How to Use CSS Blend Modes

CSS Blend Modes are powerful tools that allow you to create stunning visual effects by blending the colors of overlapping elements. Imagine instead of opaque layers, you have translucent paints that interact and combine to create unique compositions. That's the magic of blend modes!

What is a blend mode?

A blend mode is a feature in graphics software and CSS that determines how two or more layers or elements blend together visually. It defines how the colors of overlapping pixels interact, allowing for effects like transparency, color adjustments, and artistic enhancements. Blend modes can alter the appearance of elements by combining their colors in different ways, such as multiplying, screening, overlaying, or maintaining their original appearance. They are commonly used in image editing software like Photoshop and in web development to create dynamic visual effects directly in the browser.

Here's a breakdown:

What they do:

  1. Blend modes define how the colors of two or more overlapping elements combine to create a new color.
  2. They achieve this by performing calculations on the individual color channels (red, green, blue, and alpha) of each element.
  3. This opens up a world of creative possibilities, from subtle shadows to vibrant overlays and everything in between.

Where to use them:

  1. mix-blend-mode: Blends an element with its parent's background (great for hover effects, text overlays).
  2. background-blend-mode: Blends multiple background layers of an element (think gradients, textures, and more).

Popular Blend Modes and Examples:


This is the default blend mode where the element is rendered without any blending.

.normal { mix-blend-mode: normal; }


The colors of the top layer are multiplied with the colors of the bottom layer, resulting in a darker color.

.multiply { mix-blend-mode: multiply; }


The colors of the top layer are inverted, multiplied, and then inverted again, resulting in a lighter color.

.screen { mix-blend-mode: screen; }


Combines Multiply and Screen blend modes, resulting in increased contrast.

.overlay { mix-blend-mode: overlay; }


Compares the colors of the top and bottom layers and selects the darker color.

.darken { mix-blend-mode: darken; }


Compares the colors of the top and bottom layers and selects the lighter color.

.lighten { mix-blend-mode: lighten; }

Color Dodge

Brightens the bottom layer depending on the brightness of the top layer.

.color-dodge { mix-blend-mode: color-dodge; }

Color Burn

Darkens the bottom layer depending on the darkness of the top layer.

.color-burn { mix-blend-mode: color-burn; }


Subtracts the bottom layer color from the top layer color or vice versa, resulting in a high-contrast image.

.difference { mix-blend-mode: difference; }


Similar to the Difference blend mode but with a less extreme effect.

.exclusion { mix-blend-mode: exclusion; }
Full Source Example:
run this source code Browser View
<!DOCTYPE html> <html lang="en"> <head> <meta charset="UTF-8"> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"> <title>CSS Blend Modes: Normal and Multiply</title> <style> body { font-family: Arial, sans-serif; display: flex; justify-content: center; align-items: center; height: 100vh; margin: 0; background-color: #f0f0f0; } .container { display: flex; justify-content: space-around; align-items: center; width: 80%; height: 300px; } .normal { width: 200px; height: 200px; background-color: #3498db; /* Blue */ mix-blend-mode: normal; /* Default mode */ } .multiply { width: 200px; height: 200px; background-color: #e74c3c; /* Red */ mix-blend-mode: multiply; } .text { font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold; color: #fff; text-align: center; line-height: 200px; } </style> </head> <body> <div class="container"> <div class="normal"> <div class="text">Normal</div> </div> <div class="multiply"> <div class="text">Multiply</div> </div> </div> </body> </html>

The isolation property

The isolation property in CSS specifies whether an element's content is rendered independently of its surroundings, such as other elements or backgrounds. By default, elements are not isolated, meaning their content can blend with content from neighboring elements or backgrounds. However, setting isolation to 'isolate' ensures that the element's content is rendered separately, creating a stacking context where the element's content is rendered on top of its background and other elements. This property is particularly useful when you want to prevent blending or mixing of content between elements, ensuring visual consistency and clarity in complex layouts or overlapping elements.


CSS Blend Modes enable elements on a webpage to blend with their backgrounds or with other elements, offering a range of visual effects without image editing. With options like Multiply, which darkens underlying layers based on an element's color, and Normal, which maintains the original appearance without blending, CSS Blend Modes provide versatile tools for creating engaging designs directly within the browser.