The effect of double exposure in Photoshop

Usually the effect of double exposure is used by photographers, while using nothing other than their camera, with which they combine two different photos to create an abstract and surreal image. However, we can also reproduce this effect in Photoshop, which will give us additional opportunities for correcting and creating the effect. By following this lesson step by step, you will create a double exposure effect yourself. We combine two photos together using clipping masks and masking techniques.

The effect of double exposure is not only popular among photographers, artists and designers can use this technique to create beautiful abstract paintings. You can see this effect in reality on the album covers, as well as when the captions of popular TV series begin to go. Today we will focus on imitating the traditional effect in Photoshop. This is a relatively simple process, however, the end result in most cases will depend on how well the two source photos complement each other. For inspiration, you can watch the work with the effect of double exposure on Pinterest.

Final result

The most common combination of photos is a portrait + scene with nature, therefore, I picked up excellent images on stock resources. First, I picked up a female profile on Try to pick a portrait with a clean background, otherwise, it will be difficult for you to select an object. The second image that I picked up on is a beautiful landscape. One of the advantages of creating this effect in Photoshop is that you can experiment with different images to find the most suitable images for each other, so download a few source images to see which one fits best together!

  • Download source materials

Step 1

First, select the object in the original image. Using tool Pen (Pen tool), create an outline around the female profile.

Step 2

Roughly circle the outline around the hair of the model, going deeper by a few pixels of the female profile to avoid highlighting the background between the hairs.

Step 3

Create a contour around the model image, closing the contour on the starting point. Right-click on the created contour and in the window that appears, select the option To form a selected area (Make Selection), next, set Shading radius (Feather Radius) 0,5rs.

Step 4

Now let’s work on correcting the created coarse contour line around the model’s hair. So let’s go Selection – Refine Edge (Select> Refine Edge) and in the settings window that appears, change the radius Edge definitions (Edge Detection Radius), including setting Edge shift (Shift Edge) to convert a contour line to an active selection.

Step 5

Expanding the edges of the selected area will also add fragments of the background around the model’s face. Choose a tool Remove updates (Erase Refinements Tool), this is the brush icon in the tool settings Refine edge (Refine Edge), and then with this tool, paint over any unwanted background areas.

Step 6

Change brush to tool Refine radius (Refine Radius tool). Next, using this tool, paint around the contour line of the hair to capture any hairs that have not yet entered the outline of the selected area.

Step 7

Copy the created selection, and then paste it onto a new layer. Create a new layer below the layer with the selected female profile, fill this layer with white color to separate the portrait of the model.

Step 8

Open a stock image with a landscape; move this image onto our working paper, placing the landscape layer on top of all other layers. Hold the Ctrl + key and click on the thumbnail of the layer with the selected portrait of the model to load the active selection around the model image. Next, add a layer mask to the landscape layer to highlight the landscape along the outline of the portrait.

Step 9

Cancel the connection between the layer thumbnail and the layer mask thumbnail. (Translator’s Note: click on the chain links between the thumbnails). This action will allow you to move and scale the image of the landscape regardless of its layer mask, therefore, the mask will remain in the same position, while we will select the best composition for our effect, transforming the landscape.

Step 10

Duplicate the layer with the selected portrait of the model. Move the duplicate layer to the top, placing it on top of all layers. Next, apply a correction. Levels (Levels), let’s go Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels). Begin to darken the image by shifting the sliders Input and Output Values (Input and Output levels).

Step 11

Change the blending mode for duplicate layer to Lightening (Screen) to make shaded areas of the female profile transparent. The image we blacked out Levels (Levels), it became like a translucent cast, this can be corrected with the help of the layer opacity correction.

Step 12

Add a layer mask to the layer with a translucent portrait that looks like a ghost and using a large soft black brush, paint over some areas to match. Painting with a black brush on the layer mask, we hide the areas of the portrait, while painting with a white brush restores the hidden areas.

Step 13

Select a light tone pattern from the image, and then replace the white background with the shade you have selected.

Translator’s Note: using a tool Pipette (Eyedropper), select a shade pattern. Next, go to the white fill layer to fill.

Step 14

A separate part of the image silhouette has a strange shape in the upper part of the head, where we carried out the correction of the selection, however, this can be corrected by selecting a color tone from the background and painting with a soft brush on a new layer.

Step 15

Add a new adjustment layer Black and white (Black White) on top of all other layers to hide the paint image. Reduce the opacity of this adjustment layer to about 30%.

Step 16

Next, add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) to improve contrast of light and shade.

Step 17

Finally, add an adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) to create a style of separate tones. I used a light beige tint # e2d9d1 for light highlights, a muted brown tint # 52463b for midtones, and a dark blue tint # 0e1133 for shadows. Change the blending mode for this adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) on Chromaticity (Color).

The final image represents the effect of double exposure and looks great with additional adjustment layers. Clear lines of the silhouette really stand out from the background, while an additional layer with a delicate translucent portrait adds detail to the face. In contrast to the traditional technique of using the camera, this picture can still be changed and adjusted, which allows you to experiment with different combinations of backgrounds and see the result throughout your work on the picture.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Final result

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