You can use the blending effects associated with layers to combine channels within and between images into new images. You can use either the Apply Image command (on single and composite channels) or the Calculations command (on single channels). These commands offer two additional blending modes not available in the Layers panel—Add and Subtract. Although it’s possible to create new combinations of channels by copying channels to layers in the Layers panel, you may find it quicker to use the calculation commands to blend channel information.
The calculation commands perform mathematical operations on the corresponding pixels of two channels (the pixels with identical locations in the image) and then combine the results in a single channel. Two concepts are fundamental to understanding how the calculation commands work:
Each pixel in a channel has a brightness value. The Calculations and Apply Image commands manipulate these values to produce the resulting composite pixels.
These commands overlay the pixels in two or more channels. Thus, the images used for calculations must have the same pixel dimensions.
The Apply Image command lets you blend one image’s layer and channel (the source) with a layer and channel of the active image (the destination).
If the color modes of the two images differ (for example, one image is RGB and the other is CMYK), you can apply a single channel (but not the source’s composite) to the destination layer’s composite channel.
The Calculations command lets you blend two individual channels from one or more source images. You can then apply the results to a new image or to a new channel or selection in the active image. You cannot apply the Calculations command to composite channels.
If you are using more than one source image, the images must have the same pixel dimensions.
The Add and Subtract blending modes are available only for the Apply Image and Calculations commands.
Adds the pixel values in two channels. This is a good way to combine non-overlapping images in two channels.
Because higher pixel values represent lighter colors, adding channels with overlapping pixels lightens the image. Black areas in both channels remain black (0 + 0 = 0). White in either channel results in white (255 + any value = 255 or greater).
Add mode divides the sum of the pixel values by the Scale amount, and then adds the Offset value to the sum. For example, to find the average of the pixels in two channels, add them, divide by 2, and enter no Offset value.
The Scale factor may be any number between 1.000 and 2.000. Entering a higher Scale value darkens the image.
The Offset value lets you lighten or darken the pixels in the destination channel by any brightness value between +255 and –255. Negative values darken the image; positive values lighten the image.
Subtracts the pixel values in the source channel from the corresponding pixels in the target channel. As with Add mode, the result is then divided by the Scale factor and added to the Offset value.
The Scale factor may be any number between 1.000 and 2.000. The Offset value lets you lighten or darken the pixels in the destination channel by any brightness value between +255 and –255.