tutorials > Blending Multiple Images using the Lighten Blend Mode
This tutorial is intended to illustrate some of the way in which blend images. As you may have noticed, many of my fanarts incorporate lots of images. I know this doesn’t appeal to everyone but I quite like it myself. It’s also fun to sort of squeeze a lot in without making ii appear overcrowded.
It is also prudent to note that this tutorial supposes that you have some general knowledge of Photoshop. I will not explaining what certain tools are or anything like that.
In this tutorial I will attempt to demonstrate a few ways I like to arrange images, emphasizing blend modes–particularly Lighten–and image selection. I have chosen some screencaps from The X-Files: I Want to Believe. You can see the images I am using below:
I choose images based on certain elements. I like ones that have some architectural value to them, with lines or a flood of light cascading in. I also like when faces are arched in interesting ways. Often times, the lights and lines of these images make a wonderful flow of their own with little outside guidance from me, so long as I position them in a cool way.
I begin as I would with any fanart by opening a new document. I prefer to work in 1400×875. I realize it is an odd sized canvas but that’s just the size I choose to use! I make a new fill layer with black. I choose black because it makes the blending easier for me when working with images that are predominantly dark.
I choose two caps to start. And I place them on the canvas and apply layer masks, erasing away parts of them. I want to pause and say that erasing can be very subtle. I rarely erase with the Flow or Opacity set at 100%. In fact, I like to have the Flow (or Opacity should work just as well if you are using an older version of Photohsop) set somewhere between 18-30%. This way is erases part but not all of the images and it allows for the image to fade more naturally rather than just ending abruptly. The only trick to make sure that you keep softly erasing away the harder edges of the caps. Also, it is good to find a brush set that is meant for masking. I use my “Clouds” set sometimes (and you can download that in the media section of my site) but I also enjoy using the masking set from appendixsquared.com.
Okay, so I have two images down. The second one I place as the top layer and set it to Lighten. Here’s what I have now:
Now, another trick I have. That second cap has a lot of light on it and it a bit to bright. So I am going to pull up Image >> Adjustments >> Brightness/Contrast and tweak the settings.
Not to bore with you each tiny thing, let me just say that I repeat these steps a few more times with new images. Each new image I lay down I set to Lighten. As for where I position them, well, I just sort of move them around until I get them somewhere that works for me. Again, the images sort of find their own place, I find. It’s amazing how much you can get out of this blend mode. (But Lighten works better on dark backdrops. If you want to make a very light and bright art, then Lighten won’t work in quite the same way as it will here.) So here’s where I am at a few images later:
On some of the images I applied a little color balance. Some were more yellow or blue than others so I wanted to even out the tones. You can experiment with color balance and see how this works. It’s a great tool (and comes in especially handy when you are doing head swap manipulations and need to match skin tones.)
So that’s it. This is the beginning of something. Now it’s ready for effects and/or stocks/textures and text and gradient maps and all that good stuff. I hope this was somewhat helpful to you!