New user? Subscribe!  ·  Already a subscriber? .

The 3 Most Useful Blend Modes, Part 1

By Matt Kloskowski  ·  February 20th, 2012

In Part 1 of a 3-part series, Matt takes you through how to use one of the most important blend modes: Multiply.


If you're a current subscriber, please again to continue.

(Sorry for the hassle!)

27 Replies to The 3 Most Useful Blend Modes, Part 1:

  1. Gordon

    February 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I love the videos but I wished you would tell me how to change my layers color to yellow instead of black.

    • Rick

      February 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

      That’s only an option on the Mac, Gordon, and is a system setting, not an Elements one. (If you’re on a Mac, it’s in the System Preferences > Appearance setting, under highlight color).

      • Julie

        February 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        Hey, that’s nifty. I never knew you could do that. ;-)

      • Greg

        March 7, 2012 at 3:47 am

        This is a pearl of advice. I have a clas full of folks who will love you for this. They are forever complaining about the difficult to see black highlight

  2. Dennis

    February 21, 2012 at 6:51 am


    Enjoyed the video. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Peggy

    February 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I really enjoy your videos. Thanks so much. Looking forward to the next two!

  4. Lee

    February 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you Matt and Rick for your fine work. Question: is there a SIMPLE resource for learning about all the blending modes and their uses? I truly appreciate instructions in how to use a mode here and there. However, I’d really like to understand the “how’s” and “why’s” behind the modes. That is, when will or will not they work and what are they designed to accomplish? Thanks again.

    • Mike

      February 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Lee, not sure if this will be completely what you’re after, but way back in 2008, we did a 2-part feature on the blend modes. Part 1 can be found in V5N1 (has a bison on the cover) and Part 2 is in V5N2 (with beautiful green butterfly on the cover).

      Those might help a little in getting you started down the path.

      • Lee

        February 23, 2012 at 3:21 am

        Thanks so much for the heads-up. These articles are PRECISELY what I want. In fact, I like them so much that I’m going to create my own reference chart of the blending modes bases upon what you wrote. Thanks again.

    • Rick

      February 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm


      If you click on the “blend modes” link in the Related Tags list above, you’ll find a whole bunch o f stuff on blend modes, including Mike’s series referenced above.


  5. Alfred

    February 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Dear Rick and Matt, thanks you for yet another great explanation of some of the mysteries of Elements, and in this case it helped me understand other snippets of knowledge picked up along the way that align with the video. I look forward to seeing the others when they become available. thanks a lot “Ben”

  6. RALPH

    February 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    It would really be helpful if you would tell which version of Elements you are using to make the video.

    • Rick

      February 24, 2012 at 10:54 am


      Most of the recent videos are done with Elements 9 or 10. We try to make a note when there’s a version-specific requirement.


  7. Joyce

    February 25, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Please help. I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong. Everything worked until I tried painting the balck on to conceal the B & W on my photo. the color is VERY faintly coming thru. I do have the black on top and have the correct part of the layer selected. Opacity is at 100% Thanks so much

  8. Bruce

    February 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    This video is a great starting point. I have the Elements Help open now and their explanation of blend modes is starting to make a little bit of sense after watching this. With a little experimentation I think I will be able to understand what blend modes do. I can hardly wait for the other two in the series.

  9. Maikel

    February 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    It is very helpfull

  10. Don

    March 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks Matt for the practical advice! I’m a PSE beginner, and was overwhelmed yesterday looking at all the blend modes available & wondering where to start. Your advice is very timely!

  11. Greg

    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Love it Matt and thanks for the bonus Rick. I too never figured out how to change the highlight . Have to say you guys really impress me. I can’t wait to view all of your new offerings. I have even put several of my students onto you site. So keep on producing folks.

  12. Arco

    March 18, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Since the last year when I bought Elements 10, I still not able to have the answer I need:
    I have my own template, I want to cut the picture of a person and transfer that picture to my new template, of course the background of the first picture I do not need it, just only the person’s picture. I have been paying for new books about elements and buying other videos and still not have the answer.
    This is where I need help.
    Open to received any positive answer.

  13. Kathy

    May 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    When using the brush tool in the layer mask to “undo” the multiplying effect in certain areas of the photo, what type of brush is Matt using, and does it matter? I have version 9 and have not been able to identify the brush symbol used in this tutorial with any in my brush selections.

    Thank You.

  14. Sally

    May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

    thank you. learned something new from your tutorial regarding an easy way to get rid of white with multiply.

  15. Karen

    June 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I am unable to view the movie. It just wont open.

  16. Kandy

    June 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I just discovered this video yesterday– love it! My question about it is how to reduce the opacity of the mask effect. That is, when I use the black to color in the mask it is 100% so when I reduced the opacity, it reduced it over the entire photo not just the area I was “painting” in. See what I mean? Thanks for any advice!

  17. julie

    January 21, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Thank you for this informative video. I’ve tried now over and over on an image, line drawing in black and white to disappear the white, but it is not happening. The black gets darker but the white remains unchanged. Am trying to get the same thing you did for your logo. Any ideas of what might be going wrong?

  18. Daniel

    May 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Hmm. Like the video. But my PSE 11 on Windows looks different and has a different menu interface than on this video. It looks like some of the things are called by different names. There is no edit /create / share menu. It would be helpful to mention the PSE 11 steps in the audio portion, even if you don’t want to change the video part.

    And I can’t get the brush tool to do anything on the background copy– that is the brush doesn’t do any lightening of the image, even though the color, opacity, etcetera are set up the way you describe. I’m assuming this is because I’m new to PSE and have to hunt through all the menu options and guess where the correct one might be, because it isn’t where you point to on the video…

  19. Robert

    November 13, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Excellent videos,very informative

  20. Judy

    January 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I love all 3 of these tutorials. So very good at explaining things.

Tell us what you think.

You must be to post a comment.

Photo One Media

Photoshop Elements Techniques is published by Photo One Media, Inc. Copyright @2016

Follow us!

Follow us on Twitter Find us on Facebook