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 in CC 2018 2017 2015 2014 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


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.


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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.


filtersYou 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)


pixelsYou 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)


For example, select custom shape tool from the Photoshop toolbar and Select a preset from presets dropdown / picker. Set color via foreground color. Set blending mode (especially if there is something already in the image) to darken or overlay etc. Apply the artwork

Set color. Set blending mode again to something different. Apply the pixel design again and so on


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. Select the custom shape tool in Photoshop toolbar. Select shape from picker and set the color for the design. Select 'pixel' as pick tool mode and add the artwork to the current artboard. Goto the edit menu in Photoshop and Fade command. Change the shape's blending mode. Change the opacity and click OK


The fade is useful in many different areas of Photoshop.



You can also use blending modes if you use layers with the Photoshop custom shapes applied as 'pixels'. You can now use masks over the entire image. You can also apply effects to the entire layer (unless you use selections to limit the range of the effect). You can now set the layer to darken or difference etc via the dropdown at the top of the layers panel.

squaresThere are many different modes available for the presets






Color burn

Linear burn

Darker color



Color dodge

Linear dodge (add)

Lighter color


Soft light

Hard light

Vivid light

Linear light

Pin light

Hard mix









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


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