Learn Basic Photo Editing

The Ultimate Guide To Using Blend Modes In Photo Editing

By Rach DePaoli | Basic Photo Editing Photo Editor Tutorials

Even if you’ve never heard of Blend Modes, you’ve seen them around. In professional photo editing and graphic design, Blend Modes are frequently used to create unique looks with the different layers of an image or graphic. By blending layers like images, text, graphics, and textures, you’re able to achieve countless different looks with your projects. Just look at the difference between these two images; in the first one, we’ve simply added text to a photo. In the second, we’ve applied a Blend Mode to that same text to make it look overlayed, allowing the photo layer beneath to come through.

blend modes comparison

If you’re a already a little confused by the idea of Blend Modes, we’re about to simplify them for you. We’ll break it down so you know exactly what it means to use a Blend Mode, why they make your images and designs look more professional, and how to access tons of cool Blend Modes in BeFunky. Whether you’re in the Photo Editor, Graphic Designer, or Collage Maker, these babies are just waiting to take your projects to the next level!

What Are Blend Modes?

In photo editing and graphic design, Blend Modes allow you to do just what the name suggests: blend things together. They’re settings that tell two layers how to interact with one another in order to make a single, completed image. And by layers we mean either an image, textbox, graphic, or texture that you place on top of another image or design. Whenever you add a layer onto an image or design, the default Blend Mode is to hide the bottom layer with whatever the top layer may be.

By selecting a new Blend Mode for the top layer (also known as the “active layer”), you can essentially tell it how to blend with the bottom layer. A great example of Blend Modes combining layers is the process of creating double exposure photography. In the photo editing process, you would upload an image, place another image on top as the active layer, and select a Blend Mode to combine the two images into something more interesting. It’s not enough to simply place an image on top of another image (the active layer would end up hiding the first image!) - it’s the Blend Mode that mixes the two together in such a way that it looks purposeful and intriguing.

blend modes for double exposure photography

Blend Modes can also be used when working with other layers, like working with BeFunky's Textures and Effects, or when adding text to photos. By selecting the proper Blend Mode for your text, you can make it look overlayed on top of the image rather than simply placed on top. You can create a huge variety of effects when combining them with a Blend Mode. Check out all these different looks for inspiration: 

Blend Modes are actually more mathematical than they appear to be. Since each pixel in your image and design is assigned a numerical color value, there is actually math that’s happening when you select a Blend Mode. Choosing Add will mathematically add the amount of pixels between the two layers together to create an effect. Choosing Multiply will multiply the amount of pixels between the two layers to get a totally different result. We’ll spare you the mathematical equations here, but just know that each Blend Mode will create a different effect or result when combining your layers. The best method to finding the perfect one is to try them out when you’re working with layers in your photo editing or design sesh.

Different Types of Blend Modes

There are 18 different Blend Modes that you can use when working with layers in BeFunky, and there are several opportunities to adjust them. You’ll find options for Blend Modes in menus like Image Properties, Graphic Properties, Text Properties, and in the Settings Menus when you’re working with Effects and Textures. Each Blend Mode’s dropdown menu will show you all of the different options you’ve got. Since there are so many to choose from, we’ll highlight five of our very favorite: Multiply, Screen, Overlay, Soft Light, and Lighten. We'll be combining these two images to show you what each Blend Mode can do: 

how do blend modes work photo editing


When you want to add contrast and darken your bottom layer, choose Multiply. Multiply combines the highlights and shadows of the top and bottom layer making it a very useful mode. With this mode, you can replace skys and backgrounds when the foreground is darker.

multiply blend mode by BeFunky


When you want to add a brightened and faded look to an image or graphic, this the Screen Blend Mode is your best friend. It is also a great way to add texture to graphics and photos, including dust, scratches, etc. Anything black is going to be invisible when applied and anything light will be visible.

screen blend mode by BeFunky

When using Screen, it’s helpful to apply to layers with texture and flecks of light pixels.


The Overlay Blend Mode is a great one to use when you are looking to add contrast to your image. It allows the active image layer to act as an overlay (much like when you use one from our Overlay tab), letting the base image shine on through.

overlay blend mode by BeFunky

Soft light

Contrary to the Screen blend mode, Soft Light allows you to add a soft fade while also keeping the contrast intact.

soft light blend mode by BeFunky


If the areas of the active layer are lighter than the layer below it, they remain visible. If the areas are darker, then the layer beneath it will show through in the dark areas.

lighten blend mode by BeFunky

The reverse is true when using the Darken blend mode. Anything lighter than black will affect the layers beneath it.

How To Apply A Blend Mode In BeFunky

Like we’ve said before, different Blend Modes will yield different results depending on the layers you’re using. The best way to find the Blend Mode that’s right for your layers is to test them all out. You can use Blend Modes in all three of BeFunky’s Creative Platforms, but we’ll show you how to work with them in the Photo Editor using two image layers. To begin, head to BeFunky’s Photo Editor and upload your bottom image layer by choosing the file from the Open tab, or dragging-and-dropping the image file right into the interface.

how to use blend modes in BeFunky

In the Images/Layers tab, click on the Computer button to upload a photo or image texture as your active layer. Once it uploads, it’ll appear in the Images/Layers tab as a thumbnail. To add it to the base image, simply double click the thumbnail or drag-and-drop it onto your base image. From there, resize the active image layer by clicking and dragging the blue circles around it.

how to create double exposure photo editing in BeFunky

You’ll notice that any time your active layer is selected, an Image Properties toolbar appears. This menu is where your Blend Mode options live. Click on Options in the Image Properties menu and you’ll see the Blend Modes dropdown menu. Clicking through the different blend modes will allow you to see how they’ll look as they blend your image layers together.  

using blend modes in BeFunky

Pro Tip: To further customize your layers, try adjusting other options in the Image Properties menu like Opacity and Color Overlay.

See how blending these two images together using the Multiply Blend Mode creates an intriguing double exposure edit? It looks like a perfect capture of a beach setting under the stars, silhouettes and all. 

double exposure photo editing by BeFunky

Don’t forget that you have the option of using Blend Modes when working with any layer; text, graphics, effects, textures, and beyond! Whether you’re practicing the art of graphic design or editing a photo, using blending modes will help take your project to the next (super professional!) level. They’re perfect for adding unique textures, replacing the background in your photo, creating text overlays, and overall increasing your skill level. Try them all next time you’re working with layers in your projects and be amazed!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified