What are the mechanics inside the Apply Image panel?

This is the panel I am referring to, but I have it in Spanish.

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Inside we can configure some stuff, something that resembles the blending modes, etc.

This specific configuration is used in Frequency separation for Portrait retouching for example.

enter image description here

I want to implement this in different applications that does not have the exact same tool, let's say Gimp or PhotoPaint... but I am wondering...

What that tool really does? It is not only a blending mode, obviously, somehow the current layer gets combined, explored, cooked and baked with the other layer, some hocus pocus happening there, and POOF!, you have a new layer...

What are the mechanics inside that cauldron?

enter image description here

  • 1
    It's called "Apply Image" in English, btw.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 30, 2018 at 5:30

2 Answers 2


In the English version of Photoshop it's called "Apply Image".

It's somewhat similar to GIMP's "Layer from Visible" functionality - but just with a dialog box which controls how layers are merged, rather than making adjustment to the actual layer blending modes/opacity.

It's function is essentially for merging all layers into a layer, but unlike GIMP's "Layer from Visible" the result isn't a new layer. The result is applied to the selected layer.

To be honest, I've never personally found a use for it in my 20 or so years working with Photoshop. I also use GIMP and have never missed this functionality, since GIMP already has "Layer from Visible". If the extra layer left over is a problem, you can simply delete it.

The problem with merging layers like this is that it is destructive, as everything on the layers being merged is rasterized. It's not something I would really want to use in Photoshop as part of my normal non-destructive work flow (nor in GIMP for that matter).


The Apply Image function in Photoshop is really useful for populating layer masks, particularly from layers in other color-spaces. If done correctly, during post-processing of photos for example, it can completely avoid fiddling with brushes when editing layer masks as you can simply choose a suitable channel and apply it (perhaps inverted) to the layer mask.

An example for instance would be if you needed a layer mask to limit the effects of a contrast enhancement in a landscape shot. Instead of painting this mask by hand, just use Apply Image to apply the photo itself to the layer mask. As the foreground will be predominantly dark and the sky brighter, this essentially gives you the masking required. This also works great if there were vegetation or complicated architecture in the foreground.

  • 1
    Hi. Welcome to GDSE. Thanks for contributing. However, I think the question here is more about how Apply Image works at a technical level, with the goal of being able do do something similar in other software, such as GIMP. You might want to mention how that could be done in other software.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 8, 2021 at 23:44
  • (Also some images would be amazing: one image as example is better than 3 paragraphs explaining it) Jul 9, 2021 at 16:54

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