Saturation Blend Mode in Photoshop

    Corrie Haffly
    Corrie Haffly
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    We’re in the home stretch of the Photoshop Blending Modes series (good heavens, that means I have to come up with more topics to write about!), and today’s blog looks at the Saturation Blend Mode.

    Recall how the Hue blending mode kept everything the same on the base layers, but applied the hue (color) from the blend layer. Saturation mode is similar, where everything stays the same on the base layer, except the saturation from the blend layer is applied.

    Try this example on for size: Start with my cherry blossom picture —

    Add this blend layer, which has a highly-saturated blue and a not-very-saturated blue:

    Setting the blend layer to Saturation mode produces this effect:

    As expected, the top half (the light, not-very-saturated blue) results in a less-saturated flower image, while the bottom half is very saturated.

    Now for a practical application. I’ll start with my standard rose image and then add a radial gradient to produce this blend layer, using a not-very-saturated color:

    (To do this, I had to open the Gradient Editor by clicking on the gradient preview in the top toolbar, and make a new gradient from the foreground-to-transparent gradient, then flip the sliders that defined the gradients to make a transparent-to-foreground gradient.)

    Combining the radial gradient blend layer (set to Saturation mode) results in this image:

    It kind of reminds me of a “breathing life into something” kind of image, maybe representing some kind of “inner life” or “inner glow.” I’m sure you can find your own use for this technique…

    (Download the sample. psd file)

    Frequently Asked Questions about Saturation Blend Mode in Photoshop

    What is the primary function of the Saturation Blend Mode in Photoshop?

    The Saturation Blend Mode in Photoshop is a powerful tool that allows you to adjust the intensity of colors in your image. It works by replacing the saturation of the base color with the saturation of the blend color while retaining the hue and luminosity of the base color. This mode is particularly useful when you want to enhance or tone down the vibrancy of colors in your image without affecting other aspects of the color.

    How does the Saturation Blend Mode differ from other blend modes in Photoshop?

    Unlike other blend modes in Photoshop, the Saturation Blend Mode specifically targets the saturation of colors. While other blend modes may affect the hue, brightness, or contrast of an image, the Saturation Blend Mode solely focuses on the intensity of colors. This makes it a great tool for color correction and enhancement.

    Can I use the Saturation Blend Mode for black and white images?

    Yes, you can use the Saturation Blend Mode on black and white images. However, since black and white images lack color, the effect will be minimal. The Saturation Blend Mode is most effective on colored images where it can significantly alter the intensity of colors.

    How can I use the Saturation Blend Mode to enhance the colors in my image?

    To enhance the colors in your image using the Saturation Blend Mode, you first need to create a new layer and fill it with a color of your choice. Then, set the blend mode of this layer to Saturation. The colors in your image will now reflect the saturation of the color you chose for the new layer.

    What happens if I use the Saturation Blend Mode with a grayscale color?

    If you use the Saturation Blend Mode with a grayscale color, the result will be a grayscale image. This is because grayscale colors have no saturation, so when you apply the Saturation Blend Mode, it replaces the saturation of the base color with the saturation of the grayscale color, which is zero.

    Can I use the Saturation Blend Mode to desaturate colors?

    Yes, you can use the Saturation Blend Mode to desaturate colors. To do this, create a new layer and fill it with a grayscale color. Then, set the blend mode of this layer to Saturation. The colors in your image will now reflect the saturation of the grayscale color, effectively desaturating the image.

    How does the Saturation Blend Mode affect the hue and luminosity of colors?

    The Saturation Blend Mode does not affect the hue and luminosity of colors. It only changes the saturation, or intensity, of colors. The hue and luminosity of the base color are retained.

    Can I adjust the intensity of the Saturation Blend Mode?

    Yes, you can adjust the intensity of the Saturation Blend Mode by changing the opacity of the blend layer. A lower opacity will result in a less intense effect, while a higher opacity will result in a more intense effect.

    What is the difference between the Saturation Blend Mode and the Hue Blend Mode?

    The Saturation Blend Mode and the Hue Blend Mode both affect the color of an image, but in different ways. The Saturation Blend Mode changes the intensity of colors, while the Hue Blend Mode changes the actual color itself.

    Can I use the Saturation Blend Mode in combination with other blend modes?

    Yes, you can use the Saturation Blend Mode in combination with other blend modes for more complex and creative effects. However, keep in mind that the order in which you apply the blend modes can affect the final result.