Specify how colors blend

Blend the colors between two overlapping objects by using blending modes. Blending modes let you vary the ways in which the colors of stacked objects blend.

  1. Select one or more objects or a group.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • In the Effects panel, choose a blending mode, such as Normal or Overlay, from the menu.

    • In the Transparency area of the Effects dialog box, choose a blending mode from the menu.

Blending mode options

The blending modes control how the base color, the underlying color in the artwork, interacts with the blend color, the color of the selected object or group of objects. The resulting color is the color resulting from the blend.

Normal

Colors the selection with the blend color, without interaction with the base color. This is the default mode.

Multiply

Multiplies the base color by the blend color. The resulting color is always a darker color. Multiplying any color with black produces black. Multiplying any color with white leaves the color unchanged. The effect is similar to drawing on a page with multiple magic markers.

Screen

Multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors. The resulting color is always a lighter color. Screening with black leaves the color unchanged. Screening with white produces white. The effect is similar to projecting multiple slide images on top of each other.

Overlay

Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the base color. Patterns or colors overlay the existing artwork, preserving the highlights and shadows of the base color while mixing in the blend color to reflect the lightness or darkness of the original color.

Soft Light

Darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the artwork.

If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the artwork is lightened, as if it were dodged. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the artwork is darkened, as if it were burned in. Painting with pure black or white produces a distinctly darker or lighter area, but does not result in pure black or white.

Hard Light

Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the artwork.

If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the artwork is lightened, as if it were screened. This is useful for adding highlights to artwork. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the artwork is darkened, as if it were multiplied. This is useful for adding shadows to artwork. Painting with pure black or white results in pure black or white.

Color Dodge

Brightens the base color to reflect the blend color. Blending with black produces no change.

Color Burn

Darkens the base color to reflect the blend color. Blending with white produces no change.

Darken

Selects the base or blend color—whichever is darker—as the resulting color. Areas lighter than the blend color are replaced, and areas darker than the blend color do not change.

Lighten

Selects the base or blend color—whichever is lighter—as the resulting color. Areas darker than the blend color are replaced, and areas lighter than the blend color do not change.

Difference

Subtracts either the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the greater brightness value. Blending with white inverts the base color values; blending with black produces no change.

Exclusion

Creates an effect similar to, but lower in contrast than, the Difference mode. Blending with white inverts the base color components. Blending with black produces no change.

Hue

Creates a color with the luminance and saturation of the base color and the hue of the blend color.

Saturation

Creates a color with the luminance and hue of the base color and the saturation of the blend color. Painting with this mode in an area with no saturation (gray) produces no change.

Color

Creates a color with the luminance of the base color and the hue and saturation of the blend color. This preserves the gray levels in the artwork, and is useful for coloring monochrome artwork and for tinting color artwork.

Luminosity

Creates a color with the hue and saturation of the base color and the luminance of the blend color. This mode creates an inverse effect from that of the Color mode.

Note:

Avoid applying the Difference, Exclusion, Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity blending modes to objects with spot colors; doing so can add unwanted colors to a document. For more information, see Best practices when creating transparency.

Isolate blending modes

When you apply a blending mode to an object, its colors blend with all objects beneath it. If you want to limit the blending to specific objects, you can group those objects and then apply the Isolate Blending option to the group. The Isolate Blending option confines the blending to within the group, preventing objects beneath the group from being affected. (It is useful for objects that have a blending mode other than Normal applied to them.)

Isolate Blending
Group (star and circle) with Isolate Blending option deselected (left) compared to selected (right)

It is important to understand that you apply the blending modes to the individual objects, but apply the Isolate Blending option to the group. The option isolates blending interactions within the group. It doesn’t affect blending modes applied directly to the group itself.

  1. Apply the blending modes and opacity settings to the individual objects whose blending you want to isolate.
  2. Using the Selection tool, select the objects you want to isolate.
  3. Choose Object > Group.
  4. In the Effects panel, select Isolate Blending. (If the option is not visible, select Show Options in the Effects panel menu.)

    Note:

    You can isolate the blending of objects in a PDF file that contains blending modes. First, place the PDF file with the Transparent Background option selected in the Place PDF dialog box. Then apply the Isolate Blending option.

Knock out objects within a group

You use the Knockout Group option in the Effects panel to make the opacity and blending attributes of every object in the selected group knock out—that is, visually block out—underlying objects in the group. Only objects within the selected group are knocked out. Objects beneath the selected group are still affected by the blending or opacity that you apply to objects within the group.

It is important to understand that you apply the blending modes and opacity to the individual objects, but apply the Knockout Group option to the group.

Group with Knockout Group
Group with Knockout Group option deselected (left) compared to selected (right)

  1. Apply the blending modes and opacity settings to the individual objects that you want to knock out.
  2. Using the Selection tool, select the objects that you want to knock out.
  3. Choose Object > Group.
  4. In the Effects panel, select Knockout Group. (If the option is not visible, select Show Options in the Effects panel menu.)

Specify a color space for blending transparent objects

To blend the colors of transparent objects on a spread, InDesign converts the colors of all objects to a common color space using either the CMYK or RGB color profile for the document. This blending space enables objects of multiple color spaces to blend when interacting transparently. To avoid color mismatches between different areas of the objects on screen and in print, the blending space is applied for screen and in the flattener.

The blending space is applied only to those spreads that contain transparency.

  • Choose Edit > Transparency Blend Space, and then choose one of the document’s color spaces.

Note:

For a typical print workflow, choose the Document CMYK color space.

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