After Effects – Blending Modes

Blending modes, also known as composite modes, are great ways to mix two layers together. In the Adobe suite, you can find blending modes in several applications such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. In this article, using Adobe After Effects, we will review the main categories and show how they can be beneficial to use in film.

It is important to note that you need two layers in order to see the full result of a blending mode. Below, you can see that we’ve set up a foreground and background layer. We will change the blending mode of the foreground to see how both layers mix together. The option that allows you to change the blending mode is circled below.


Normal Blending Modes


Each layer has a blending mode. By default, each layer has a normal blending mode setting. Other options in this category include Dissolve and Dancing Dissolve. The only difference is that dissolve and dancing dissolve may make a few pixels transparent.

Subtractive Blending Modes


These options include Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Classic Color Burn, Linear Burn, and Darker Color. Applying any of these will make the composite image more dark. These blending modes would work well in a dark high contrast scene.

Additive Blending Modes


These options are Add, Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Classic Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, and Lighter Color. Adding one of these will make the composite lighter. This is great for adding overlays or to brighten up a shot.

Complex Blending Modes


These options include Overlay, Soft Overlay, Hard Light, Linear Light, Vivid Light, Pin Light, and Hard Mix. All of these perform different effects depending on whether one of the colors is lighter than 50% gray. These are great options if you are looking for something between subtractive and additive.

Difference Blending Modes


These options include Difference, Classic Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide. These are harsh contrast blending modes that can be cool to use artistically, often used a lot in music videos.

Those are the main options you have for blending modes. To see the full list and to learn more, you can refer to Adobe’s help page where they go way more into depth about them. We hope you found this article to be helpful finding uses for the different blending modes.



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