Using Blend If In Photoshop

Blend if photoshop tutorial

Using Blend If In Photoshop

This feature in Photoshop can be very useful indeed. It can be used to seamlessly blend layers. Whether you’re blending textures or colours, having a play around can be very rewarding and fun. In this tutorial, we’re going to explain a bit more about this technique and the sliders that control it. In this example, we’ll use it to alter temperatures in targeted areas.

Blend If In Photoshop For Beginners

Blend If Explained

The way Blend If works is by using luminosity masking. Using the sliders, you can control the visibility of layer content by it’s grayscale value or luminosity. 255 being white and 0 being black. Where colours fit within that grayscale depends on their brightness and saturation. In our example, we’re going to play with the temperature. Playing with the Blend If function we’ll separately target lighter tones then darker tones. Giving us control over where the temperate changes are applied.

Blend If Sliders

The Blend If sliders are different from most sliders. There’s two sets of sliders, one controls ‘This Layer’ (A) the other controls the ‘Underlying Layer'(B). As the names suggest by sliding the sliders on ‘This Layer’ you directly affect what happens to the layer you currently have selected. When you move the slider on the ‘Underlying Layer’ it forces change from the underlying layer through the top or current layer. The sliders control a luminosity range from Black (0) to White (255).

blend if panel


By sliding the sliders any part of the image in which tones are above the threshold of 201 will be blended out, but the blend will be harsh. 

drag right


To soften the blend and make it smoother and more natural, we can split the sliders. Holding down the Alt key on a PC or Opt key on a Mac, left-click on the innermost section of the slider and drag it toward the center. You will see the slider will split in two. These two sliders will now form a rage where the blend is spread (170 / 181).

split blend if


Watch the tutorial video so see the effects of the sliders.

Step-by-step Guide To Using Blend If in Photoshop 

1. First, with your image open. Add a Cooling Photo Filter.

photo filter in photoshop


2. Select a cooling filter.

cool photos filter


3. Double-click on the Filter layer.

open layer style


4. The Layer Style panel will open. This is where we will find the Blend If function.

Layer Style Blend If


5. As we are trying to blend out the cooling filter effects on the clouds, we need to slide the brights slider. Left-click and drag the slider.

brights blend if slider


6. Eventually, you will see the effects of the slider. The filter will be blended out but it will be a harsh blend.

harsh blend if


7. To soften the blend, hold down the Alt key on a PC or Opt key on a Mac. Now left-click on the innermost slider and slide it further.

split slider


8. The blend will soften and become smooth and natural.


Now we have blended out the lighter tones in the cooling filter and brought back the warmth to the clouds but the mountains remain cool.

before blend if

cool mountains after blend if


9. Let’s reverse this. Return the white slider back to its original position and slider the black slider toward the centre. This will target the darker tones in the image.

black slider


10. Again, by sliding both sliders the blend will be harsh

fix harsh blending


11. Hold down the Alt key for PC or Opt key for Mac and left-click on the inner black slider to create a blending range to smoothen the blend.

smooth blending in photoshop


12. Notice how much smoother the blend now is.

blend darks

Now we have blended out the darker tones in the cooling filter and brought back warmth to the mountains while keeping the clouds cool.

before blend if

cool clouds in photoshop

Additional Resources

Raya Pro 5.0 has the Blend If feature already incorporated in it which is preset to give smoothly feathered blends. Find out more about What’s New In Raya Pro.

Online Resources

You can also use Blend If in HDR. I found this in-depth article on How To Create Natural HDR Landscapes Using Blend-If Photoshop Layer Technique.

I also found a really handy video tutorial on How To Use “Blend If” In Photoshop Like a PRO: The Definitive 7-Minute Guide.

Or, a more comprehensive post on Photoshop Advanced Blending – The Blend If Sliders.

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