Blending use Pin Light

February 12, 2016

We’ve talked about Blend Modes before, but today I would like to visit the often-overlooked Pin Light Blend Mode.

Blend modes change how two layers interact with each other.  The most commonly used Blend Modes are Multiply, Screen, Overlay, and Soft Light; but Pin Light can work really well on certain products as well.  (Blendables, Transfers, Paints, Overlays, and even Post Cards or Journal Cards, for example.)

Pin Light is included with the Contrast Modes. To access Pin Light (or any of the Blend Modes), click on the down-pointing arrow in the Blend Mode Box at the top of the layers panel; then scroll down to Pin Light.


We’ll start with 2 simple things – a postcard and a frame. Let’s put the design from the card on this frame. Here’s how:

sd-blend-2Position the postcard on the frame; resize the postcard as desired.


Change the blend mode of the postcard to Pin Light.

Just like magic, we now see the design on the frame, and the background of the postcard is not visible.

To personalize the design, I erased (masked away) the “Leap Year 1908” text, and replaced it with the year this photo of my mother was taken.


Let’s  look at another frame and another postcard. sd-blend-5Using the same method, and the same Blend Mode of Pin Light:


Rather than using the entire postcard image,  I like how using just a part of the postcard image added additional interest to this frame. Don’t forget you can resize frames to suit your needs;  I resized this frame so that my small photo would fit perfectly. This is a photo of me and my Grandmother.


When experimenting with your own products, be sure to try all Blend Modes.  Depending on the products you are using, as well as their color, other Modes might work equally well, or better, than Pin Light for you.

Experiment and have fun!

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  1. Jo

    Thanks so much. Pin Light is a mode that I have pretty much ignored. Will have to look at it in a new “light” now.

  2. Donna

    I use the Pin Light mode frequently on elements and to enhance photos.

  3. Pam K

    Thank you for explaining a bit about “pin light” … in the past, I have selected it when playing around with blending modes, but never really liked the result … I think I wasn’t using it in the right situations. Thanks to Diane for the vintage frame!

    • Karen

      Yes, Pam, Pin Light doesn’t work in every situation, but when it does, it’s awesome! Just another tool in your Photoshop arsenal to keep handy!

  4. Peggy S

    I love blend modes, but hadn’t thought of using it to combine two such different elements. Thank you. I love getting fresh new ideas.

    • Karen

      Thanks, Peggy, for letting me know this was helpful for you!

  5. cullyscraps

    Thank you for this and all your tutorials. There are hundreds of Photoshop tutorials,well, probably thousands, but yours are the ones i read and keep and refer back to. They are so useful and to the point. I can imagine how much work it takes. Thank you for such generous sharing of your hard-earned knowledge.

  6. RoseC

    Thanks Karen! Always appreciate your tips and tuts. Rose

  7. Su Hall

    I am finding that the Pin Light mode does some nice effects on some things, myself. Funny how you can NOT use something for so long, then, in one instance, realize the value of what it does and use it all the time. I can’t explain what it does, but, it seems to let the original colors and texture through, but, depending on what is below it, leaves grungy areas that don’t take color and some that take the color a bit too well. It is not as strong as the Vivid Light and Linear Light. But, it is stronger than Soft Light and Overlay.
    Like that makes sense! LOL
    Thank you for the nice tut and frame. You and your grandmother are just precious!


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