Why soft light is our favorite blending mode
Last updated on 2018/8/2

In this tutorial, you'll learn the power of the blending modes in Polarr. The soft light blending mode is the one we'll be spending a lot of time on too since it's one of our favorites. Let's do this!

Tutorial

The first step should be obvious, but go ahead and open the image in Polarr anyways.

Next, we'll go to the overlay tool and select gradients. Select whichever gradient you like and notice how the color of the screen changes to reflect that selection. The default blending mode is soft light.

To better understand the soft light blending mode, we'll delete one of the points on our gradient. Notice how by default there are two points in the gradient? Go ahead and delete one.

With a point deleted, we've essentially added a solid color layer to the photo. You can see how the entire image is now impacted by just one color and not two as we had when we first selected our gradient. You can change the color by tapping on the point and picking any color you want.

Now you know how to add a single color to the whole image. Next, we'll take a look at the effects of the soft light blending mode by adding different colors to the photo.

Brightness

Here's the photo.

Add a solid black layer, then change the blending mode to soft light.

As you can see, this time the picture is a lot darker than the original. Which means that if we add a layer with a lower brightness and then apply a soft light blending mode it will darken the overall image.

What do you think will happen if we add a pure white layer and change the blending mode to soft light?

You can see that this time the picture is obviously brighter than the original image. That is, if we add a layer of higher brightness, then change the blending mode to soft light it will make the original image brighter.

What happens when we add a neutral gray and change the blending mode to soft light?

As you can see, there is no change in the brightness of the image. Which means that if the color brightness of the layer we're adding is in the middle, it won't affect the brightness of the original image.

In summary, adding a solid layer that's white and changing the blending mode to soft light will brighten the overall image. While adding a black solid layer will darken the image. And a neutral gray won't change the brightness of the image.

Color

So now that you understand the effects of brightness and soft light blending mode, let's take a look at how the color can change the image. We'll start by adding a color red layer and changing the blending mode to soft light.

As you can see, the original black-and-white photo is now rendered on a distinct layer of red. The same thing happens when a cyan layer is added.

Clearly, the original image is rendered on the cyan layer. Change it to yellow and the same thing happens.

We find that creating a new solid color layer and changing the blending mode to soft light will impact our fill color. Even if the image is black-and-white to start.

Brightness and color

Now let's combine the two from above: brightness and colors. For example, if we want to improve the brightness of the original image while changing the color, we can choose a lighter color to affect the image.

On the other hand, we can reduce the brightness of the original image and change its color by adding a layer with a dark color.

Don't want to change the brightness, but do want to change the color of an image? Just select and add a layer with a color that's in the middle.

A quick note about the color board. The rightmost vertical bar indicates hue. And the left square is for brightness and saturation. Sliding left to right will increase the saturation of the color. While sliding down up will change the brightness. Up making it lighter and down darker.