Blending modes are a great feature of Photoshop that really exploit the concept of layers to its fullest. They allow you to mix the pixels of different layers together in all sorts of interesting ways to produce some great special effects. Take a look at Figure 7.1 to see some examples of blending modes in action. In each case, the layers that make up the image haven't been touched; only the blending mode is changed.
The other great thing about layer blending modes is that, like adjustment layers and layer styles, they're nondestructive. You can change a layer's blending mode at any time without permanently affecting the pixels of any of the affected layers.
Most folks use Photoshop's blending modes to create artistic effects and make layers merge together in a funky and pleasing manner. The classic strategy here is the scattershot approach, where you start at the top of the list of blending modes and work your way through to see which mode works best! Although the blending modes in Photoshop all have a mathematical basis, the results are often unpredictable. The best way to learn about and use blending modes is to experiment with them. Play with different modes and opacity values for each layer until you get a result you're happy with.
Having said that, in this chapter you learn exactly what these most mysterious of Photoshop features actually do to your pixels, which should make this process slightly less hit and miss.
Although blending ...