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How To Stylize A Portrait Using Layer Blending Modes In Photoshop

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Sometime you get a great image from a shoot, but it just doesn’t have enough pizzaz straight out of the camera.

It may look like the image below was taken with extremely punchy lighting, but a lot of the stylization was done in Photoshop using layer blending modes. By duplicating the image multiple times and using blending modes like Screen and Overlay, we’re able to alter different parts of the image separately using layer masks to make sure it looks the way we want it to.

Blend If

The blend if function is very useful when styling an image in this manner – if we want a layer set to screen to only show up in the highlights on Ashley’s face, simply drag the sliders so it only shows up where the image is brighter.

Sharpening + Coloring Your Image

A great, quick and easy way to sharpen your photos is to combine the high pass Filter on a greyscale duplicate of your image with layer blending modes. Using a small radius will strengthen the fine details, while using a large radius will act as a more gritty global Dodge and Burn.

To add Color to the shadows, we can create a solid Color fill and set the blend if sliders to only affect where the image is darkest. We can add even more Color to the image by using a levels adjustment layer to pull up the blues in the shadows and yellows into the highlights. The only problem with this is that it changes her Skin to a more greenish hue, which can be easily fixed by a curves layer with the reds pulled up and masked to only affect her Face.


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