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The Overlay Blending Mode

About Blending Modes in Photoshop and other Graphics Software

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The Overlay Blending Mode
The Overlay Blending Mode

The Overlay Blending Mode

The Overlay blending mode preserves the highlights and shadows of the base color while mixing the base color and the blend color. It is a combination of the Multiply and Screen blending modes--multiplying the dark areas, and screening the light areas. A blend color of 50% gray has no effect on the base image.

Because of the way 50% gray becomes invisible on a overlay blended layer, it can be useful for a number of techniques and special effects.

To create a soft, dreamy effect:;

  1. Duplicate the base layer.
  2. Set the top layer to Overlay blend mode.
  3. Apply Gaussian Blur filter to the Overlay layer and adjust to the desired effect.
To apply high-pass sharpening:
  1. Duplicate the base layer.
  2. Set the top layer to Overlay blend mode.
  3. Go to Filters > Other > High Pass and adjust the radius for the desired amount of sharpening.
To create a movable watermark:
  1. Add some text or a solid shape in a new layer above your image, using black as the fill color.
  2. Go to Filter > Stylize > Emboss and adjust as desired.
  3. Apply Gaussian Blur filter and adjust to 1 or 2 pixels radius.
  4. Set the blend mode to Overlay.
  5. Move layer into position using the move tool.
To create a movable lens flare:
  1. Create a 50% gray solid color fill later above your image.
  2. Do Filter > Render > Lens Flare on this layer. Adjust lens flare effect as desired.
  3. Set the blend mode to Overlay.
  4. Move layer into position using the move tool.
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