Double exposure is a classic photographic technique whose popularity has skyrocketed. Thanks to current software, you don't need to be a photographer to achieve spectacular and creative double exposure effects.
There are many methods to make this effect using Adobe Photoshop. I will show you a simple way which can be recorded by creating an action for multiple uses without repeating the same process every time.
If you want to dive right in, why not skip straight to our free course on making a double exposure effect in Photoshop? See the full process played out in six easy-to-follow videos.
The Easy Way
If you want to create double exposure effects in a single click and you do not have time or do not want to create your own actions, you may be interested in this double exposure action from my portfolio on GraphicRiver. With it, you can add an awesome double exposure effect to your own image in just a few seconds.
1. Gather Your Resources
To make this action we need two pictures, one base image and another one that will be overlaid. For the main image, we will use the following picture by Léa Dubedout which you can find at Unsplash.
You can use any photo, but for an optimal result, it is preferable that the image has a light and neutral background. Therefore, backlit images work very well for double exposure.
For the fill image, we can use any kind of picture, such as natural landscapes, skylines, abstract shapes, patterns, etc. In our case, we are going to use this photo of a New York City street by Life of Pix, which you can find on Pixabay.
Place the New York picture above the main image; for our action, the names of the layers don't matter. To place the New York image in the right place, we can change the Blending Mode to Overlay.
2. How to Record an Action in Photoshop
Once our images are placed, we are ready to start recording our action.
Open the Actions panel using Window > Actions (Alt-F9) and click the “Create new action” button at the bottom of the panel. Name the action as you wish, for instance: "Double Exposure". Immediately, we will start recording the action, so do not do anything you do not want to be recorded in your action.
First of all, we change the Blend Mode to Screen and add a mask to the layer by pressing the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Later, we will use this mask for final touches.
Secondly, create a copy of the current layer using Layer > Duplicate Layer (Control-J). For this new layer we change the Blend Mode to Normal; select its mask and reverse (Control-I).
Now we are going to add more brightness and contrast to our image. Therefore, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (Control-L) and type the following values: 8 for shadows, 1.15 for midtones, and 197 for highlights. Click the OK button to apply.
To add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and raise the contrast to 100.
Finally, we already have our action finished. Hence, in the Actions panel, hit the Stop button to stop the recording.
3. Add the Final Touches
After applying our new action to one of our images, we may want to reveal parts of our background image, which were covered by the fill image. To facilitate this, previously we left aside the aforementioned prepared masks.
Firstly, select the mask of our fill image layer and the Brush Tool (B) (black color), and then select the proper size for your image. Finally, paint on the mask to erase any areas from the fill image.
If what we need is to reveal more areas from the fill image, select the mask that we inverted and paint with the Brush Tool (B) in white.
Now that you have your own double exposure action, you can easily create stunning images in seconds.
I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects.
Repeating this effect manually every time can be very time-consuming and boring. If you are looking for a quicker way to create a double exposure effect using Photoshop, then check out my Double Exposure Action from my portfolio on GraphicRiver.
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