Painting with blending modes

Blending ... whaat? In digital-painting, you can paint with 'blending modes' applied on your brush. In short ; a blending mode is a math formula telling your software how to mix two colors : the ones on your canvas and the one on your brush. Knowing a set of useful blending modes can assist and ease your work for painting specific rendering.

Goal : This video tutorial ( on top ) aims to offer to the digital-painter pratical tips to use blending-modes on his brushes. I'll not show all the blending-mode as other tutorials do. I'll not perform here a cold listing of all blending modes as I saw on other tutorials. I'll also not show formulas and math : it's a painting tutorial. I'll aslo keep the list minimal with five one.

Where I can find it ? In Krita 2.9, the blending modes applied to your active brush is displayed on a button in the top toolbar. The default one is named 'Normal' , press this button and you'll get a list. This list contains favorites on top, and subcategories to unfold under. Each blending modes in the subcategories can join the top favorite list by checking the checkbox next to them.

Short summary :

Color dodge

Light, glows, coronas, lazers, neons ; this is the blending mode I use to manage all my light effect. It has advantage of a stronger saturation and contrast over other brightening blending mode (Linear Dodge, Addition, Screen).
In Krita : Lighten > Color dodge


Contrast, vivid, boost colors here is my primary usage of my favorite blending mode : Overlay. Overlay is a conditionnal blending mode : it combine two blending mode in one. If you select a grey 50% ; it will do nothing. But over , and under this grey , Overlay will switch to a brightening or a darkening blending mode. Painting wih dark tones will intensify and vivid the area. It can be used also to boost colors and give an object the first role in your composition. Overlay is also known for it's conveniency on layer to 'overlay' a texture, or a pattern over a surface. 'Soft Light' is a more subtle variation of 'Overlay'.
In Krita : Mix > Overlay
Note: fun bug in Gimp since 10 years, 'overlay' is similar to 'Soft light'

[edit 12/2015 : It was finally fixed this month in Gimp 2.9! yay! ]


Lighten is a comparative blending mode. Lighten will paint only if the value on the canvas is darker than the value on your brush. This propriety help me to shift values in the distance, and split different grounds on my artwork.
In Krita : Lighten > Lighten


Changing the color is the obvious mission of the blendings modes 'colors'. I use the color blending mode to do a first pass of colorization over my grisaille. The result is often dull, and greish, but that's easy to fix with another pass of the overlay blending mode. I also use Color (HSY) with grey to desaturate zone, or do hue corrections.
In Krita : HSY > Color and HSL > Color HSL


Shadows, stains, dirt, glazing, it's one of the king of the blending mode in digital-painting, the darkening-only one ; Multiply. White is equal to full transparency with multiply.
You can draw with this one on the surface of a shaded object, glaze skin shading to inject a bit of blood under the skin, add dirt or paint big casted shadows.


  jGatsu - Reply

Your tutorials, tips & tricks are always so helpful. Thank you very much for the effort and keep it up! :D

  Random dude - Reply

Awesome as always. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  j-rocky - Reply

Nice tips for digital painting, it's basic jutsu actually :)

  André - Reply

Hi David,

thank for your tutorials. Can you please give us an update which system you are running now? Is it Linux Mint or something else?

best regards

  David REVOY OP , - Reply


@André : I'm still on Linux Mint 17 since December 2014 ; probably first time I keep so long the same system. I made the update to 17.1 with the built-in updater , then the 17.2 , very cool to get new options from Cinnamon while keeping a stable base. I tried a jump to Antergos on the laptop in Avril ; then Arch Linux , but many packages were hard to configure or post-install ( a simple LAMP stack with systemD, or RabbitCVS for GIT in Nemo in AUR only and half functional ; and breakage , update that breaks system each 10 days. ). I'll probably test Fedora soon on laptop.

  Morten Telling - Reply

Hi David

Your tutorials are really helpfull. It is so hard to get into digital painting and there is so many ways to do things.
I fully understand your french english - and I´m a dane and very bad to understand french ;-) So keep up making these nice tutorials in english, please. And actually your speak/voice-over is not bad at all. You are very informative and instructive and it all makes sense. I have seen a lot of tutorials whcih was too quick and smart and not instructive at all. So keep up the good work!


  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Morten Telling : Hey, thanks for your support :-)
Sorry for late reply, thank you for the feedback on my english voice-over ; I'm always worrying a lot about it and it helps a lot.

  Manny Cerilles - Reply

This is really good.

