I'm working with a graphic with a relatively dark background. I've got some white text in the foreground, and I set the blend mode of the text layer to Soft Light to make it semi-transparent. I then duplicated that text layer a few times to create a little extra contrast and help the text stand out, and it looks great.

I'm going to need to do this with several different texts on the image, and I thought I'd group the layers for each piece of text just to keep things organized. However, as soon as I start putting the Soft Light layers into groups, I seem to lose the effect; it's like the modes are merging and the text appears plain white again.

Is there a way to avoid this and keep the layer modes intact while grouping?

This is GIMP 2.10.32 in case that's important.

Soft light layers are duplicated, giving the text a cool transparent look Here the soft light layers are duplicated, giving the text a cool transparent look

the soft light layers have been grouped, and the transparent effect is lost Here the soft light layers have been grouped, and the transparent effect is lost

  • 1
    Once you start grouping layers the the layers within a group will naturally interact differently with the layers below. I think this is unavoidable. Perhaps instead you could add the soft light blending mode to the group?
    – Billy Kerr
    May 16, 2023 at 19:57
  • @BillyKerr I wondered about applying the mode to the group—just tried it though and it didn't work (or it kinda did, but it appeared very faint, as though it was just a single layer with soft light). You may be right in that the problem is just unavoidable :(
    – EJF
    May 16, 2023 at 21:23
  • Yeah, a group will work like a single layer, but you might want to try a different blending mode, or perhaps work with the layer opacity in the layers panel, or a combination of both. Or as xenoid suggested, put the group in Pass Through mode.
    – Billy Kerr
    May 17, 2023 at 8:05
  • @BillyKerr the Pass Through mode seems to have worked! I'm maybe not getting quite the same effect but it's close enough, and it's much nicer having all my duplicated text layers organized in groups.
    – EJF
    May 18, 2023 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


Can't exactly reproduce your problem, but:

When you put layers in a group, the layers in the group are blended among them selves, and the resulting image is blended with the rest of the stack using the layer mode of the group. In other words, the group acts a bit as a pair of parentheses in a math formula.

AFAIK, the exception to this rule is if the layer group is put in "Pass-through" mode, in which case its contents behave as if they were in the group's parent and the group is merely a "management" item:

enter image description here

  • Oh hey that seems to have worked! I had tried every single other mode just to see what would happen and couldn't figure out why I'd missed that one, but when I open the mode menu, it defaults to have Normal at the top, and Pass Through was hiding above it. Thank you!
    – EJF
    May 18, 2023 at 15:44
  • Pass-through is easy to overlook because it only shows for groups...
    – xenoid
    May 18, 2023 at 17:07

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