Photoshop’s blend modes are among its most powerful tools. They are one of those little things that are easy to miss for a novice. They’re “hiding” in plain sight in a drop-down menu at the top of Photoshop’s ‘layers’ panel, but once you find them and begin to explore, they present a whole world of options in an unassuming package.

Blend modes are useful for all sorts of things, from artistic effects to retouching. But what is a blend mode, anyway? In short, they are a way to change the relationship between the pixels in a layer above and a layer below.The ‘normal’ blend mode is Photoshop’s default, and when that is the chosen blend mode, a layer placed on top of another will simply block the lower layer out, becoming the only visible layer. Changing the upper layer’s opacity will allow the layer beneath to bleed through, but it’s merely a difference in transparency.

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Change the blend mode, however, and you will see a different effect. Blend modes are grouped by type, with the blend modes within each group performing a similar, yet varied task. Photoshop Training Channel on YouTube has created a video that explains blend modes in an easy-to-grasp and straightforward way to quickly walk you through what the different groups’ functions are.

If you find that the video whets your blend mode appetite, there is also a deep-dive on the same topic available. You can check out the video below, and to find the deep-dive, click through to YouTube to see the link in this video’s description.