After refining the adjustment layer
After using the Blend If to refine the adjustment

5 Uses for Photoshop Blend If

5 Uses for Photoshop’s Blend If Sliders. Blend If is an incredibly useful tool that a lot of people don’t take advantage of or even know exists. Blend If is somewhat buried within the Photoshop system but I’ll show you 5 great tips for using it. Note that no use for Blend If replaces any other function but the more functions that become second nature to you, the faster and better your work will become. For example a good Layer Mask can take hours, Blend If can take seconds for a quick mock and then can still be used with a Layer Mask for the finer details as needed.

Each Red Subheading links to the original questions and is where images for #1-#3 can be found if you want to follow along.

  1. How to remove a White Background
  2. How to remove a Black Background
  3. How to remove a colored background
  4. How to superimpose an image
  5. How to sharpen an image

How to remove a White Background

Go to Layer → Layer Style → Blending Options. Then at the bottom is the Blend If Slider and pull in from the right side on This Layer. Then hold alt key to separate the left and right parts of the marker to give it a smooth transition:

Remove White Background with Blend If slider
Remove White Background using Blend If slider

 

White Background removed with Blend If
White Background has been removed using Blend If slider

2. How to remove a Black Background

Go to Layer → Layer Style → Blending Options. Then at the bottom is the Blend If Slider and pull in from the left side on This Layer. Then hold alt key to separate the left and right parts of the marker to give it a smooth transition:

Remove Black Background with Blend If slider
Remove Black Background using Blend If slider

 

Black Background removed with Blend If
Black Background has been removed using Blend If slider

3. How to remove a Colored Background

Alright for this one we have a Yellowish background. Ideally you’ll want to use either Lab or RGB for this technique. Since this one is closest to a Yellow color I’ll switch to Lab. Now if you’ve noticed by the Blend If slider is a drop down menu that in RGB says Gray and if opened has Red, Green and Blue. Well in Lab when you open that it has Lightness, a, and b. If you’ve been reading or watching my tutorials you’ll know Yellow and Blue are the b channel. Switch to that and then pull in from the yellow side to get rid of the background:

Remove Colored Background with Blend If slider
Remove Colored Background using Blend If slider

 

Black Background removed with Blend If
Colored Background has been removed using Blend If slider

Now I’m not sure where that image came from but since its transparent it still has a bit of a color cast. We can fix that with a quick curves adjustment. As we know that color cast is in the b channel so we’ll just pull it down a tad. I dropped in a point on a fairly opaque part of the bottle and brought the B value down to zero.

Fix color cast with curves adjustment
Fix remaining color cast using a curves adjustment

Oh no! We kinda ruined our Red ink color. I liked it better before. What can we do? Oooh its a bonus tip, Blend If slider to the rescue! This time we’re going to do it on the Channel Adjustment layer. Since it’s Red we’re going to be in the A Channel and instead of using This Layer, we’ll use Underlying Layer. Think to yourself, “If the underlying layer is Red, we don’t want to see this.” So we’ll pull in from the right side of the Blend If slider.

Refine the color cast correction
Refine the color cast correction using Blend If on underlying layer

 

After refining the adjustment layer
After using the Blend If to refine the adjustment

4. How to superimpose an image

If you follow me on Instagram @RyanFromGDSE, which I’d love it if you did, you may have already seen this one. I’ll show you how to superimpose two photos using the Blend If slider. I’m going to use two from Unsplash.

Open the two photos, I put this image of flowers on top of this image of a guy. Then I open the Blend If slider and say “If the underlying layer is light I don’t want to see the flowers,” so I pull in from the right side of the underlying image. I also lowered the Opacity to 70 which is why we put the Flowers on top:

Superimpose images with Blend If
Superimpose two images using Blend If slider

 

Superimpose image from Blend If adjustment
Superimposed image from Blend If adjustment

5. How to Sharpen an Image (not from a question)

I’ll use this image of a woman from Unsplash to show you how to sharpen an image and then refine it with Blend If. If you’ve watched my tutorials you’ve already seen how I like to sharpen things which is with the High Pass Filter (its towards the end of the article and video) so I’ll just skim over that part.

  1. Start by duplicating the layer
  2. Rename the duplicate to Sharpen
  3. Convert for Smart Filters
  4. Apply High Pass Filter – I exaggerated the effect and used a 9 for this.

    Image with High Pass Filter
    Image with High Pass Filter
  5. Alright, now before switching the Blend Mode to Linear Light, look at the sharpening. See how it gets really light outside of her face and body. That’s what people sometimes refer to as almost a roughness or harshness when using this filter for sharpening. In the tutorial I linked above I refined this using a Mask on those areas. Another method though is…. blend if! We now know Blend If can say “If this region is this value, don’t show it.”
  6. Open the Blend If options and adjust it to remove the light areas. Dark areas can be important to refine a little too but the white areas are generally more important.

    Refined sharpen with Blend If
    Refine a high pass filter sharpen using blend if slider

Here is a Before and After without the Blend If adjustment:

Original ImageImage sharpened but no blend if

Here is Sharpened without the Blend If adjustment to with the Blend If adjustment for comparison. Notice how the edges don’t look overdone and harsh. Keep in mind I deliberately went really hard with the High Pass filter so it would be obvious. In practice you’d probably still want to be a lot less heavy handed with it.

Image sharpened but no blend ifImage sharpened and refined using Blend If

Finally from the original to the Sharpened. And remember you could still further refine this with masks and all that good stuff.

Original ImageImage sharpened and refined using Blend If

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