How to Use Blending Modes for Simple Color Correction in Adobe Photoshop

In Brief...

While blending modes can be used with the Brush Tool for retouching, they are also a powerful feature of the Layers Panel and can be used for simple color correction. The following steps show how to utilize blending modes to lighten an image; a color adjustment that is often necessary with digital photography.

This feature works the same in all recent versions of Adobe Photoshop: CS5, CS6, and Creative Cloud (CC).


    The Layers Panel has several buttons. Below is a diagram to help you navigate them.
    Layers Panel

  1. Go to the Layers Panel. Click and hold on the Background layer and drag it to the New Layer button. This duplicates the layer.

  2. Click the Blending Mode menu and select Screen. Notice that the blending modes are divided into groups separated by horizontal lines in the menu. Below are general categories:
    Blending Mode Groups

  3. The Screen Blending Mode strengthens the highlights in an image, making it appear brighter. The brightness can now be adjusted using the layer's opacity. With Background copy layer selected, go to the Opacity field and set it to the desired number.
    Layer Panel Opacity

Author: Tracy Berry

Tracy has been a senior graphic designer/programmer, instructor, and consultant since 1993 and has developed hundreds of logos, marketing materials, websites, and multimedia solutions for customers worldwide, including involvement in large corporate software rollouts. She has helped many organizations optimize and streamline data solutions. She teaches both onsite and online courses and has her CTT (Certified Technical Trainer) certification. Tracy specializes in teaching graphics, desktop publishing, web design, reporting/productivity applications, as well as the creation of online courses with software from leading vendors.