Create Transparency in Photoshop Blend Modes

Blend modes can help you achieve a number of effects by controlling how one layer’s colours interact with another. Take Blend Modes even further with handy tips on adding transparency to the blend.

In this example, we have a grungy, peeling paint texture that we would like to blend into some text. However, we only want to use the darker cracks in the paint and add that to our text so it takes on a more weathered feel. Fortunately, Blend Modes can help us here.

We’ve added some large bold text, which is currently on a layer above the background texture. We need to start by clicking on the Background layer’s lock icon to convert it to a layer as well. This allows us to click and drag the Background layer so it is above the text layer.

If you make the texture layer invisible for a moment, you can double-click the text thumbnail, change its colour to something appropriate and then make the texture visible again so it covers your text. If you double-click the texture layer, you can open the Layer Style panel.

If you look down at the Blend If section, you can use the sliders to hide light pixels or dark pixels. Slide the white tab to the left and you will see the lightest parts of the image start to disappear, leaving the dark cracks and the text layer underneath.

Examine the texture thumbnail and you will see the entire image. Right-click the layer and select Convert To Smart Object. If you now right-click the thumbnail and choose Select Pixels, you can actually make a selection of the dark cracks and not the entire peeling paint texture.

You can scale the transparent cracks to better fit your text. Now add a Clipping Mask, so it only covers the text and then double-click the texture layer again to bring up the Layer Style menu once more and perhaps add some Bevel And Emboss to really make those cracks stand out on your text.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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