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I understand that the add is adding that color, and multiply is coloring the brightness. But I don't understand why the lighten only colors dark areas. Unlike the name, why does the lighten add color to the dark part?

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Lighten = pick the highest value color

As shown in the manual:

enter image description here

Blender is using the transformations as described in the Gimp specifications:

Lighten only mode compares each component of each pixel in the upper layer with the corresponding one in the lower layer and uses the larger value in the resulting image. Completely black layers have no effect on the final image and completely white layers result in a white image.

So it's basically using the highest value color, thet's why it's more probable to affect the darker areas as your shadows

https://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-concepts-layer-modes.html

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you saying that it affects the highhist value color and that the highmost value color is close to black? @@ sorry my english $\endgroup$ – supermoon1234 Oct 17 '20 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm, no. The highest values are closer to white. It confronts the two pixel of the two images and uses the one wich has the highest value. So shadows, which are dark, are probably substitute and highlites tends to stay the same. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Oct 17 '20 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ In your example, the shadow (black) has a value of 0, the highlite (white) is instead 1. The blue you are mixing is around 0.3, so for shadows max(0,0.3)=0.3 (blue) and for whites max(1,0.3)=1 (white). $\endgroup$ – Carlo Oct 17 '20 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ ah. white is 1. black is 0. Compare the two values and print the bright ones. shadow is 0.0.0 -> print 0.0.0.3. because blue is bigger than black $\endgroup$ – supermoon1234 Oct 18 '20 at 3:26

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