In some ways, Photoshop’s blend if or advanced blending feature is a secret weapon. It has always been a part of Photoshop and is really simple to use. (Well, at least while layer styles are available.) You will learn how blend functions in this Photoshop tutorial, as well as how to utilise it on the top layer, the bottom layer, and both together. This tutorial is a brief extract from my brand-new Photoshop Layers course.

We’ll start with a two-layered document. On the second layer, there are some birds and a woman. Both of these images are flat; no editing has been done to them.

You could use selection tools, but instead, let’s do it this way.

Choose new Layer style and click blending options at the top.

The layer style box will be visible, with Blend if in the bottom centre.

Two layers are present:

This Layer: By adjusting the sliders, you can partially conceal the top layer.

Moving these sliders will allow sections of the backdrop to show through above the top layer of the underlying layer.

Let’s take this layer (most commonly used)

If you drag the white triangle to the left, it will hid the light tones on the top.

If you move the black slider to the right, it will hide the dark tones on top.

Cut off the birds, please.

Drag the white triangle to the left from the right until the backdrop is no longer visible.

Look how the background vanished with only one swift slide!

Improve the edge transition now.

When you drag one side of the triangle while holding down Alt or Option, it divides and transitions more smoothly.

Currently, the birds are circling in front of the woman.

What if I still want to conceal the birds’ background while allowing them to fly behind the woman? Unattainable without switching the layering? Nope.

Take the black slider from the layer underneath and move it to the right this time. Observe how the woman’s dark features are now above the birds. (Remember the underlaying layer punches through to the top).

Split the triangle while holding down the alt or option key for a far better outcome.

Although the woman is now visible, the background of the birds is still discernible.

Combining the sliders is the secret.

Like we did at the start, move the white slider on “this layer” (the top one) to the left to conceal the backdrop of the birds. We can combine the use of the two sliders. Many people have told me they’ve never seen the two sliders used together, but as you can see, it really works.

And it’s clear that the outcome is considerably better.

I hope you found this little tutorial useful.

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