Filters: Blend modes

The use of filters can be significantly extended with blending modes. Each filter supports the use of its own blending mode, which allows for very complex combinations of results. Blending modes are both a mystery and a source of great design power. Each blending mode controls how a filter’s results are blended with the image.

Applying a Blending Mode to a Filter. 

To access Blending Modes for a filter:

  • Apply a filter to an image.
  • Click the triangle next to a filter’s name.

  • From the drop-down menu choose Blending Mode.
  • Select a blending mode from the list.
  • Definition of Blending Modes

How do blending modes work? 

The simple answer is, it depends. Your response is likely, depends on what? Simply put, the effect achieved by blending a filter varies with the contents of the original layer and the filters applied. A blending mode compares the content of two and enacts changes based on the content of both.

Here are the modes supported by Luminar:

  • Normal. The default mode performs no additional change to how layer contents interact.
  • Darken. Pixels lighter than blend are replaced; darker ones are not.
  • Multiply. Is similar to drawing strokes on the image with markers. The colors of the top layer are blended with the image.
  • Color Burn. Evaluates each channel; darkens base by increasing contrast.
  • Lighten. Evaluates each channel; it then uses base or blend color (whichever is lighter).
  • Screen. Uses a lighter color. It is useful for “knocking” black out of a layer.
  • Overlay. Overlays existing pixels while preserving highlights and shadows of base.
  • Soft Light. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the image.
  • Hard Light. Effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image.
  • Difference. Evaluates each channel and subtracts or inverts depending on brightness.
  • Subtract. Looks at the color in each channel and subtracts the blend from the base.
  • Hue. Uses luminance and saturation of the base and the hue of the blend.
  • Color. Preserves gray levels. It’s very useful for coloring and tinting.
  • Luminosity. Is the inverse effect from the Color mode.

NOTE: To get the most from blending modes:

  • Experiment Freely. The best way to use blending modes is to just try them out.
  • Exploit Blending Modes. Do you need to tint an image? Place a Photo Filter on top of the image and change to Hue or Color mode. Need to drop out white in a layer? Just set it to Multiply mode. Blending modes are available for every filter.

Additional Filter Controls.

If you’d like to take additional control over how filters behave, try these two advanced options. Double click a Slider. If you double-click on any slider name resets the value to the default. In most cases, double-clicking returns it to 0.

Hold the Option Key. If you press and hold the Option key and click on a slider value in the sidebar, moving the cursor to the left and right will let you set the values of the slider with high accuracy. Slider sensitivity is higher than with its normal movement. This allows you to fine-tune to small numeric values.

Watch a Luminar video.

Download the full Luminar User Guide in PDF Format

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