This is what we will create
The opacity or transparency of a layer is usually considered as a uniform indicator – a layer can be completely opaque, fully transparent, or translucent. But did you know that you can control the transparency of individual parts of a layer without manually selecting them? This may not seem very useful at first glance, but just think about blending photo texture! Interested?
What is blending blend if (overlay if)?
In order to present this, we need to mix two elements: the top layer and the bottom layer (s). Let’s say we have this purple ball (bottom layer):
And we want it to blend with this gradient (top layer):
Double-clicking the top layer opens a window with various options.
It is usually used to set layer styles and Blending options (Overlay Parameters), the default view is usually ignored. But if you look at the section Blend if (Overlap, if), you will see two scales and on each are two black and two white markers (slider). Once you learn how to use them, they will work wonders for you!
Each scale has two markers: black (left) and white (right). Everything to the left of the black markers is transparent; Also, everything is transparent to the right of the white markers.
- The hues in this part are transparent because they are to the left of the black marker.
- The hues in this part are opaque because they are neither to the left of the black marker nor to the right of the white marker (between black and white).
- The hues in this part are transparent because they are to the right of the white marker.
As long as the markers remain at their ends of the scale, they do not create any effect. We have to move them to make it work. Let’s see how this works!
This Layer Scale (This Layer)
Consider the first scale labeled ThisLayer (This layer). Move the mouse over the black marker, click the left button and drag it to the right. Now let’s see what happens to the shades on the left side.
When we expand the area to the left of the black markers, the dark shades of this layer become transparent. When we drag a white marker, light shades become transparent.
Since we can move both markers separately, swapping, a confusing situation can arise:
- A white marker indicates that this area is opaque.
- A white marker indicates that this area is transparent.
- A black marker indicates that this area is transparent.
- A black marker indicates that this area is opaque.
As a result of the change of markers, the places of change and the sides of their transparency are changed. This may seem complicated at first glance, but you have to remember only one rule: when the markers change places, they work just the opposite.
Split marker (slider)
I have already said that each scale has two markers, but this is not quite so. Each of the markers can be divided into two parts. Just drag the marker while holding the key. Alt. Thus, we can make the change in opacity gradual and not so obvious.
Underlying Layer Scale (Subject Layer)
The bottom scale works a little differently. It takes into account the shades of the layer that is below (The light on the purple ball falls at an angle of 45 °, so the transparency changes at the same angle). When we expand the area to the left of the black markers, the shades of this layer that are above the dark shades of the lower layer become transparent. When we drag a white marker, the shades become transparent over the light shades of the bottom layer.
The general rule does not change, but this time it sounds like this:
- The area of the layer located above the shades to the left of the black markers is transparent.
- The area of the layer located above the shades to the right of the white markers is transparent.
We can also split any marker to make changes gradual.
Change the opacity of the texture
I presented this mechanism on shades of gray gradient, but it is not necessary. Sliders Overlays, if they are a great tool for changing textures on an object. Take a look:
(To get the same effect, the textured ball must be separated from the background.).
Can be used simultaneously BlendMode (Blending modes), they perceive the “new opacity” as something natural!
Blend IF (Overlay, if) in practice
But what can we do about it? Many interesting things! Suppose we want to finish this dragon foot. It is almost ready, painted and shaded, but it looks a bit dull. What can we do to make the leg look better without destroying what we have achieved so far?
If we want all the shadows to become fashionable bluish tint, we can create a new layer, create a clipping mask (Ctrl-Alt-G), and fill (Shift–Ffive) its blue. (To do this, the foot must be separated from the background.).
If we change BlendMode (Blend Mode) on Color (Chroma), he will color the leg. But we want to color only dark areas!
Let’s go to Blending options (Overlay options) and drag the white marker of the layer to be left to the left. Those parts of the blue layer that fall on lighter areas will become transparent.
Let’s divide the marker by holding Alt, to make the borders of the shadow less obvious.
We can do the same with the light! Create another layer and fill it with the color of the main light source.
Change BlendMode (Blend Mode) on Soft light (Soft light) and reduce Opacity (Opacity).
This time drag the black marker to the right.
And soften the effect:
Let’s see another cool trick. If we want the light to have brilliant highlights, we can add a spotlight for each area. But there is an easier way. Create a new layer and draw bright bluish strokes only where the strongest light should strike.
Now make the highlights above the darker areas more transparent.
Another trick. Add a texture to the foot and set BlendMode (Blend Mode) on Overlay (Overlap). Unfortunately, this mode makes the legs much brighter in the light and darker on the dark side.
We can remove the white parts to get rid of this effect.
We can also leave the texture visible only in the light (the texture darkened the shadow too much, and this was not part of our plans).
Compare these two pictures. This final rendering, which we have just done, took no more than five minutes, and what a result! Just keep in mind that for this job you need to first determine the source of the lighting. Photoshop can not do everything for you!
This little trick you just learned has the widest use. I used it in my series of lessons on the creation of the elements, and you can do the same! This is a tool rather than a trick, and I’m sure that you will now find many ways to make your works of art better thanks to it.