In this article you’ll learn how to create double exposure effect in Photoshop.
Related: Double exposure photography
Double Exposure Photoshop
Step 1 – Prepare The Base Image
Start by selecting the main image. You can use any photo you like but make sure that its background is neutral. Avoid using a photo that has a noisy background like foliage or grass.
Adjust its brightness and contrast to enhance its look. Crop it to remove the undesirable parts and use Spot Healing Brush Tool to fix the flaws like cuts, bumps etc. and make it look flawless.
Step 2 – Get Rid Of Background
Use the Magic Wand Tool to remove the background of the selected photo. Take the tool and click on the background to select it. Now, go to Select > Inverse for selecting the main subject.
Keep the Magic Wand Tool and look for the Refine Edge tool from the Refine Edge option window. Now, you can place the photo on any solid background which will make it easier to edit.
To get rid of the background, increase the radius of the Edge Detection and set it to 1.5 to make the edges smoother so that minor details become visible. Now, set the Output To option to New Layer. It will create a copy of your image by hiding the background by Clipping Mask.
Step 3 – Double Exposure Photoshop Create A New Layer
Below the cut-out layer, create a new layer and paint it with a neutral color using the Paint Bucket Tool.
Step 4 – Select The Second Photo
Time to select the second photo for creating a double exposure effect. You can create any cityscape, a monochromatic nature scene, flowers or any abstract. Place it above the first photo. While keeping the top layer selected, tap on the Control button and click Layer Clipping Mask option from below.
Step 5 – Add The Mask And Erase
From the bottom of the Layer panel, select the Add Vector Mask button to remove the unwanted part of the second photo. Now, select the layer containing the main subject with the Clipping Mask. Make a copy and drag it above the second photo.
You can also make your image monochromatic as it looks more pleasing. For this, keep the main photo selected and go to Image
Adjustments > Desaturate or simply hit on the Shift-Control-U for transforming your image to grayscale.
Now, open the Levels options window and maximize the darkness by sliding the black slider manually. You can set its value to between 115 to 117.
Step 6 – Apply The Effect And Adjust It
Apply any effect you want and then, navigate to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Check the Colorize colorbox from the bottom right corner of the options window for changing the colors of your image. Set the hue to 212 by moving the slider to right, this will add a bluish tint. Basically, you can set the colors according to your picture and the effect you want. Similarly, adjust the saturation level accordingly. After making the desired changes viz contrast, Hue and saturation, Click OK to apply.
Step 7 – Apply The Layer Mask And Give The Final Touches
Apply layer mask from the dropdown menu by right-clicking on the image. Now, change the Blending mode to Screen from the Layers panel. By this stage, you can already see the desired double exposure effect. You’re only a few clicks away from the desired photograph.
Again, create a New Layer under the desaturated photo layer. Take the Brush Tool and select Fill color to paint it with the desired color. You can pick the color directly from any part of your main photo using the Eyedropper Tool.
Now, it’s the time to give the final touches to the image to make it look crisp and well blended. Enhance the detailing by adjusting the contrast.
Select the desaturated photo layer and Add Layer Mask by hitting the mask icon from the Layers panel at the bottom. Pick the Brush Tool and switch the Fill color to black. As the Layer Mask is white by default, switching to black color will help you to remove any undesirable parts of the image. Paint over the main subject to enhance the effect and create an illusion you want.
After applying the finishing touches, save the changes by hitting Enter and now you will have a stunning double exposure photo with you!
Read the official guide double exposure in Photoshop from Adobe here.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Nice to read your thoughts on the double exposure effect. It’s such a beautiful and easy to understand technique! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Yusuf, I’m glad you liked it!