  Richard L. Morgan - Reply

I realize that saying great job to you is ok but is not exactly offering anything other than enthusiasm. Let's all admit that on occasion, even if we are the best at what we do such as a Monsieur David Revoy, a little enthusiasm can make a long day a bit easier. :-)

Your tutorials are very, very good. The things I like best are things I know you will continue but which some others seem to simply forget over time; perhaps it is simply too much familiarity with the subject but for someone searching for the skill, they NEED the added depth,

1) Your speaking voice is superb except for when I am really tired and it kind of tries to lull me into a kind of artistic trance. That is a compliment, not a complaint! Your English is easy for this, granted native English speaker, but hearing impaired person to understand easily. I simply like your voice style and I doubt you will ever change it as it is so consistent. The beauty is that you actually show energy when showing a technique instead of a monotone "lets get this over" type of approach; very appealing and VERY helpful.

2) Technique treatment depth is critical. Too many tutorial makers assume far too much, again probably because of familiarity with the material, but taking a shallow approach can lead a new person into early mistakes or habits that can be hard to reverse later on as their development deepens.

3) As you note often, new people can simply get lost in all the settings and options available and that really takes away from the lesson. I had a specific reason for coming to this page and before even watching the video, your synopsis below gave me most of what I was looking for in text. The reason I emphasize this is that I often teach rather difficult mathematical concepts and one thing I have found over almost 40 years of tutoring is that people learn in different ways. Offering the information in a format such as this can be so very helpful. I found the parts I really wanted to focus on in the text and why they are important to you which was VERY helpful. It allowed me to enter the video better prepared for the subject, again, for me anyway, this was a wonderful approach.

PLEASE keep doing tutorials. I know my own biases and I have learned to both work around them and with them. When I see a tutorial from you I am able to make an assumption of high level of teaching ability and in depth coverage of the subject, even if the video is shorter. You simply do a great job and you have helped me tremendously to make a huge leap forward, especially with Krita.

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Richard L. Morgan : Hey Richard, many thanks for taking the time to describe a detailed feedback about my video/tutorials. Working over internet as I do is often like throwing message-in-a-bottles on the sea, and never know if they reach destination. I also prefer the text format. I try with the video to use the ' video media' as a way to compress many information and demonstration in a short time. 5 to 10min to compress 1h or 2h of a usual 'course in a room'. It's because I know they can be watch twice ; paused , etc... On my side, I learnt on a internet of text and small pictures. Text is easier to 'work-on-it' side by side or in background of making a new artwork. I'll do my best to keep doing tutorials ! Thanks again!

  Jose Navas - Reply

Thanks or putting a lot of effort in this videos, really appreciated that you use your voice to explain the concepts better :)

  Taposy Rabeya - Reply

Awesome video. Give me a lot of inspirations. Thanks........

  Morten Telling - Reply

Hi David

I´m still getting to learn Krita - I am used to use Photoshop and Clip Paint (Mange Studio 5), but I always got back to Krita. It is faster and so flexible and I like the fact it is open source. I just want to thank you for all your hard work with making these tutorials. Please do continue doing it - I´m a big fan of your art work too! You are very talented - and it is a pleasure to watch both your tutorials and your artwork. i support you as a Patreon ;-) Keep up the good work - you are such an inspiration!

  Zang - Reply

Thank you so muchh David... !!!!!

  stephane b34 - Reply

Merci beaucoup pour ce tutorial...!!! J' y reviens régulièrement, même si je n' utilise pas/plus vraiment krita (j' essaye de gribouiller sur clip studio paint) cause un PC qui date et qui rame...
Tuto très utile pour moi qui ai du mal à appréhender le monde de la couleur et de ses subtilités, sans parler de sa mise en application!
Encore merci pour ces trucs et techniques que l' on ne peut découvrir soi-même et qui sont valables pour bien des logiciels de painting.
PS: Mon anglais écrit est pitoyable, à l' oreille ça va mieux, et ton/votre accent "so frenchy" est parfaitement compréhensible (dans les grandes lignes pour moi)

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

Un grand merci ! Je suis content de voir que le contenu du tuto fonctionne sur d'autres app :-)

  stephane b34 - Reply

Un grand merci à toi! :-) Pour la réponse et pour le tuto...
Çà marche effectivement pour clip studio paint ,même si je trouve que l' efficacité n' est pas aussi top que sur krita (peut être est ce moi qui n' est pas compris toutes les subtilités?), et ça m' a permit de faire des peintures que je juge acceptable! ;-)
MERCI encore!!!

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