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Blending images in Paint.NET
Blending two or more images is a form of image editing that is very difficult to perform manually. However, some image editing programs can perform this function. These programs allow you to merge two or more images. This is usually done with their overlay options, which allow you to combine multiple images with different blending modes and gradient tools. In this article I will introduce a short basictutorialfor blending images using the free image editing software Paint.NET.
If you don't have Paint.NET, you can install it on your Windows computer (Windows 7 or later) by visiting this page and downloading the zip filefile. Open the ZIP file in Windows 10 10 by opening the folder in File Explorer and selecting Extract All. Run the installer and then open Paint.NET.
Blend images with Paint.NET blending modes
Click File > Open and select an image to open. Then click Layers > Import from File and select another image to open it in a second layer. The first image opened is the background layer.
Now open the Layers window as in the snapshot below by clicking the "Layers" button at the top right of the window. You can also press the F7 key combination to open it. All levels that you have configured are displayed here.
The image at the bottom of the window is the background layer. However, you can still switch layers by selecting the background image thumbnail and clicking the Move Layer Up button. This swaps the two layers, making the previous background the foreground layer.
Check the boxes next to the two images if they aren't already selected. Then select the thumbnail at the top of the layers panel with your cursor as in the screenshot above. Click the Properties button in the lower right corner of the window to open the layer properties as in the snapshot below.
This window contains an opacity bar. The bar has a default value of 255, so there is no layer transparency. You can now change this by sliding the bar further to the left as shown in the photo below.
Dragging the slider down the middle of the bar like above effectively merges the two images. The more you drag this bar slider to the left, the more transparent the layer becomes. If you drag this bar all the way to the left, the background image replaces the foreground image.
Paint.NET includes up to 14 alternate layer blending modes. You can select one of these modes by clicking the Mode drop-down menu. The software will add the blending effect to the entire layer.
You can now experiment with these blend modes by choosing them from the menu. For example, you can choose Multiply from the Mode drop-down menu. This is essentially a darker blending mode than the default.
You can also choose lighter blending modes. Screen is more of a blending mode as opposed to Multiply as it brightens the blend. Lighten mode merges layers with the lightest pixels.
Some of the blend modes dramatically change the color schemes of the layers. Difference and Negation are two modes that darken and lighten colors. In the photo below, I selected the Difference setting to darken the colors of the layers.
Merge images with gradient tool
Blending modes in the Layer Properties window are not locked to an area of the image. You apply the mixture to the entire layer. If you're looking for a way to apply the blend to a smaller area of the layer, check out the gradient tool.
You can apply a gradient edit to some layers. Once you have set up two layers to edit as shown above, click Tool and Gradient. This will open a new toolbar with different options as below.
The toolbar contains several alternative blending modes. Choose the Linear option, which is ideal for applying the blend to a half layer. Then click the Color Mode button, circled in red in the snapshot above, and switch to Transparency mode. Note that you must also select the image at the top of the layers panel for these options to work.
Then move the cursor to the far left of the image and click the left mouse buttonMausButton. The background layer will then become visible and you should see a small circle to the left of the image. Place the cursor over this circle, hold down the left mouse button and drag the second small circle to the center of the image. This should create a blending effect similar to the one pictured below. Click the Finish button on the toolbar to accept editing.
This effectively applied the blend to the left half of the layer. You can apply the blend to the whole layer by dragging the second circle in the middle to the right edge. Or you can blend the right half of the layer by moving the circle on the left of the image to the opposite edge. Move the circle on the left side of the image to the top or bottom edge to merge the top and bottom halves of the layer.
Dragging the two circles to the center of the image will give you an effect similar to the one below. This will merge the images with little transparency. So the more you drag the circles towards each other, the greater the transparency.
Diamond is an alternate fusion option on the toolbar. This allows you to merge an area of the foreground image with the background layer in a diamond shape. Select Diamond from the toolbar and then left click on an area of the foreground image to blend it with the background layer.
Then you will see the background layer and you can draw a second circle from the selected point to develop the diamond like below. The transparency also increases as you drag the second circle away from the selected point. So you can still mix a large part of the layers with this option.
The Radial option is similar to Diamond except that it applies a transparent circle to the background image. This allows you to include part of the foreground layer in the circle. The option works the same as Diamond when you apply it by picking a point for the first small circle and then dragging the second to enlarge it and increase transparency.
You now know how to blend or merge multiple images using the blend modes in Paint.NET's Layer Properties window or the software's gradient tool. If you choose images that can effectively overlap and have similar color combinations, blending images can be a great editing effect.
Pros: How to blend images in Paint.NET
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FAQ: How to blend images in Paint.NET
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