Blending Modes: NormalBy 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.
- 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.
MaskingOpacity 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.
The sky meets the groundYou dont always have to go through the channel copying. A lot of times the mask can be constructed in a much easier way. Lets consider a classic trick that can often replace a need for an HDR image Heres one of the typical original unedited raw shots where the sky and the ground provide two incompatible targets. The image looks totally flat and uninteresting. The two parts of the image require two different exposures and two totally different post processing methods for each to look nice, yet both are the parts of the same image. What do we do? Well, if you shoot JPEG, you better take two different shots, targeted carefully for each part of the future image and pray to Aperturia, the Muse of Photography that your settings were dialed in correctly. However, if you, like me, are shooting RAW its a childs play.
FillIf you take a closer look at the top of Layers palette, you will notice that right under the Opacity slider there is another one named Fill. Not only they do look similar, at first glance they also seem to work similar. In fact, you can redo all the above examples from this article using the Fill slider instead of Opacity and the results will be absolutely the same. So, whats the difference? The difference lies in a somewhat advanced issue called Layer Blending Styles. The topic itself is extremely large and cannot be covered in terms of this little tutorial. In fact were going to cover it later, style by style, once were done with the Blending modes. But as of now lets use one simple effect that would let us see the difference between the Fill and the Opacity.
Bottom LineNormal blending mode allows you to stack several layers on top of each other in a most intuitively understandable way, like the sheets of paper.
You can, however, modify this behavior by adjusting the Opacity of the layer, gain a greater control over the transparent areas by adding the Layer Mask, and if youre hardcore enough to work with the Layer styles, you can split the transparency control between the Opacity and the Fill sliders, the former affecting everything and the latter leaving the styles, or effects, unchanged.
You can discuss this tutorial or ask questions on Digital Grin.