How to create a double exposure effect in Adobe Photoshop.

In film photography, a double exposure is a combination of two exposures in one image to produce evocative results. In this easy-to-follow tutorial, learn how graphic artist Erica Larson uses Adobe Photoshop to combine two photos, creating a seamless double exposure effect. 

Photo composite of a bison against a white background and a snow scene blended in with its body

Take a quick one-minute look at Larson’s double exposure technique—the steps are written out below.

 

Before you start.

The best images to use with this technique are high-contrast photos with distinct light and dark areas. Use these sample images if you’d like, or practice with your own.     

 

Step 1: Prep your images

Open your two images and drag one on top of the other. Larson dragged the snowy landscape on top of the image of the bison. Then, in the Layers panel, set the Blend mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity setting. 

Before/after shows original bison image and the final composite with snow image added, blending mode set, and Opacity reduced

Step 2: Get clear

To bring out the bison’s face and other areas, Larson added a mask to the landscape layer. This allowed her to simply paint wherever she wanted those details to come through. 

Paint with black on layer mask on snow layer to reveal bison’s face and front legs

Step 3: Add more color

For a dramatic touch, Larson added a Gradient Fill layer using the Violet, Orange preset, before setting the Blend mode to Overlay and reducing the Opacity to 60 percent.

Add Gradient Fill adjustment layer, set blending mode to Overlay, and reduce opacity for photo composite effect

Step 4: Keep focus

To keep the focus on the bison’s face, Larson adjusted the Gradient Fill angle to 0 degrees. She clicked on the gradient to open the Gradient Editor and shifted the violet color stop and the Color Midpoint to get the desired effect. 

Set the gradient fill angle to 0 and adjust color midpoint

Get twice the exposure.

Find pairs of photos to combine in your photo gallery and have fun creating fresh takes. 

Combine images and photos to create composites in Adobe Photoshop

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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