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[Tutorial] The Power of Blending Options

Discussion in 'Photoshop' started by WLShafor, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. WLShafor
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    WLShafor Guest

    [​IMG]

    Both of these icons consists of the same 3 layers *gasp*

    The above picture shows the same 3 layers, that makes up the icon with and without layer styling. If anything, this shows how much can be obtained with simple blending options. Let's go through the steps, that gave this seemingly flat icon a life of its own.

    Gradients


    Let's start with something I´m sure most people are familiar with; Gradients. A Gradient is, as you might know, a colourfill that blends through a selection of colours. Gradients are the salt and pepper of the average photoshop user. A Gradient can add life to even the most boring element, and with the right combination of colours it can help you control object lighting.

    [​IMG]

    You gotta love Gradients!

    Gradients are fun and easy to apply, and I´m sure most people have fooled around with them, so i won't spend more time dwelling on this particular Blending Option.

    Textures

    Not everything should be shiny reflections and smooth surfaces, textures can add realism to an icon. Blending Options can help create a simple gritty texture, that will contrast the abundance of shiny surfaces in the web 2.0 world.

    [​IMG]

    Inner glow used for that noisy texture

    In this instance I've used Inner Glow with a high noise level and a centered source. Remember to set the blending mode correctly - if the noisy color is lighter than the background, it's gritting up, make sure that drop down is set to 'screen' - if it's the other way around, use 'multiply'. There's hundreds of ways to add different textures to your surfaces, This is an extremely simple texture - what appeals to me with this solution is that you avoid using filters, which will often render your layers rasterized, in which case you lose scalabillity.

    Using Inner glow to create a gritty texture might seem odd. Trust me, this will be a reaccuring theme, when you work with Blending Options. Don't be fooled by the labels Adobe has given the individual options, find out what´s possible with said functionality, press it to the limit and learn, how the options can work together. Before you know it, you'll be doing highlights with 'Drop Shadow' and shadows with 'Satin'.

    Shadows

    As with many other things, there are alot of ways to do shadows. Shading your objects correctly helps add depth and perspective while mimicking a source of light.

    [​IMG]

    Adding an angled shadow using 'Inner Shadow'

    In this case. I've used 'Inner Shadow' with the 'Color Burn' blending mode at a middle opacity. Color Burn looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast. Play around with the Angle, Distance, Choke and Size until you got something interesting. The image above has also got a subtle 'Drop Shadow'. A common mistake is to overdo the Drop Shadow- turn it down guys, nothing casts that dark generic drop shadow.

    Lighting

    At this point our icon is looking alittle dark. Now we could just go in and brighten up the gradients, but another neat trick is to add some 'Satin' with curvey Contours and a lovely low opacity Color Dodge blending mode.

    [​IMG]

    Satin with white Color Dodging creates interesting lighting

    It's a personal preference of mine to use Color Dodge for highlights - it adds some really interesting lighting if used the right way. Color Dodge looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the contrast.

    Highlighting

    Let's try and take that Color Dodging highlighting to a more detailed level.

    [​IMG]

    Highlighting with a Color Dodging Bevel

    Believe it or not, but Bevel & Emboss is actually useful beyond doing funky looking bubbly text. Here I've used Color Dodging angled with an Altitude of around 70 to create a sleek highlight slightly displaced from the edge of the layer to add a sense of thickness to the object. The thinner the higlighted line, the sharper the curve will seem.
     
  2. navylife59
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    navylife59 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Emory, Texas or Gretna, LA
    That is awesome, but what software is this? I have done nothing more than use photoshop type programs altering pictures, never graphics.
     
  3. WLShafor
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    WLShafor Guest

    This thread was posted in the "Photoshop" section of this forum. All the post that I make in the "Photoshop" section of this website will be based on Adobe Photoshop SC3, SC4, CS5 & so on. All the info will work on any Photoshop release from CS3 till the newest one. I hope this was the answer you where seeking. Good luck with using Adobe Photoshop it is a fun & powerful tool.
     
  4. navylife59
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    navylife59 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Emory, Texas or Gretna, LA
    Photoshop can be daunting to use for someone who only dabbles with it. I had Photodraw which used to be an add-on to Microsuck Office 2000 suite. Not as powerful as the Photoshop at the time, I found it adequate and easier to use for restoring old photos. Been looking to jump back into advanced photo editing but not interested in graphics creation.
     
  5. WLShafor
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    WLShafor Guest

    Adobe Photoshop is the best tool to use for photo editing. I can write up a few tutorials when I get some free time for you.
     

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