An in-depth guide to how to create artistic metallic effects using Photoshop's blending modes. Part two – Tarnished Silver.

Tarnished Silver

Interesting things happen when you apply the Difference blending mode to an inverted copy of the base layer. Because Inversion turns white into black – Difference’s neutral colour – it leaves highlights and midtones unaffected, but reverses the shadows. This recipe takes advantage of these strange reversals.

1. In the Layers palette, duplicate the original image layer by dragging the background layer onto the “Create a new layer” icon, or use Ctrl/Cmd-J.

2. Using the pull-down blending mode menu in the Layers palette or the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-E, change the duplicate layer’s blending mode to Difference and rename it “Difference”.

3. Invert the Difference layer using Ctrl/Cmd-I.

4. Using Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, add some blur to the Difference layer. Any radius can be used – start with a low value such as 5 and add more later if necessary.

5. Duplicate the Difference layer using Ctrl/Cmd-J.

6. In the Layers palette, use Ctrl/Cmd-J to duplicate the original image layer, move this new layer to the top of the layer stack, and change its blending mode to Pin Light using the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-Z. Name the layer “Pin Light”. Invert the Pin Light layer using Ctrl/Cmd-I.

7. In the Layers palette, make another copy of the original image layer, drag it to the top of the layer stack, and change its blending mode to Exclusion using the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-X.

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