During the next few weeks, members of Anna’s Creative Team will share ideas for using blend modes on scrapbook pages. I thought that I’d share a quick tip for using a levels adjustment layer and blend modes to change the color of elements, specifically two of the buttons on a page that I created with Anna’s new Tribute Template Album No. 1.

You don’t always need to adjust color with a hue and saturation adjustment layer. In fact, if you only want to darken or lighten an element, the lightness slider in the hue and saturation adjustment panel isn’t the best way to go. I have placed a copy of the original buttons next to the buttons that I adjusted so that you can see the difference made with a quick change in blend mode using a levels adjustment layer.



To add a levels adjustment layer, click on the element layer that needs adjustment. Press the option (alt) key and click on the add adjustment layer icon. Choose levels from the pop up menu. When the dialogue box comes up, check the box that says “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask”. Before clicking ok, select the blend mode that you want to use from the drop down menu. Which blend mode I choose depends on what my element or photo needs. I don’t generally change the opacity until I see the effect of the blend mode on the layer. These steps are the same whether adding a levels adjustment layer to a button or a photo.

On the left side, I wanted to darkenScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.19.02 PM the yellow button to better match the warmer yellows in my photographs. To do that, I clipped a levels adjustment layer to the button and changed the blend mode to multiply and opacity to 50%.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.21.41 PMOn the right side, the tone was close to my granddaughter’s shirt, but by adding another levels adjustment layer, this time on screen blend mode at 50%, I matched the photo color exactly without adding to my file size.


With all the photos on a two page, multi photo spread like this, I like being able to quickly make adjustments to my photos and save file size. I often use levels adjustment layers to lighten and/or add contrast to my photos rather than duplicating the photo layers and changing the blend modes of the new layers. I generally use screen blend mode to lighten photo exposure and soft light or overlay to add contrast to a photo.

This year, I have been wanting to connect the stories of current photos with earlier photos. The photos on these two pages were taken over nine years with at least three different cameras. That can create problems trying to bring unity to a page. I have added at least one levels adjustment layer to all the photos on this layout, once masking out parts of an adjustment layer on multiply blend mode. There’s also an added benefit to using adjustment layers. In addition to being quick and easy, I can always make additional changes to any adjustment layer. Making changes to my photos with levels adjustment layers helped coordinate the different photos on my page without adding to my file size. I hope you’ll try changing blending modes with levels adjustment layers.2016-04-29_ChildrensMuseum