Perhaps the quickest approach to add a touch of awe and style to your videos or pictures in After Effects is to utilize the Blending mode. You can transform the overall appearance and feel of your composition with only a few clicks.  

From creating really cool and fun double exposures to composing outstanding VFX, Blending modes are incredible while working with multiple layers. Of course, no two blending modes are the same. Some blending modes may work better than others at performing certain tasks. 

Like any other Motion Graphics designer, I, too, have a few go-to blending modes. Let's have a look at them and how they can transform an image.

What are Blending Modes?

Blending modes are ‘mini effects' that can be quickly applied to any layer in your composition to make it connect with the layers underneath. Blending modes can fill in as a fast keying utility, a shading effect, or even an outlining tool.

Applying blending modes is indeed the most foolproof way to add that ‘wow' factor in your composition without really having to get too deep into the program. 

The name says it all, you simply have to blend or add a new layer to your existing composition, and there you have it- An entirely new masterpiece!

Top 6 Blending Modes in After Effects

Below, I've listed six of my most favorite Blending tools in After Effects, one of the most popular Graphic design software. 


Screen is a blending mode that you can use to get rid of the dark elements of your image. It allows you to add elements on a black background into your picture. This blending mode is often used in a VFX setting as most VFX elements typically come with a black background.

For instance, let’s take an image with a dark background.

image for screen blending mode

Let’s take another image with some element, for instance the snow element.

snow element

With the Screen blending effect, you can completely transform the appearance of the first image. Simply add the screen transfer mode, and voila, magic! It appears like the girl is enjoying the snowfall.

screen blending mode


The Multiply blending mode is entirely contrary to Screen. Rather than removing out the dark elements, Multiply takes out the lighter aspects of your image. While you can use Multiply for any circumstances, I often use it to add a grungy touch to my images.

For instance, consider this image of a honey bee taking nectar from a white flower.

image for multiply blending effect

And suppose you want to add this shabby or grungy effect to the image.

grungy effect

Add the Multiply blending effect, and as you can see, there's a darker, grungy effect to what previously was an image with a bright and vibrant appearance.

multiply blending effect


Similar to the Screen blending mode, the Add transfer mode also leaves the image highlights while eliminating the darker elements. Though, Add progresses one step further. And as the name indicates, it adds its color values to the image, making the image increase significantly in terms of brightness.

You can use this blending mode effect for practically any number of purposes. However, I often end up using the Add blending mode to add lighting effects in my composition.

Take this wolf-dog image, for instance.

image for add blending mode

Now, let's see what the picture would look like when a ‘Hipster' style light leak is masked on top.

light steak effect

Simply apply the Add blending mode, and voila, now it looks like the wolf-dog is gazing through the dawn.

add blending mode

Classic Color Burn or Color Burn

Similar to Multiply, the Color Burn blending modes will darken your image. Though, the difference lies in the fact that Color Burn itself in a way that it blends with the background. As the name suggests, it creates a burned look, making it perfect for a vintage look.  

For instance, let’s consider this bright image of two elephants.

image for color burn

Now, we will use the Color Burn effect to add a vintage look to it.

color burn effect

Voila, doesn’t the picture look so different now?

color burn blending mode


Overlay adjusts the color of the mid-tones while maintaining the light and dark elements of an image. An overlay is often used to add stylized elements to your composition. 

image for overlay blending mode

Lets' see how Overlay blending mode transforms an image.

overlay blending mode

Quite magnificent, isn’t it? The added hues have made the image much more vibrant.

Soft Light

Soft Light is pretty similar to the Overlay blending mode. Though, Soft Light tends to be quite subtle, while Overlay is more prominent. 

Let's take the same image, for instance.

If you notice carefully and compare the two pictures, you will understand the difference between the two.

soft light blending mode

Watch this video, to see the Blending Modes in action.

Some Tips to keep in Mind

  • Blending modes do not work with keyframes and cannot be animated. 
  • If you want to add multiple blending modes on a single layer, you can split it at specific points and then change the transfer modes.
  • You can also access the blending modes via the Layer menu and Blending mode.
  • You can use the entire list of blending modes by simply holding down the shift key and pressing “-” to move down or “=” to go up. All you need to do is highlight the image you want to apply the transfer mode to.

Wrapping Up

Well, these were only a few examples of Blending modes in Adobe After Effects. However, there are various other Blending modes that can be applied to get the desired outcomes. 

Remember, no two blending modes are the same or will give you similar output. The most excellent aspect of using the Blending modes is that they are pretty fast to apply as well as modify. And you can transform the overall appearance of an image with just one click. 

And at last, I would say, have fun, experiment, and explore the magical world of graphics that After Effects has to offer.

Not too sure about doing everything on your own? Looking for a video production agency to handle things for you? Well, get in touch with us now!

Editor: Richa Sharma

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, After Effects includes blending modes that allow you to combine and interact with layers and clips in various ways. Blending modes affect how one layer interacts with the layers beneath it, altering factors like transparency, color, and brightness. Common blending modes include “Multiply,” “Screen,” “Overlay,” and more, each producing distinct visual effects.

If the blending mode options are not visible in After Effects, it could be due to a few reasons. Firstly, ensure that you have a layer selected in your composition, as blending modes are applied to individual layers. Secondly, check if the “Toggle Switches/Modes” button is active in the Timeline panel; clicking it will reveal the blending mode options for the selected layer. If the issue persists, you may want to reset your workspace or preferences to default settings.

Blending modes can be found in the Timeline panel of After Effects, specifically in the “Mode” column next to the layers. To access them, ensure you have a layer selected, and then click on the dropdown menu in the “Mode” column. This will display a list of blending modes that you can choose from to apply to the selected layer.

Blending clips in After Effects involves layering multiple clips in your composition and applying blending modes to control how they interact. To blend clips, place them in the composition, adjust their stacking order in the Timeline panel, and then choose a blending mode for the uppermost clip. Experiment with different blending modes to achieve the desired visual effect. You can also fine-tune the blending by adjusting the opacity and other layer properties to create unique composites and transitions.