6 Popular Blending Modes In After Effects

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Blending modes can dramatically change the way your composition looks and it’s a very fast way to obtain a new look and stylize your media or layers.

The “blending modes” are also referred to as “transfer modes” because of the way their characteristics are transferring to the below layer, and to reveal the transfer modes you will need to press the F4 key.

These modes will work similarly in Adobe Premiere and Adobe Photoshop

It’s important to note that blending modes will not work with keyframes, they cannot be animated. The workaround to using several blending modes on a layer is by splitting it at certain points and changing the transfer modes.

Some quick tips to access the blending modes:

  • The blending modes can be also accessed from the Layer menu and Blending mode
  • You can cycle through the blending modes by holding down the shift key and pressing “-” for down or “=” for up. Just make sure the layer you are trying to change the transfer mode to is highlighted

1. Screen

The screen transfer mode enables you to overlay and composite visual elements on a black background.

Screening with back doesn’t make any changes to the footage and screening with white produces white.

The result of the effect is similar to projecting multiple photographic images on a screen.

Let’s take a look at this example, we have the background image


and an image with snow on a black background.


After selecting the Screen transfer mode, this is the result we get


2. Multiply

If the screen was an Additive effect, Multiply is the exact opposite and it’s a Subtractive effect. This effect looks at the colors in each channel and multiplies the base color by the blend color. It’s a great effect to use when adding different textures to your compositions and it enables your elements to look like they are part of the original actual scene or footage.

Let’s take a look at the original image:


and the texture that we want to use


And here is the final result


3. Add

The Add effect is similar to the Screen effect but in addition to the highlights it also adds color values to the below layer resulting in a much brighter image

A great use for this effect is for lens flares or light leaks

Let’s take a look at this example:


And we’ll add this light leak image and apply the add transfer mode


And this is the final result


4. Classic Color Burn

The Classic color burn effect is great for old style/vintage looks. It works by darkening the source color to reflect the underlying color. It’s an additive effect and similar to Multiply but it interacts differently with the background.

Let’s take a look at this source image:


and a grunge texture:


And the end result is this


5. Overlay

The overlay effect multiplies the input color values while preserving the highlights and shadows. It’s a highly used effect and typically it’s used in conjunction with the lowering of the opacity property.

Here’s the base photo:


and with a color overlay:


6. Soft Light

This effect either darkens or brightens the colors by according to the blending color. If the blend color is lighter than 50%, the target layer is lightened in a similar way to color dodge. This effect can be used as an alternative to Overlay.

Here’s our base photo:


And with a Soft light effect applied to it:


Remus Hosu

Remus Hosu

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