Creating a double exposure effect using Adobe Photoshop.
Basic Photography Digital Photography
May 21, 2018

A double exposure effect is the overlapping of multiple images. This is commonly used in film posters, music album covers etc. When made properly these look quite attractive, to say the least.They are used to voice opinions through images as well since they are created to have an aura about them.

In the years of the past, the camera itself was used to create this double exposure effect by opening the shutter multiple times to expose one particular film. And hence the name double exposure. Now, it has become simpler with software.Once you are done visualising with the kind of double exposure you want, capture the multiple shots and import them to Adobe Photoshop.

Let us look at the steps to make this double exposure effect in Adobe Photoshop.


1. Get the primary photograph in place.

The primary image is the base image on which you will be superimposing the other one.

When you are clicking an image for the double exposure effect, make sure you have an absolutely clear background. There should not be any distractions in touch with the subject. Make sure the dimensions of both the images are sorted using the crop tool. Check the exposure of your primary image. Go to Image - Adjustments - Levels to view the exposure sliders. Adjust the contrast, brightness and other attributes to have the perfect exposure. Use the spot healing tool to clear any sort of messy stuff. Finally, you have arrived at the point where you need to remove the background of the image. Since you have already made sure that your background is clean and without distractions, removing it should not be a pain. With the help of the magic wand tool, click on a spot in the background. It should be able to detect the entire background area. Go to select - inverse to inverse your selection. This means you have now selected your subject cleanly. Once you are done with this, you will find that some of the edges of your image are looking artificially sharp. Use the refine edge button in the control panel section to open the refine edge options box. Use the various options to soften the edges of your image. I can advise you to change the radius value to approximately 1.5 in the edge detection option. This normally softens the edges properly.

Navigate to the options window and then to the output section. Change the output to option to "new layer with new mask" option. This will make sure that a copy of your photograph has been made.

2. The secondary image.

Choose your second image wisely. Place this image over the primary image. Make sure your secondary layer is selected. By pressing the control key, click on the layer clipping mask of the primary layer. You can now view the selection of the primary layer in the background. Below the layers panel, you can find an option called "add vector mask". Use this to hide the unnecessary parts of your secondary layer in case they are exceeding your primary one.

3. The double exposure effect.

Now you have reached the stage where you have successfully placed the secondary layer over the primary. Select the primary layer and make a copy of it. Drag and place it above the secondary layer.

Make sure both the images have a similar colour tone. Otherwise, there is a chance it may look quite amateurish. Navigate to the Image - Adjustments menu to similarize the colour tones of both the images. Once done, you are finally ready for the magic!

Right click on your primary layer mask and click on "Apply Layer Mask" in the box. Navigate to the layers panel and locate the blending mode option. Change the mode of your primary layer to "Screen". The magic should be in front you now! You can just go ahead and apply the finishing touches to your image.

If you feel there are certain unwanted areas in your image, just go the layers panel and select the secondary layer. Select the white colour in the fill option. Paint those unwanted portions with this, in order to get rid of them.

To complete the image, just navigate to the layers panel and select the primary layer and add a new layer mask from the mask icon below the panel. Select the Brush tool. Remember, the default colour of layer mask is always white. So you need to change the fill colour to black in order to merge the two images in an even more realistic way. The black colour will remove any unwanted portions of your primary layer that were looking a bit artificial. Once you are done with this, you should be having a classy looking double exposure image. 


However, there are certain prerequisites to this entire process.

Knowledge of Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop has a very huge world lurking within. As a beginner, it may seem very intimidating. It took me quite a lot of time to actually get used to the nuances of the software. Only then did I start with all these fancy manipulations. Blindly following all the above-mentioned steps might not lead you to your goal since there may be a significant difference in our concept and the choice of shots. I will advise you to get used to the software first before you begin with this sort of image trickery.

To start using Adobe Photoshop, you can take help of several tutorials available on the internet. A lot of practice will be required to master the art of image editing in Photoshop. Mastering this software will help you create film posters, calendars, leaflets, music album covers and several other media related promotional stuff. The efforts required may be huge but once you are done with it, it will be worth every bit of effort and every single piece of torn hair!

Basic Photography Digital Photography
Copy link
About Author
Officially responsible to educate, inspire, and recognize photographers. :) :)
Be the first person to like this
Read this next
Photography in challenging types of light

Photography cannot exist without light, both literally and otherwise! It’s how you are able to use the available light in your images that are actually going to define your photography game.
In this blog, we are going to