How to use screen blending to spice up your portrait photography Top tips and advice on screen blending effects in photography


When it comes to the editing stage of photography, we would always recommend a photographer try something new once in a while. Venture out of your comfort zone and try some of the different features on Photoshop that you might not usually choose. You never know – you might just create a stunning masterpiece. 


What is screen blending?

Screen blending your portraits can add a new layer and give a different feeling to your photography. Screen blending is known to be the most common type of blending that photographers do. The idea of screen blending is to merge two photos, resulting in a creative new effect or image. Doing this will spice up your portrait as the results tend to be spectacular and give a different meaning to your image as it gives a soft glow to the subject.


When to use screen blending?

Although screen blending is a common edit that many photographers use, it doesn’t mean they should be using it all the time. Screen blend every single one of your photos and the effect will end up losing its meaning.

Using this to spice up your portraits from time to time, however, is ideal, especially if the theme of your photos is suitable – for example, mental health. Screen blending is perfect for highlighting this theme.

For instance, one of your portraits can show the mask that a person puts on whilst the other portrait will show the truth that is hidden internally. 

Bear in mind, however, that screen blending might not always be ideal. It could be because the areas that lighten up might not give the soft glow that you want. If this happens, it could take away the meaning of the picture. 

Most importantly though, do not be afraid to experiment, as there is no harm in checking how your images look when screen blending. If it doesn’t give the result that you want, edit your work differently and create the masterpiece that you are trying to attain. 


Screen blending photography


How to screen blend on Photoshop

Although Photoshop might seem daunting for a beginner, this editing system is quite simple to use once a person understands what the features do. And if it is your first time trying to screen blend two portraits together, and you are worried that you will mess this up, don’t worry, as this mode is known to be one of the more unchallenging ones to do. But if you still need some help. Here is a guide. 

    1. Open Photoshop.
    2. Open up the first portrait file that you want to edit.
    3. Add a new layer.
    4. Open up the second portrait file in the second layer. 
    5. Above the layers, there is a dropbox with the word ‘Normal’, select this dropbox.
    6. Select ‘Screen’.
    7. Both layers will blend together, making the image look lighter or creating other effects.


Photoshop blend modes

There are many different Photoshop blending options – 27 to be exact. Each of these modes fit in one of the three categories. They either fit in the group that darkens the picture, lightens the photo, or creates a contrast. Including screen blend, here are some more modes that are commonly used.



This is known as the best mode for darkening. This mode’s name came from maths, and the reason why is because when a photographer uses this mode, they multiply the luminance levels from the pixels on the current layer with the pixels in the layer below them. This mode is ideal if you want to create shadows and remove light colours whilst keeping the darker ones on show. Using this mode is perfect if you want to design a mysterious portrait photograph. 



This feature is a part of the contrast blend modes. This mode has a combination of the screen blend mode on the lighter pixels and the multiply blend mode on the darker pixels. A huge difference that the overlay blend mode has compared to the other contrast blend modes, is that the effects are influenced by the brightness of the layer underneath the upper layer. 

This mode is ideal to use on photos that are vintage where the colours have faded, as the overlay blend will bring out both the darker and lighter colours. 


Soft Light

This mode is in the same category as Overlay. It is rather similar to the overlay blend mode, with every colour that is 50% lighter than grey becoming even lighter, and every colour that is 50% darker than grey becoming even darker. However, the outcome is softer, resulting in transparent highlights and shadows. 

Never be afraid to make mistakes. Remember, it is easy to undo the edits that you do not like when using Photoshop. Screen blending is recommended to experiment with when editing your portraits – why not give it a go, and see how unique your portraits look after. 


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