer blending options to get a jump-start on cleaning up parts of an image.

Some work with the Transform commands scales and positions the teeth where they need to be.

Now we'll use layer blending options to eliminate the bulk of the red plastic.

The Eraser tool can now be used to clean up the remaining unwanted pixels.

Previously featured Planet Photoshop articles, including the other Brushes Palette tutorials, are archived under Featured Columns.

Special thanks to for allowing us to reprint their Photoshop tutorials here at Renderosity.

You can e-mail Pete Bauer, the author of this article, at

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By: GaudyAsh on 10/19/03
keep it up people

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