Dissolve ModeBy Nikolai Sklobovsky This mode follows the Normal mode in the list of layer blending modes. However, while being close to Normal mode in the list, its pretty far from it functionality-wise. The biggest difference, at least how I understand it, is that, unlike Normal mode, which is used ubiquitously to blend photographs, Dissolve mode is mostly used to blend non-photo objects (i.e. shapes, text, etc.), as well as to create special effects that require some randomness. Lets see how it works.
Let us follow the same simple path we did with the normal mode. Create a new medium sized document with a white background, stroke its border with 4 pixel back edge, add a new layer, select a Elliptical Marquee tool (M), make circular selection (press Shift for that) and fill the selection with pure Black. There are different ways to do that, one of the simplest being to use Paint Bucket tool (G).
By default, all the new layers are created in Normal mode. Lets change the mode to Dissolve.
Hold your breath and nothing happens :-(!
Bummer! What did we do wrong? You can be so frustrated that you may wanna press F1 for help. Do that, and youll be rewarded with the following paragraph:
Dissolve Edits or paints each pixel to make it the result color. However, the result color is a random replacement of the pixels with the base color or the blend color, depending on the opacity at any pixel location.
A-ha! Opacity! We need to change the opacity to see the effect. Lets set its value to 50% - and notice the change!
You can play with different values to see that this mode in fact provides us with a very good random pixel generator. Heres how it looks at 5% opacity.
OK, this is all nice, but how can we use this interesting random-generating Dissolve mode in a real life?
As I mentioned before, using this mode for blending two photographs rarely produces valuable results. However, with shapes and texts its a different story.
Dissolving TextLets start with some random picture that can play a role of a smooth background. I have chosen this nothing-out-of-the ordinary sunset shot of mine with some funny wavy clouds. I also put two layers of text above it. As you can see, even though I set the blending mode for text layers to Dissolve, at 100% opacity we only got a bit of fuzziness, nothing more. Lets change it.
I intentionally created two different layers with text to see how Fill and Opacity sliders would work in this case.
As with Normal mode, with the absence of the Styles both Fill and Opacity produce identical effect. The white text now clearly reminds chalk writing, while the black one Well, you can find your own analogy :-)
Lets add shadow to both lines and play with the sliders a little.
I added Drop Shadow style to both layers (Angle 45, Distance 15, Spread 10, Size 15). Well, in fact I added it only to one layer and then Alt/Option + dragged the effect icon to another layer to copy it.
Then I set 100% Opacity and 30% Fill on Thousand Oaks and 50% Opacity and 100% Fill on Sunset Hills.
You can see the difference in the results.
As before, Fill didnt touch the shadow at all, while Opacity gladly did, dissolving the shadow along with the text.
Brushed MetalAs it was mentioned before, Dissolve mode can serve as a source of some random data. Lets see how we can use it to create a classic brushed metal effect. Lets start with an edged white rectangle, create a new empty layer, but instead of creating black circle with a rectangular marquee, lets simply pick a large soft black brush and click it once. The set the mode to Dissolve and the Opacity to 50%. Well get something like this.
Now we need to do something tricky: we need to solidify the effect.
To achieve this, well perform the following steps:
1. Highlight Background, press Ctrl/Cmd+J (it creates a copy of the layer)
2. Highlight Layer 1, copy the circle layer by pressing the Ctrl/Cmd + J.
3. Highlight Layer 1 again.
4. Press Ctrl/Cmd + E to merge two copies together. Note that the merged layer is in a Normal mode.
5. Hide the copy of layer 1 by clicking its eye icon once. We wont need it anymore, but its a good practice to keep the layers we used handy.
Now more fun part: Filter, Blur, Motion Blur.
Set Angle to 45 and Distance to 600.
Youll get something like following.
As it is easy to see, we already getting something that reminds a brushed metal, we only need to apply it to some shape. And what shape can be better than text?
So, we do the following:
1. Type the words Brushed Metal
2. Space the second word using Ctrl/Cmd + Arrows
3. Move the text layer under our blurred one.
4. Highlight the blurred layer.
5. Perform Layer | Create Clipping Mask menu command (or press Ctrl+Alt+G or Cmd+Option+G)
6. Create a new layer just below the text and paint it black
7. Finally, add some Bevel and Emboss effect to the text (I used hard chisel one)
Not bad for a few keystrokes!
That Sin City LookIts always dark in Sin City, and its always raining. How can we get this effect? Dissolve Mode to the rescue! Lets again start with any random picture and using whatever PS tools necessary give it a Sin City-adequate look. For the record, I must assure you that the person shown in this picture is, in fact, a vegetarian, and the food on the plate is made of flour and not even red in color its yellow, however :-)) Having the base ready, we want to add night and, most of all, rain.
To make rain, lets perform Filter|Blur|Motion Blur menu command, with the Angle of 60 and Distance of 33. We can see its there, but its barely visible. No fear! Our last step is to change its mode from Normal to Vivid Light, add some crooked text and you better take the kids away: your Sin City Sushi ad is ready!
ConclusionDissolve mode, while rarely usable all by itself, can serve as a great sidekick in generating randomness. It also works great with shapes and text.