Photoshop tutorial: Create double exposure photos in Photoshop

How to combine two photos to create a double exposure effect in Photoshop.

Intro


Double exposure photos are a great way of getting creative with your photography. Bringing together two (or more) photos well creates a coherent image that can be beautiful, nostalgic or unsettling – depending on what photos you use and how you combine them. 

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In this tutorial, photographer Tigz Rice walks you through the process of creating double exposures in Photoshop, as well as showing you two quite different possible outcomes from the same first image.

You will remove your model from their background using Photoshop's cutout and masking tools – including Refine Edge – use blending modes to bring the two photos together, and adjustment layers to fix the look of the piece.

Tigz notes that while some of today’s modern digital SLR cameras – such as the Canon 5D MkIII – have built-in features to allow you to create multiple exposure photos on locations, there are moments when there’s just not enough time to set up a shot correctly – or perhaps you just want a little more control over the final outcome. 

The multiple exposures created here are based on a shoot by Tigz of performer Aurora Galore.

Time to complete

10 minutes

Software needed

Photoshop

Step 1

Step 2

STEP 2

Click on the Create New Fill Or Adjustment Icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Solid Color.

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Step 3

Step 4

STEP 4

Click on the lock on the 'Background' layer – our original image – to turn this into a  normal layer that we can move around the stack of layers. Drag this on top of the white-filled layers so it becomes visible again. 

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Step 5

STEP 5

Next, we need to cut out our model from the background so she’s sat on a pure white background. The easiest tool for block colour backgrounds is the Quick Selection tool.

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Create a rough selection around the model.

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Step 6

STEP 6

Use Photoshop's Refine Edge tool to draw around the edge of the model’s hair line and capture all those fine hairs and details. For full instructions on how to cut out using the Refine Edge dialog, read our Hair masking – How To Cut Out Hair in Photoshop tutorial here.

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Once you’re happy with your selection, choose Layer Mask from the Output drop down menu and Click OK.


Step 7

STEP 7

Rename this layer ‘Bottom Image’ and convert it to Black and White by clicking on the Black and White button in the Adjustments panel.

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Step 8

STEP 8

This is what my image looks like with the Black and White adjustment's standard settings. We can adjust the results, but it can be easier to just apply another adjustment that does exactly what we want.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Add a Curves layer, also from the Adjustments Panel and use the pop up Properties panel to add more contrast to your image where needed. 

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The darker areas of your image are where the second ‘exposure’ will show through, so make sure you have plenty of dark area to show through.


Step 10

STEP 10

Now, open your second image in Photoshop. The second image can be anything you wish – I've used another pose from the same shoot.

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Make any minor adjustments as necessary.


Step 11

STEP 11

Drag-&-drop the new image into the first document, holding down the Shift key to centralise the image. Resize as necessary by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + T and holding down the Alt key whilst dragging on any of the corner points.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Rename this layer ‘Top Image’ and convert it to Black and White by using the Black and White button in the Adjustments panel.

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Step 13

STEP 13

Next, lets choose a blending mode that will allow areas of both images to show. 

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With 'Top Image' selected in the Layers panel, pick one of the following four blending modes: Lighten, Screen, Linear Dodge (Add) or Lighter Colour. The results will vary dependent on your own images. 


Step 14

STEP 14

With the Move tool selected (V), experiment with different compositions by moving the 'Top Image' layer until you’re happy with the placement.

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Step 15

STEP 15

Depending on how your images are working together, you may want to add another Curves adjustment layer above the 'Top Image' layer – or go back and make further changes to your original Curves layer to increase the contrast on the double exposed areas.

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Step 16

STEP 16

Add a Layer Mask to the 'Top Image' layer and, with a soft black brush, mask away any areas of the top mask that you feel don’t sit well with the overall composition.

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Here, I’ve brought back some of the eye detailing from the 'Bottom Image' layer.


Step 17

STEP 17

Finally, lets add a hint of colour. In the Adjustments panel, click on the Add Hue/Saturation button. 

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Check the Colorise tick box in the Properties Panel. Slide the Hue and Saturation bars until you reach the desired effect.

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Step 18

STEP 18

Going Forward: You could also experiment with a range of other second images, like this selection of trees I have stored in my photography archives. 

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Step 19

STEP 19

Using the same method as shown in steps 7-13, I applied this image of the trees as a ‘double exposure’ for a creepier look.

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