Advanced Control of Layers in Photoshop With the 'Pass Through' Trick

If you are working with multiple layers in Photoshop, then you are probably aware of the significance of controlling layer groups when dealing with different blending modes and adjustment layers. Luckily, there is an often-ignored option called “pass through,” and changing that might widen your capabilities.

Photoshop’s features get deeper when you start working with multiple layers, as you widen your fine-tuning options on a per layer basis, including blending with different effects, using a layer mask, or even affecting the selected luminosity values by tweaking the Blend-if option. But, as the layer count rises, controlling the workflow gets harder and therefore grouping the layers comes to help. When you group multiple layers by pressing command + G on Mac (or control + G on Windows), the blending mode of that group becomes “Pass Through” by default. This keeps your adjustment layers’ order the samewhile keeping them affecting all the layers underneath, even for layers that are outside of your group. For avoiding this, usually, clipping masks or just basic layer masks are used, but they have some limitations. Therefore, changing “Pass Through” to “Normal” blending mode can keep your adjustment layers only affecting the layers in the same group. Plus, you can even achieve various results based on the blending mode that you choose.

Jesus Ramirez from the Photoshop Training Channel explains this method on one of his composite images in this 10-minute video. He demonstrates this with using multiple adjustment layers and different blending modes that will help you to understand the process better.

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Samten Norbù's picture

I've never noticed this feature ! Nice to upgrade skills once in a while ! Thanks !

wesjones's picture

Finally! A clear explanation of blending modes for groups.

Paul Elliott's picture

Absolutely brilliant.