How to Create an Artistic Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Traditionally, a double exposure is created by simply snapping two shots in one frame on a film camera. Sometimes, you get it right and the outcome is incredible, but lots of times you may not like the effect or even intend to do it. Now, with a few Photoshop techniques, you can create your own unique double exposure that is pretty much guaranteed to turn out exactly as you envisioned it. Basically, you can bring your imagination to life. Here, you’ll learn how to combine two images to create a final high quality piece of art using blend modes:

In the video tutorial, Aaron Nace uses a regular portrait of a woman on a gray background and a picture of some flowers on white to create a great artistic double exposed image. He chose these images because of the high contrast between light and dark. When choosing your images, think tree against a clear sky rather than a cluttered photo of your backyard.

Bringing the opacity down, he positions his images where he wants them. Then the blending begins. As Nace says, this this the real key to creating a double exposure. There are a bunch of different blending modes that you can experiment with, but for this tutorial, Nace uses Lighten on the subject over top of the flowers.

lighten blending mode

Working on a white background, he cuts out the gray background of the portrait using a layer mask to keep things more focused on the subject.

Using Layer Masks

Once the images are blended together, you can use layer masks for added effect. Here, Nace wants part of the subject’s hat to be defined by flowers, so he follows these steps:

  • Create a selection of the subject cut out from her background.
  • Load it onto a duplicate layer of flowers.
  • Size the flowers up and move them to fill up space of the hat.
  • Use another duplicate of the flower layer to fill in areas on the subject where there were no flowers.

photoshop layer mask

Adding Style with Background Color

After you have finished your double exposure, you can add some color to make it a little more interesting:

  • Using a Levels Adjustment Layer, pull the sliders down on the different color channels to lower the white point.
  • To add a complimentary color to the edges of the image, use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.
  • Click on the Colorize button and adjust hue, saturation, and lightness.
  • In a foreground to transparent gradient, paint white around the edges.
  • You can always continue to adjust hue and saturation to get the desired color.
photoshop blending modes

Final Double Exposure with White Border

You can also add a border if you like, or any other effects that you want to make your final image unique and representative of your style. Add details as you like using selections and layer masks, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

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4 responses to “How to Create an Artistic Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop”

  1. Photo Gus says:

    Call it what it is, MASKING!

  2. Willium says:

    What a amazing it is! In the past i try to make this but not success but after see your tutorial now i easily create it. Many thanks for share with us.

  3. Ansu Man says:

    Awesome information. Thanks for sharing…

  4. Good information for photo retoucher. It enhances the skill of Photoshop.

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