Blend If Layer Styles
1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Mar. 23, 2006
This tutorial is meant to accompany the Drips
& Splatter design
The purpose of this tutorial is to show you a basic technique for extracting
a drip or spray texture from its background. We are basically trying to isolate
the black spray portion of our image so that it can be layered over the top
of another image. The image used for this tutorial can be downloaded from
Splatter article. Take a look at the Before & After image to get the
idea of what we are working towards.
Before & After Sample
Blend If layer styles are one of those things that I overlooked for so long.
Then one day I was like, hey, what's this? And presto! I found a tool I would
use so often and I quickly wondered how I ever survived with out it. This
technique can be applied in so many ways.
Open the image we are working with to start off.
Make sure they layer you are working with is not a background layer. Fix
this by double clicking the background layer and hitting ok.
Next add a solid gray layer under the spray texture. You won't see it for
now, but it will show through as we extract the spray from it's white background
and this is easier to see the effect then when you see the checkerboard pattern.
Double click the spray layer to get the Layer Style dialog box.
You will notice the Blend If section in the bottom middle of the dialog
box. The first bar titled This Layer is the one we are concerned
with. Drag the little white arrow from the right towards the left. This will
force anything lighter then the point the arrow is at to drop out of the
current layer. Move it a tad and you will quickly see the affect.
A further enhancement you can do is to separate the white arrow into two
smaller ones. This will ease the transition instead of having it be so hard
edged. Hold down the ALT key and drag the arrow, it will split in two!
Below is the results. You see the gray from the layer below and the texture
sits on it's own with only the black portion showing through! We could stop
here, but read on!
As you can see by the image below changing the background to red causes
a problem. It looks like a mess! The need to place the layer over a color
is obvious so lets fix it.
Note: I also adjusted the curves of the splatter at this point to make it
more solid black. Just crank up those curves to get achieve this. Levels
can also do the trick.
Go back to your layer styles dialog and edit the Blend If properties for
This Layer. As you can see by the image below I moved the sliders very far
to the left. This makes sure to drop out all those white pixels.
Now were talking. This looks really nice and we have a bit more control
how it will look. Not to mention you could never mask this sucker out using
typical masking techniques. The extrude tool might get the job done, after
a lifetime of edge highlighting. Some will ask about the multiply blending
mode, that might work depending on what needs to be below the splatter. The
benefit of this technique is the control you have to fine tune the effect.
Hopefully this will provide you a basic step towards putting these splatters
to use. Download all the images from the Drips
Sprays & Splatters page and