How to Make a Double Exposure Image in Photoshop

How to Make a Double Exposure Image in Photoshop

Table of Contents

How to Make a Double Exposure Image in Photoshop

Table of Contents

01. Select the right picture

First, you need to select the right picture. Images, where your subject has a nice silhouette, are better. By this I mean you should be able to tell what’s on the picture just by looking at the silhouette. Because of this, pictures taken from the side are preferred, where you can see the
nose, lips, jaw at the edge.

Here’s an example:

02. Mask your subject

Masking your subject can be done in many different ways. I’ll go over quickly the method I used for this picture. First I duplicated the image, then made a rough selection with the quick selection tool. With the selection done I select the top layer and add a layer mask.

At this point your layers should look like this:

Photoshop Mask Layer

Now double click on the mask and refine it with the help of this dedicated workspace. With the original image below, you should be able to see the parts which need refinement.

mask refine

For a more in-depth guide on masking check out our blog about masking: How to mask in Photoshop Like a Pro

03. Adjust your image

With the help of the channel mixer adjustment, turn the image in black and white, by enabling the monochrome option. You can turn the image black and white with other methods as well, use the one you prefer.

Photoshop Channel Mixer Options

I further adjusted the image with the help of curves, and brightness contrast layers.

Photoshop Adjustment Layeres

04. Prepare the Second Image

For the second image, I prefer a picture that has a bright part that can be blended with the background. In most cases, this ends up being the sky.

Black and white forest image

I ended up choosing this image. With the help of the adjustment layers, I turned this picture black and white as well. In order for the sky to blend in with the background, it needs to be 100% white. To achieve this make a rough selection of the bright part of the sky, then go to Select>Modify>Feather. In this window enter a number so you end up with a huge feather(this number depends on the size of your image).

Once you have a nice big soft selection create a levels adjustment layer, and lower the 
rightmost number until you get a perfect white sky. Merge these layers(the forest, and its adjustment layers) by pressing Ctrl+E

PS levels settings

05. Adjust the images for the blending

Now that you have both pictures prepared the image with the environment above the image of your subject

bland layeres

Set the blending mode to multiply, and align the environment, as you see fit. Now copy the mask of your subject to the environment, by holding down alt, and dragging it to the layer. Now the environment should be enclosed inside the silhouette of your subject.

06. How to Blend the Images

double exposer masked layer

This next step is where the magic happens, and where you can spend a lot of time fidgeting. First, just in case save your mask. Ctrl+click on the mask layer to make a selection. Now go to Select>Save selection and name it however you wish. This way we can fall back if we mess up the mask in this next step. To blend together the images select a big soft brush and set the flow very low(I set mine to 10%) In the subjects mask layer paint over the parts you wish to hide, and in the environment layer mask paint over the parts you wish to show up. In this example, as you can see in the masks I painted over the middle portion of the subject, so the forest shows up there, and in the environment layer, I painted over the face and jacket so you can see them.

photoshop mask layer
First blend

Play around with the brush inside the mask until you are satisfied. You can always roll back the original mask by going to Select>load selection, and loading the selection you saved and painting over it with white or black, whichever the case might be.

07. Refining the image

At this stage, you are pretty much done, but you get bonus points for extra adjustments. You can merge all the layers together by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E. Go to Filter>Camera raw filter, and play around with the adjustments. You can also place a gradient map above it, and give it some color.

Double exposer photoshop tutorial
Picture of Gergő Sztuchlak

Gergő Sztuchlak

I'm Gergő, co-founder of DesignerDude, and resident UX and graphic design guru. With over a decade of experience, I'm a design Swiss Army Knife - versatile, multi-functional, and always ready to tackle whatever challenge comes my way (except maybe spiders, as I'm not so great with those). When I'm not busy crafting beautiful designs, you can usually find me geeking out over the latest design trends or convincing my co-founders that we need a company mascot (seriously, who doesn't love a good mascot?). As a designer, I have a keen eye for detail, a love of typography, and a knack for making everything just a little more awesome. So, if you're looking for a designer who can bring some wit and wisdom to your project and a lot of experience, you've come to the right place. It's nice to meet you!

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