updated on 21 February 2019 | reading time: 12 minutes

Colors, Gradients, Textures

Blending modes

Sometimes you want to make an underlying image to pop-up, make it darker or brighter, apply texture or just vanish some colors completely. You can achieve all of these things with the blending modes in Gravit Designer.

The Core Concepts of the Blending Modes

The core concepts behind the blending mode are very complex. Hopefully, to use them, you don’t need to understand everything, although there are some basics you should know:

  • In Gravit Designer, you can select blending mode for the Fill(2), the Border(3), and the whole object(1) itself. Thus you can access blending modes from different parts of Gravit Designer’s interface.
    Blending modes options in Gravit Designer
    It also means that you can have an infinite number of blending variations coming with each fill or stroke you are applying to the object.
    Multiple blending modes for multiple fields
  • The changes they bring to the images are non-destructive. You can reverse them at any moment by visiting the Blending dropdown.
    Blending modes are non-destructive
  • They are based on the mathematical equations and calculate the color levels of both objects.
    1. The first objects, carrying the original color you want to change is a base color.
    2. The object carrying the blend mode is called a blend color.
    3. The result color is the result of their interaction.
      Blend Color Base Color Result Color Gravit

      Note: As for the all of our examples further in this article, we are using the image of an eye as our base color, the circle with the gradient fill for the blend color, and their intersection as the result color
      Blend mode Examples
  • Most of the blending options have a neutral color – the color that has no effect on the base color. For example, if you are applying Multiply blending mode for white blend color, you would produce no result, because white is the neutral color for the Multiply mode.
    White is neutral for multiply blending mode

Neutral Colors and Blend Mode Groups

Neutral colors come in handy when you want to learn all 30 blending modes available in Gravit Designer because several blend modes with the same neutral colors can be combined into the groups.

  1. Darken group has a neutral color of white. This group unites the Multiply, Darken, Color Burn, and Linear Burn blend modes. The darker the blend color, the stronger the effect of the blend.
  2. Lighten Group has a neutral color of black. This group unites the Screen, Lighten, Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge blend modes. The lighter the blend color, the stronger the effect of the blend.
  3. Contrast Group has a neutral color of 50% grey. This group unites the Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Pin Light, Hard Mix, Difference, and Exclusion. These blend modes compare pixels of the with the mid-tone and darken the darker pixels, lightning the lighter pixels.
  4. Component Group has no neutral color. This group unites Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity blend modes.
  5. Inversion Group has a neutral color of black. This group unites the Difference and Exclusion blend modes.
  6. Cancelation Group unites the Subtract and Divide blend modes, which have opposite neutral colors. The Divide has white and Subtract has black as a neutral color.
Note: In Gravit Designer the blend modes are arranged by popularity rather and are coming, with some exceptions, into the pairs of opposites

Opposite Blend Modes

Each blend mode from the Darken group has the opposite from the Lighten group.

Inside the Blend dropdown, these pairs of opposites are going together.

Pair of opposite blending modes

These pairs are doing the same calculations, but with the opposite result. So both Multiply and Screen are multiplying the pixels, but first multiplies dark ones and the second multiplies the light ones.

Each Blend Mode Explained

Multiply Blend Mode

Formula: Base x Blend

The multiply blend mode multiplies the luminance levels of the blend and base color pixels. Result color is always darker.

Multiply blending mode

Because white has a luminosity of 1, it has no effect on the pixels of the base color. Black has a luminosity of 0, so the result color would always be 0.

Multiply by black and white colors

Tip: The Multiply Blend Mode is useful for creating shadows

Screen Blend Mode

Formula: 1 – ( 1-Base ) x ( 1-Blend )

The screen blend mode multiplies the reverse values of the luminosity of the blend and base colors. Then it subtracts the product from the luminosity of white, which is one. It is opposite to the Multiply mode, so the brighter blend color, the brighter the result color would be.

Screen blend mode example

Black has no effect on the base color.

Tip: Along with the Multiply Blend mode, the Screen mode is one of the most popular blend modes in graphic design and photo manipulations. It is a perfect choice for highlights.

Overlay Blend Mode

The overlay blend mode boosts the contrast of the base image. Takes 50% of the grey as the threshold. If the pixels are brighter than 50%, it will brighten them even more and it would multiply the darker pixels.

