Photoshop’s Linear Burn

    Corrie Haffly
    Corrie Haffly
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    Photoshop’s Linear Burn blending mode results in an effect similar to Multiply Mode, where lighter areas in the blend layer allow the bottom layers to “show through,” but is a little different in that it actually darkens the bottom layer’s colors. Here’s the official description:

    Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the brightness. Blending with white produces no change.

    Sounds almost identical to the Color Burn description, except that instead of “increasing the contrast,” Linear Burn “decreases the brightness” and darkens the base layer(s). In fact, unless you have a completely white area on the blend layer, the base layer will always be darkened; using linear burn will always result in a darker picture.

    For example, starting with this picture of a rose:

    Duplicating the layer and setting the top layer to Linear Burn results in an overall darker picture, although the darker areas are “more dark.”

    Now for the practical application. I’ll start with these two (cropped) images that I downloaded for a few cents each at istockphoto.com:

    Putting the leaf layer on top, I set it to Linear Burn, and this is what I get:

    Contrast this to Multiply mode:

    The Linear Burn example is slightly darker — linear burn tends to give you more “blacks” than multiply mode would. Either effect is useful… for me, it just comes down to what “mood” I’m in that day!

    Download example .psd file.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Photoshop’s Linear Burn

    What is the Linear Burn blending mode in Photoshop?

    The Linear Burn blending mode in Photoshop is a powerful tool that can be used to create a variety of effects. It works by darkening the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast. This results in a darker and more saturated image. It’s particularly useful when you want to add depth and dimension to your images, or when you’re working with multiple layers and want to create a cohesive, blended look.

    How does Linear Burn differ from other blending modes?

    Unlike other blending modes, Linear Burn decreases the brightness of the base color based on the value of the blend color. The darker the blend color, the more the base color is darkened. This is different from modes like Multiply, which simply multiplies the base color by the blend color, or Screen, which inverts both colors, multiplies them, and then inverts the result.

    When should I use the Linear Burn blending mode?

    The Linear Burn blending mode is ideal for adding shadows and depth to an image. It’s also great for creating rich, deep colors and contrast. It can be used in a variety of scenarios, such as photo editing, graphic design, and digital painting.

    Can I adjust the intensity of the Linear Burn effect?

    Yes, you can adjust the intensity of the Linear Burn effect by changing the opacity of the layer. A lower opacity will result in a less intense effect, while a higher opacity will produce a stronger effect.

    Why isn’t my Linear Burn effect working?

    If your Linear Burn effect isn’t working, it could be due to a few reasons. First, make sure you’ve selected the correct layer. Second, check that your blend color isn’t too light. Remember, the darker the blend color, the more the base color will be darkened.

    How does Linear Burn compare to Linear Dodge?

    While Linear Burn darkens the base color based on the blend color, Linear Dodge does the opposite – it lightens the base color based on the blend color. The result is a brighter, less saturated image.

    Can I use Linear Burn with other blending modes?

    Yes, you can use Linear Burn in conjunction with other blending modes to create a variety of effects. For example, you might use Linear Burn to add depth and then use Screen to lighten certain areas.

    How can I use Linear Burn to improve my photo editing?

    Linear Burn can be used to add depth and dimension to your photos. It can help to bring out details, enhance contrast, and create a more dynamic image. Experiment with different blend colors and opacities to see what works best for your image.

    What are some tips for using Linear Burn effectively?

    To use Linear Burn effectively, start with a darker blend color and adjust as needed. Remember, the darker the blend color, the more the base color will be darkened. Also, try adjusting the opacity of the layer to control the intensity of the effect.

    Can I use Linear Burn in other Adobe applications?

    Yes, the Linear Burn blending mode is available in several Adobe applications, including Illustrator and After Effects. The process for using it is similar to Photoshop – simply select the layer you want to apply the effect to, then choose Linear Burn from the blending mode menu.