How to use behind / clear blending modes in Photoshop tutorial

Learn how to use clear and behind blending modes in Photoshop (using brushes) in CC 2018 - CS5etc

Behind / clear blending modes

behind clear blending mode brushes photoshop how to use
  1. New document with transparent background or use a new layer for the strokes in Photoshop

  2. Goto the custom shape tool and set foreground color to black (say) and apply shape as pixels to transparent background

  3. Change foreground color to orange (for example)

  4. Goto to the brush tool and select a brush and set the blending mode to 'behind'

  5. Apply brush stroke over and around the applied shape

  6. Set the blending mode to clear

  7. Apply over the end of the brush to 'erase' to transparent


Video tutorial on the subject by (youtube)


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Behind : For this tutorial, create a layer via the layer menu and then add a rectangle shape to your image in black. Select the main paint tool and then set the color of the paint via the foreground to orange and select one of the default presets from the panel.


Go to the dropdown and instead of selecting normal or difference or darken to apply the preset, select the behind option (or BBM as I will call it from now on).


With BBM selected, paint on the image. You will now see the paint added to the sections of the layer without any pixels. The parts of the layer with pixels (whether black or any color will be untouched). Now change the color of the tool to green. Now paint again using BBM and you will see that the orange and black are untouched and the green is added only to the area that has no pixels in the layer.


You can also use this approach to create a contour like image (albeit a crude design but you can create a shape on a layer and then paint around the edge using the BBM. You can use one color followed by another color and if you use a small size of preset and follow the edge of the shape and alternate the colors (say black and white and black and white etc) then you can quickly create a very crude contour from any artwork such as a vector design layer.


The BBM can be applied with less than 100% opacity to create a more painted blend. It does not matter if the opacity is 50% etc, if some pixel information has been added whether by stroke or shape or gradient then the BBM will obey this and not add anything more to the layer. This is a very useful feature.


Clear : Now you will probably ask, how can I remove the artwork that I have added to the layer by using the BBM.


You can use the clear blending mode (CBM) and the CBM is the next entry down in the dropdown. In many ways, it appears to be of little use as it just the same as painting with white and erasing the artwork but it is also erasing all the pixel information.


So as soon as you have used the tool, you can set the dropdown back to the BBM and continue painting and re-adding the pixel information.


Use to get transparent background : Perhaps even more useful is that the CBM can be used with the unlocked background layer and remove areas to transparency. So simply select any preset and paint with that to remove the white or color or pixel information from the layer back to transparency and then you can use the remaining layer free from the edges (perhaps duplicate it or add shadows etc via the styles menu). Notice that when you are apply the CBM then it is only working on the selected layer if that is the background or any other. If there is some pixel information in an 'above' layer that will be ignored and trying to remove it with the stroke will achieve nothing until you actually go to that layer.


So again, the CBM is a super useful tool if you want to erase the background to transparency. Just select background layer and paint over the entire document to reduce it to a transparent image


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