How to use blending modes with Photoshop shapes tutorial

How to use custom shapes with the Photoshop blending modes such as darken, difference, lighten etc. The Photoshop custom shapes can be blended as a shape layer via the layers panel. This tutorial shows Photoshop custom shapes and blending modes in Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc

Blending modes and Photoshop custom shapes

how to use blending modes with Photoshop custom shapes
  1. Select the custom shapes tool from the Photoshop toolbar

  2. Select shape layer option

  3. Select a shape from the shapes presets picker

  4. Apply shape

  5. Apply shape

  6. Set color via the top bar fill

  7. Go to the layers panel

  8. Set the Photoshop blending mode to darken for the shape


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13,000 Custom shapes for Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 2014 CS6 CS5 etc and Photoshop elements for shape blurs etc CSH 13,000 Custom shapes for Photoshop and Elements

Select the CSH Photoshop custom shapes tool and set the option to 'layer' and then add the layer with the current design (or select another). You can then go to the layer panel and select the blending mode as well as the opacity - set them to darken and difference and the result will modify how the artwork interacts with the underlying layer. You can modify this at any point as well as change the color and the stroke of the vector. You can repeat this with new vectors to build all kinds of images.


Some blending modes are better than others and work well with some color, with other colors you will see no change at all such as trying to use the lighter color with a light image.

Filter shape layers in Photoshop by using the "kind" filter in layers panel

filter shape layers

You can filter shape layers from all the other layers in the panel by using "kind". You may have created multiple layers such as adjustments as well as standard raster layers and type etc but you want to see only the shapes. You can do that via the layers panel's filters and by selecting the "shape layers" filter. The filter does not remove the other layers from the document. You can then select the shape layers and use the blending modes as required for each of them. You can also filter them by using name if you do not rename the shapes (such as keeping them as shape 1, etc)

  1. Go to the layers panel

  2. Go to the filter type

  3. Select kind

  4. Select filter by shape layers

  5. Go to the shape layers and select the blending mode required and opacity such as darken

Blending As Pixels - you can use the blending modes such as darken with shapes / pixel mode in Photoshop

blending modes and custom shapes

You can do the same as with the pixel option for the custom shapes. You can change the color of the shape as well as the blending mode and opacity before you apply it. You can also use the fade command. The effect is destructive so if you wish to preserve the work, it is best to apply on layers (which can be deleted)


  1. Select custom shape tool from the Photoshop toolbar

  2. Select shape from shapes dropdown / picker

  3. Set color via foreground color

  4. Set blending mode (especially if there is something already in the image)

  5. Apply shape

  6. Set color

  7. Set blending mode again to something different

  8. Apply the custom shape again and so on

Fade as - you can also fade the result as well as change the blending mode via the fade panel

You can also use the custom shapes with the edit menu and fade command. Apply the shape and then use the fade to change the opacity and blending mode

  1. Select the custom shape tool in Photoshop toolbar

  2. Select shape from picker

  3. Select color

  4. Select 'pixel' as pick tool mode

  5. Apply the tool

  6. Goto the edit menu in Photoshop

  7. Fade

  8. Change the shape's blending mode

  9. Change the opacity

  10. OK


The fade is useful in many different areas of Photoshop.

You can use the pixel option with layers and then blend the layers in Photoshop

blending modes and pixels and layers

You can also use blending modes if you use layers with the Photoshop custom shapes applied as 'pixels'. Simply apply the shapes to a layer and then go to the layers menu and set the blending mode. You can also add the shapes to multiple layers and use different blending modes and opacity with each layer. You can, of course, use different blending modes between each shape

  1. Layer menu

  2. New layer

  3. Select shape and color etc

  4. Apply shape

  5. Select different blending mode

  6. Apply new shape

  7. Go to the layer menu in Photoshop

  8. New layer

  9. Continue applying pixel shapes in different colors and blending modes

  10. Layer menu and add new layer etc

  11. Go to the layers panel

  12. Select a layer

  13. Goto to the blending mode in layers panel

  14. Change blending mode to darken or color burn etc

Blending modes available with Photoshop shape layers

blending modes and photoshop custom shapes

There are many different blending modes available for shape layers and shapes in Photoshop such as


  1. Normal

  2. Dissolve

  3. Darken

  4. Multiply

  5. Color burn

  6. Linear burn

  7. Darker color

  8. Lighten

  9. Screen

  10. Color dodge

  11. Linear dodge (add)

  12. Lighter color

  13. Overlay

  14. Soft light

  15. Hard light

  16. Vivid light

  17. Linear light

  18. Pin light

  19. Hard mix

  20. Difference

  21. Exclusion

  22. Subtract

  23. Divide

  24. Hue

  25. Saturation

  26. Color

  27. Luminosity

There are a few others such as clear and behind etc that appear depending on the circumstances


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