Overlay blend mode example

Darken Blend Mode

The darken blend mode doesn’t blend colors. It makes a selection of the darkest pixels from both images, picking either base or blend colors.

Darken blend mode example

Lighten Blend Mode

The lighten blend mode is looking for the brighter pixels in both colors. If the pixels of the base color is darker than of those in the blend color, they would be replaced. Thus, it would vanish the darker pixels.

Lighten blend modes

The result color is always lighter, but bear in mind that selection and comparison of the pixels has a per-channel basis, so pixels would be selected for each RGB-channel separately.

Color Dodge Blend Mode

Formula: Blend / ( 1 – Base )

The color dodge blend mode blows the bright pixels of the base color while for the dark pixels the result would be very moderate. The end result would be higher contrast.

Color dodge example

Color Burn Blend Mode

Formula: 1 – ( 1 – Blend ) / Base

The color burn divides the inverted blend color luminosity by the luminosity of the base color. Then it inverts the result. The darker the base color, the more it is used into the result color.

The result color is always darker with more contrast between light and dark pixels.

Color Burn Example

Hard Light Blend Mode

The hard light blend mode uses color dodge formula for bright pixels and color burn formula for darker pixels, boosting the contrast between them. Both formulas are at half straight.

Hard light blend mode example

Soft Light Blend Mode

The soft light blend mode applies screen blend mode formula for pixels that are brighter than 50% grey and multiplies the pixels that are darker.

Both formulas are used in the half straight, resulting in more soft and organic fusion.

Soft light blend mode

Tip: Use the soft light blend mode to introduce the diffuse spotlight to the image.

Difference Blend Mode

Formula: Brightest pixels – Darkest pixels.

The Difference blend mode subtracts the darker pixels from the lighter. So it is looking for the brighter pixels in both blend and base colors and produces the subtraction then.

Difference blend mode example

The black color doesn’t have any impact on the color: Color – 0.

White makes 100% inversion of the color: 1 – Color

Exclusion Blend Mode

Formula: Brightest pixels – Darkest pixels.

The exclusion blend mode is a bit bizarre. It uses the difference blend mode math equation, but it ignores the results close to the zero, rendering them into the mid tones as if the result is 0.5. For similar colors, it produces grey instead of black. So result color is similar to those in difference blend mode but less saturated.

Exclusion blend mode example

Note: To explain the math behind these blend modes, let’s take a look at this example.
Luminosity: base color = 0.451, blend color = 0.450
Difference blend mode: 0.451 – 0.450 = 0.001. The result color is black
Exclusion blend mode: 0.451 – 0.450=0.001 =~ 0.5. The result is grey.

Hue Blend Mode

The hue blend mode creates a result color with a hue of the blend layer and luminance and saturation of the base color.

This is what we call “true recoloring” since the only hue is changed.

Hue blend mode example

Saturation Blend Mode

The saturation blend mode gets the saturation from the blend color, hue and luminosity – from the base color.

Saturation blend mode example


Tip: The saturation blend mode is good for greyscale effect, just use the blend color with a saturation value of 0, black or white for example

Color Blend Mode

The color blend mode borrows the hue and saturation from the blend color and luminosity from the base.

Color blend mode example


Tip: the color blend mode is an excellent choice for coloring monochromatic images or tinting color images.

Luminosity Blend Mode

The luminosity blend mode borrows the luminosity from the blend color and hue with saturation from the base color.

Luminosity blend mode example

Linear Burn Blend Mode

Formula: Base + Blend – 1

The linear burn blend mode subtracts the luminosity of white from the sum of the luminosity of the base and the luminosity of the blend color.

The result color is always darker than the base color, except you are using white for the blend color.

The linear burn is darker than color burn and multiply blend modes with low contrast and saturation because most of the negative and low values are rendered to black.

Linear burn blend mode example

Linear Dodge Blend Mode

Formula: Base + Blend

The linear dodge blend mode sums of the luminosities of both colors. Obviously, for the bright colors, this sum might exceed 1, so it would be rendered into the white.

The result color is usually very bright, has low saturation and contrast.

Liner dodge blend mode example

Linear Light Blend Mode

The linear light blend mode uses the linear dodge mode formula for pixels that are brighter than 50% grey, and the linear burn formula for darker pixels. Both equations are used in half straight.

The selections and calculations are based on the luminosity of the blend color.

