Photoshop’s Blend If sliders are wonderfully useful and powerful tools. They allow us to seamlessly blend two images together with ease, or knock out elements of our images completely. But, they’re not without their quirks. One of those quirks is kind of a double-edged sword. The perk, and problem is that it takes adjustments you make to the image into account before it applies the blend.
This can be very handy when merging two different landscape images together, for example. But it can be completely useless for other purposes. In this 90 second video, Jesús Ramirez from the Photoshop Training Channel shows us a workaround for this. It’s a trick I often use myself for images here on DIYP, especially when compositing product photos onto new backgrounds.
The concept is quite simple. Apply the Blend If sliders the way you want to give you the reveal you’re after, and then wrap it up inside a smart object. If you’re not familiar with the Blend If sliders, check out Jesús’ more complete guide that we posted yesterday. Jesús does a great job of explaining it for his purposes in the video, but I wanted to show you how I use this technique.
If you’ve been on this website for more than five minutes, you know that we post about new gear releases. We’re often sent images by the manufacturers, but a plain white boring background doesn’t always let us show off the product in the best way. We might want to make a new coloured background, or composite the item over the top of another photograph.
Let’s say it’s the Nikon D5600 announcement, and instead of plain white, I wanted to put it on a blue gradient background. First, I bring in the photo from Nikon and place it on top of the background layer in Photoshop.
Obviously, I want to knock out the white background, so I turn to the blend if sliders. From there I can easily knock out the white, and split the slider to create a smooth transition along the edge of the camera.
But this presents two problems for me. The first is that the background isn’t the only white element in the shot. There’s the manufacturer’s logo, the model number, the writing on the front of the lens, and various specular highlights that are now invisible. So, they let the background show through. Also, if I want to add a drop shadow to this to help separate it from the background, this happens.
Not ideal, is it? So, I get rid of the drop shadow, right click the layer and turn it into a smart object. Then I double click the smart object layer to edit inside it. From here, I duplicate the layer, and remove the blend if slider. I add a mask which hides everything on that layer. I place this below the original layer. Below both of those I add another layer with a strong colour contrast to whatever the item is. This way, I can see exactly what’s still invisible.
Then, on the layer with the blank mask, I paint in white to bring the original colour information back to the brighter areas of the object. The logo, model number, writing and other details.
Once everything is visible, I disable or delete the coloured layer, hit save, and go back to my original image. You can see now that we have that perfect outline, but all of the other items that were transparent are now white, as they should be.
And what’s even better is that the drop shadow and other layer effects now work perfectly.
Ok, so I probably wouldn’t use that exact background for a post here on DIYP, but it shows why I find smart objects so useful when working with the Blend If sliders in Photoshop.
This trick really makes the Blend If sliders so much more useful. If you do a lot of precise cutting out in Photoshop, it can save you a lot of time.