Art Journal Challenge #2: Backgrounds & Blending

Many physical art journalers have difficulty dealing with the blank page and so they will often pre-paint or create backgrounds in advance so when they feel like journaling they’re not faced with a blank page. We’re lucky that we have many beautiful pre-made backgrounds available to us, however, it is useful to know some of the tricks we can use to create or customise backgrounds to our needs.

In Photoshop and Photoshop Elements we have blending modes available to us that can produce wonderful and sometimes unpredictable effects. (Sorry, I’m not familiar with other software and any equivalents they may have). I find it very hard to intellectualise and remember what each mode does and tend to just scroll through until I find a look I like.

There is a tutorial here that has demonstration images showing the effect of the various modes.

In my version (CS6) the modes are grouped in sets that work in a similar way. (This may vary in other versions & PSE)

Normal – no blending
Dissolve – turns the semi-transparent pixels into dots
Darken Blend Modes: Darken, Multiply, Colour Burn, Linear Burn & Darker Colour – white has no effect on the blend and white parts disappear.
Lighten Blend Modes: Lighten, Screen, Colour Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add) & Lighter Colour – in most of these black has no effect and disappears.
Lighting (Contrast) Blend Modes: Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, Pin Light & Hard Mix – change the contrast of an image using both lightening and darkening. 50% grey disappears.
Comparative Blend Modes: Difference, Exclusion, Subtract (similar to linear burn) & Divide (similar to colour dodge) – the first two can produce some very ‚interesting’ results – black has no effect.
Hue Blend Modes: Hue, Saturation, Colour, Luminosity – change or intensify colours.

Those using Photoshop also have extra options to control blending. These are found from the menu Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options OR double click the layer thumbnail in the layers palette. There are two ‚Blend If’ Sliders at the bottom of the dialogue that pops up. Adjusting these allows you to hide different parts (the blacks or the whites) of the image.

Don’t forget you can always use opacity changes to refine the look you want too.

I used 4 different images (you can use anything – overlays, textures, backgrounds, photos) to create a new background. This images shows the layers and their blend modes.


The full background can be seen here:

– Create an Art Journal Layout in which you blend together a minimum of two backgrounds/textures/overlays to create a unique background for your page. (I expect to see a complete layout not just a background)
– No rules. No Pressure. Just Play.

DUE DATE: Jan 18
GALLERY: Art Journal Challenge Gallery
Please use appropriate credits for any products you use.
POSTING BONUS: Everyone that completes this challenge will receive this set of stamps from Mamrotka Designs. Thanks Marzena.

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