Basic still shot

Blend Mode Part 1

I use it a lot, but always on my intuition, what I mean are the blending options in Premier and After Effects, or Blend Mode. Here they are:



Blend modes


I’m using blend modes (or blending modes) when I want a color filter over my shot for example, or I want to apply a film burn effect. Sometimes I want to customize a normal crossfade and make it more interesting with a blend mode. More or less I know what each options does, but I’m always just trying until I’m satisfied with the result. That’s why I looked closer into each blend mode and examined what it does, so after reading this post you will know it to.

Blend mode deel 1 Darken

In this blog post I zoom in on the first row of blend modes, next time I’m doing the one after that until I treaded every single one of them. I divide the post into parts to keep it readable. When I’m finished on the subject I will all put them together in one single post.

First, what is a blending mode? Like it says, it blends. Two layers or more you can merge together and every blend mode has a different outcome. Two layers or more become one, they interact, simple as that. So how does it work:


This is the default blend mode, normal. When you leave the opacity up to 100% nothing will happen (of course). If you put two layers one above the other nothing will happen because they don’t react in Normal blend mode.

Basic still shot

Wide shot I made in Cholula Mexico

 You can lower the opacity, like I did in the picture below with an orange color matte layer above the video layer, it dissolves then and the below layer becomes visible, but they don’t blend in. It’s normal.


Schermafbeelding 2014-09-17 om 8.31.41 PM


Like the Normal blend mode Dissolve is 100% visible unless you lower the opacity. That’s why the two options are in the same box in the menu.Blend modes dissolve They don’t blend in. But, if you lower the opacity with the Dissolve blend mode on, some pixels become transparent so you get a field of little dots.

Dissolve totaal

The lower you set the opacity the more pixels become transparent. I think it’s not the most useful blend mode in the menu. I never used it before because I don’t like the look of the little dots. Maybe if you want to create some film grain it will be helpful or, like the name says, you want to make a dissolve. Maybe there are some brilliant ways to use Dissolve blend mode but I didn’t find one. 



Then there is a line that separates the blend modes Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn and Darker Color from Normal and Dissolve.Blend mode deel 1 Darken And the reason for that is that these blend modes do something significant different, they make the layers blend and correspondent with each other. Meaning that despite the opacity set to 100% the below layer will become visible, effected by the blend mode though.

color palet 2

I made this color/black and white pallet to show you what happens with each blend mode. If I put this color pallet layer above the wide shot of the church on the hill and set the blend mode of the pallet layer to Darken this will happen:


The dark parts in the upper pallet layer stay visible, and the light parts disappear. In the picture below I set another shot with a lot of back light above the wide shot of the church to show what happens and what you can do with it.

Darken kerk

If you make the upper layer darker with a color correction tool like curves you can see the dark parts become even more visible. It’s a bit a crazy look and I don’t think I’m going to use it in the edit, but it shows what you can do with combining two shots.

Darken voorbeeld kerk donker


Multiply blend mode has the same effect as a color filter in front of a lamp. A very light yellow filter gives your shot a yellow haze, a dark blue filter will make your shot darker and of course, blue. Check the color pallet below set on Multiply blend mode. As the same with color filters in front of a lamp (or with paint), yellow and blue together becomes green.

Multiply color pallet

Everything that’s white or grey will disappear and black stays black. So if you want to use a color filter on your shot or give your shot another look by copying your shot, set it above the other and set the blend mode on Multiply, the options are endless. Don’t forget you can play with the opacity as well to make the effect less strong and more sophisticated.

Multiply voorbeeld

Multiply voorbeeld 2


Color Burn
With Color Burn the above layer darkens the layer beneath it except the lighter parts and everything that’s pure white. The bright colors in the lowest layer grow stronger (color burns).

color burn

A good example to show you what it does is with my close-up shot of a cold glass of Cola. Left the raw shot and on the right the same shot with above an adjustment layer with blend mode set on Color Burn. It darkens the darker parts and the colors are popping up.


color burn cola beide


It’s a very useful tool in some situations. If you have a shot with bright colors and you want to make those colors even stronger and the background darker, use a cold color filter to lift them up. Here is the same shot I made with the blend mode multiply, only with a light blue (cyan) color layer above it, blend mode set on Color Burn, opacity 30%.

Color Burn voorbeeld 2

It gives the shot a very dramatic and cool effect to it. The grass and the darker parts are darker and covert with a blue haze, but the yellow and white flowers are popping up giving the shot more dept.Color Burn voorbeeld 4
Color Burn is also useful to make a particular color in the shot darker.
For this shot I set an orange color layer darker then the orange of the wall above the video layer, blend mode on Color Burn and lowered the opacity. The big Mexican grasshopper becomes a bit darker but it hold its green colors and the sky, because lighter, stays blue. I cropped the orange color layer with 50% to show the difference.


Linear Burn
Linear Burn is very similar to Color Burn, except with Linear Burn the shot will become darker and the colors of the underlying layer won’t pop up that much.

Linear Burn

The difference is slightly noticeable in the close-up of the cola.

Burn cola vergelijkingLeft Color Burn, right Linear Burn.


Darker Color
Blend mode Darker Color choses the darkest color of the two layers, like it says. It’s not a very subtle mode and it does not operate on individual color channels. When red is the darkest color everything becomes red.

Darker Color

In the rainbow compartment of my color pallet you can notice the best result of what Darker Color does. The darker red, pink, purple and blue are the darkest colors so they overwhelm the rest. The lighter cyan and green almost disappear. A close-up of the rainbow compartment in another shot:

Darker Color mannen copy 

The dark trousers of the left man stay visible in those thick colors except the darkest blue overrides it. The lighter green and blue disappear except on the brightest parts of their heads and sweaters.

I don’t use it very much because it’s a very strong effect. But you can use it in the same way I used Color Burn on the big Mexican grasshopper (that’s not the official name).

Darker color voorbeeld 3

The green of the grasshopper remains more intact in comparison with Color Burn and Darken, because the green is darker then the orange color layer above it, but the downside is the sky and the clouds are more orange colored as well.

So this was my first part of the blend-modes-in-Adobe-Premiere post. You can play with these modes and create cool effects with it even with three, four, five or more layers. Next time I will zoom in on the second list of blend modes beginning with Lighten. Hope you enjoyed the post and find it useful.






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