How to Use Blending Modes in Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro 12/12/2018 3 min read

Video editors of any skill level are continually trying to increase the quality and impact of their projects. One very effective way of doing this is to learn how to properly use blend modes in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Doing so can open up a new set of possibilities for making visually complex and engaging video projects.  

In this tutorial, you will learn what blend modes are, how to use them, and why they can make such a dramatic difference to your project.  We will also explore the six blend mode categories and how each of them changes the way clips interact with each other.  

Part 1: Why Use Premiere Pro Blend Modes?

It’s a fair question: why would you want to use a blend mode in the first place? Simply put, blend modes give you another dimension of control over how your video looks. 

When editing a project in Premiere Pro, one of the things you’ll be working out is which clips appear in what order. And you’ll likely be stacking clips on top of one another, such as when you add text to a clip.

Blending modes allow you to specify how layers and clips stacked on top of each other interact. These work from the top down — so changing the blending mode of the top clip will change how it interacts with the clip beneath it — not the other way around.

At their essence, blending modes can help you take two different elements and make them feel like one cohesive unit.

Part 2: How To Use Blend Modes in Your Videos

We’re assuming you’re convinced and you’re exciting to use blend modes in your project. So, how do you do it?

First, you have to find them. Head to Effect Controls panel > Opacity > Blend Mode. Under here you’ll find many different options that are broken down into different groups. But picking the right blend mode option is easier if you understand what specific core interaction each of the different groups has. 

Blend Mode Categories

Here’s an overview of the blend mode categories to help as a starting point for what each does. 


Normal is your default status. If you make no manual changes, this is what takes hold on every single clip you edit.

Subtractive Category

The blend modes in the subtractive category tend to take the darker parts of your image and make them more visible, meanwhile taking the brighter parts of your image and making them transparent. The subtractive category includes Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn, and Darken Color.

Additive Category

The blend modes in the additive category do essentially the opposite of the subtractive category. By using it, the brighter parts of your image will remain while the darker parts become transparent. The additive category includes Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add), and Lighter Color.

Complex Category

As the name suggests, the complex category of blend modes can be a little complex but at their core, they tend to make changes based around whether the top or bottom clips either have a luminant value above or below a certain threshold. The complex category includes Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, Pin Light, and Hard Mix.

Difference Category

Also as the name suggests, the difference category tends to take the difference between the two clips that you are interacting with. You’ll notice that the predominant way you’ll notice the differences with the blend mode have to do with the color.

HSL Category

The HSL category stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity. These three options work in a sort of triangle and whichever one you choose the source clip will maintain that trait while taking the other two clips from beneath it. For example, if you choose Hue, the clip will hold on to its original hue while taking the saturation and luminosity of the clip beneath it.

To get a deeper understanding of how each impacts your edits, we encourage you to experiment and test the various options available. Adobe also has a great resource if you want even more details about blending modes. 

Blend modes are used during post-production to enhance videos in multiple ways, including creating light leaks, film grain, exposure control, and double exposure. And when it comes to choosing the right blend mode for your project, have fun playing around with them to create a unique look. 

Now you know the why and how to use Premiere Pro blending modes, it’s time to get creative and find the perfect use for your next video or film!