Linear light blend mode example

Vivid Light Blend Mode

The vivid light blend mode uses a combination of the color burn for darker pixels and color dodge for lighter pixels.

The vivid light selects pixels to burn or dodge based on the luminosity of pixels of the blend color. If pixels are lighter than 50% grey, it dodges them, if they are darker – it burns them. Both equations are applied in the half of the straight.

Vivid light blend mode example

Pin Light Blend Mode

The pin light blend mode can darken or lighten images depending on the luminosity of the blend color.

If the luminosity of the blend color is more than 50% grey, it applies lighten blend mode’s algorithm and replaces all the darker pixels of the base color by corresponding pixels of the blend color.

If the luminosity of the blend color is less than 50%, it applies darken blend mode’s algorithm, so it drops all light pixels of the base color in favor of the corresponding pixels of the blend color.

Pin light blend mode example

Note: The pin light blend mode is a good choice for textures and special effects. Since you are in control of the luminosity of the blend color you can choose what is going to happen with the base color.
Pin light special effects

Divide Blend Mode

Formula: Blend / Base

The divide blend mode divides luminosity of the pixels of the blend color by the luminosity of the corresponding pixels of the base color.

Gives an extreme spotlight effect, lightens the blend color dramatically producing near the white result color.

Divide blend mode example

Add Blend Mode

Formula: Base + Blend

The add blend mode sums up the luminosity values of both colors, resulting in the lighter color. Because the result color is always brighter, add blend mode is usually referred as “plus light” mode.

Add blend mode example

Subtract Blend Mode

Formula: Blend – Base

The subtract blend mode subtracts pixel values of the base color from the corresponding values of the blend color. if the values are negative, the black is displayed. Result color is always darker.

Subtract blend mode example

Hard Mix Blend Mode

The hard mix blend mode uses only eight colors to render a result color: red, green, magenta, blue, cyan, black and white.

It goes through all RGB channels of the blend and base colors, rounding the values of the luminosity either to 1 or 0:

  • lightens the light pixels to white
  • darkens the dark pixels to  black

Then it turns all the 8 channels into the composite channel and scatters eight colors according to the composite channel luminosity values.

Hard mix blend mode example

Note: Lowering the fill opacity of the blend color brings up more colors and eliminates the posterization
Hard mix fill opacity example
The blend modes that change the way how they work depending on the Fill Opacity are called “Special 8”.

Unique Blend Modes

There three unique blend modes, that only Gravit Designer has. Oppose to the more conventional one, they are base on more eloquent math equations, such as quadratic or harmonic mean.

Power Blend Mode 

Formula: √ ( Base² + Blend² ) / 2

The power blend mode uses quadratic mean to blend colors. It is useful if you want the result color to be equally distant from the base and the blend colors.

It diesn’t have neutral colors. A black color makes image darker, white always makes image brighter.

Harmonic Blend Mode

Harmonic blend mode example

Formula: 2 / ( 1/Base + 1/Blend )

The harmonic blend mode uses harmonic mean to blend colors. In this equation two is divided by the sum of reciprocal values of blend and base colors.

Doesn’t have neutral colors. White makes things whiter, black doesn’t produce a blend because you cannot divide by zero.

Less agressive than the power blend mode , it can be used to add a subtle accent of the one color over the other.

Sine Blend Mode

Formula: sin( Blend + Base ) x π/2

Sine blend mode example

The first blend mode to use the trigonometric function for blending colors. The sine blend mode is a sine of the sum of the blend and base colors, divided by two and multiplied by π (3.141828….).

The result color is very unique and  can be use for special effects.

Black makes base color to appear brighter, white invertes the base color.

Sine black and white colors example

The “Special 8” Blend Modes

There are eight blend modes that would respond differently to 40% of the Opacity and 40% of the Fill Opacity.

This special group of blending modes, that reacts differently on the Fill Opacity is called “Special Eight“. It extends your capabilities when dealing with these blend modes giving you more creative space to explore. So this “Special 8” universe of blending modes includes:

  • Color Burn
  • Linear Burn
  • Color Dodge
  • Linear Dodge (Add)
  • Vivid Light
  • Linear Light
  • Hard Mix
  • Difference

For these blend modes, you can play with Fill Opacity of the blend color and see how it changes the result color. Start right now, explore with Gravit Designer!