How to Use Brush Blending Modes in Adobe Photoshop

Blending modes look at the tonal quality of the pixels you are painting on and the color you are painting with to affect the result in various ways. In this example, we will colorize a grayscale image using a blending mode, so as not to destroy the shaping of the image created by the gray.

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

  1. Open any true grayscale image. For this example, we will use a grayscale image of a baby.
    Grayscale Image

  2. In order to colorize an image, you will first need to convert it to RGB. Go to Edit > Convert to Profile. In the dialog box, select Working RGB from the Destination Space Profile drop-down menu and click OK.
    Convert to Profile

  3. Click the Foreground Color at the bottom of the Toolbar to open the Color Picker, set the color values, and click OK.
    Color Picker

  4. Select the Brush Tool and then go to the Options Bar, click the Mode drop-down menu, and select Color.
    Brush Blending Modes

  5. To prepare to colorize an element, go to the image and right-click (PC)/Control-click (Mac) anywhere to open the Brush Preset Picker. Select a brush (we have selected the Soft Round brush) and set the size and the Hardness. Press Enter (PC)/Return (Mac) to close the picker.
    Brush Preset Picker

  6. Go to the image and start painting the element you wish to colorize. In this example, we colorized the flower behind the baby's ear. Vary your brush size as needed using the bracket keys. (You can zoom in for a better view.)
    Colorized Image

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.

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