How to extract a blended layer from its background

I often get PSD assets that have layers with blending modes that end up blending them into a background layer. I’m trying to figure out of there is any way to cleanly extract these layers from the background, ending up with a transparent background, but keeping the color effects that were created by blending onto, say, a blue background?

Hopefully that’s clear…

A very simplified example:

  • blue background
  • take a white brush and paint a line on a higher layer
  • set this layer to Overlay
  • You end up with a light-blue streak with blurred edges.
  • I ultimately want an image that has this same light-blue color but blends to transparent instead of blue.

Obviously real-life examples are much more complicated, but hopefully this explains what I’m trying to do 🙂


  • Blue background
  • New layer with white squiggle
  • Set blend mode to overlay
  • Select > Color Range, click on white squiggle and adjust fuzziness.
  • Use quick mask to clean up as required
  • Duplicate layer to move the squiggle into a layer with transparent background

Or use select color range, select the background, quick mask, then delete to remove background.

The other thing you could try is duplicate your background layer, move it to the top, and set blend mode to subtract or difference. You’ll get a black background with the “white” squiggle, but the squiggle will be a bit darker too.

Source : Link , Question Author : zyklus , Answer Author : MikeW

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