Blending Modes: Normal
By Nikolai Sklobovsky
This mode is the first, default, and, as its name implies, is by far the most commonly used blending mode of all twenty two of them.
Lets see how it works.
First of all, as with all blending modes, you need to have at least two different layers (otherwise there is nothing to blend with).
There are numerous ways to get those. You can start with a blank document, paint something, then add a new layer (a new layer is always created in Normal mode) and paint something else.
Lets create a new blank 800 x 600 document with a white background. Just in case I also stroked its borders with 4 pixel black stroke:
1. Select|All (Ctrl/Cmd + A)
This gives our future document a solid foundation, so now we can start to work on our layers.
Lets create a new layer. You can do it by:
- selecting Layer|New|Layer menu command,
- pressing Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N,
- or, my personal favorite, by clicking the New Layer icon on the bottom of the Layers palette.
The reason I like it the most is the lack of the confirmation dialog. This button simply creates a new transparent layer and lets me go with my own business.
Using Elliptical Marquee tool (M) with the Shift pressed, we can create a circular selection and then use the Paint Bucket tool (G) to fill it with the color of your choice, pure Green in my case.
Even in this extremely simple example we already can see some advantages of our simple Normal blending mode the circle is painted on the second layer, but since the rest of the layer is transparent, we have an image of both the circle and the framed white rectangle on the background.
But wait, there is more.
Lets create one more layer, and now using a Rectangular Marquee (again, with the Shift depressed), populate it with a blue square. Our Layers palette and our picture will look like this one on the left.
Now lets click the Opacity word in the Layers palette and change the value by either typing 50 or tweaking it with the mouse. The picture will change to something like this.
The top-most layer becomes semi-transparent and provides a nice see-through effect .
Opacity slider allows us to change the whole layers transparency level. But what if we want more control over it? Layer Mask to the rescue!
Lets perform the Layer|Layer Mask|Reveal All menu command, or simply click on the Add Layer Mask icon located at the bottom of the layer palette.
Nothings changed, except for the Layers palette structure yet...
Note: there is a separate excellent tutorial on Masking availalble here
Lets change the situation by selecting a large hard black brush and clicking our picture once somewhere around the center. Our Layers palette and our picture will reflect the change.
The black circle of the mask now allows us to see completely through this black hole. The layer as a whole is only 50% opaque, but our mask commands its center part to be totally transparent.
Another great thing about masks is that our original blue square is, in fact, still whole and has no holes in it.
Its easy to see by disabling the mask (by Shift+clicking on the mask icon). The mask icon will get red-crossed and our blue square becomes whole again.
To enable the mask back simply click on its icon again.
Im sure all our "hard-core" Photoshop actions would not cause any wows thus far, but the important thing is to understand what we did and what we have reached: we learned how to create several layers, change their general opacity and even added a layer mask to control the layers opacity on a pixel-by-pixel level.
Now lets get some more fun with the actual photos.
Lets open two different images we would like to blend. It will be better if they both are in the same orientation (either portrait or landscape) and in the same resolution (unlike one being from a cell phone and another from a medium format digital back at 44 mega pixels).
I picked up an image of a local californian tree with the red leaves and a shot of a swimming pool.