Design Challenge Day 15: Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

If you haven't noticed, I'm a day behind (again). Last Thursday was my daughter's third birthday and I took the day off to bake her a cake and celebrate parenthood with my husband. (I am learning that May was perhaps not the wisest choice for a tutorial-a-day challenge.) At any rate, while it's technically Day 16, here is Day 15's tutorial: creating a double exposure effect in Photoshop. I chose a tutorial on creating a double exposure effect in Photoshop by one of my go-to resources, Spoon Graphics.

The Process

To follow along with this particular tutorial, you'll need two images: one of a woman (preferably against a studio background) and another of a natural landscape. I found mine on Pixabay, choosing this photo of a young woman with a pensive look to be combined with this photo of sunset at the North Sea in Denmark.

Starting with portrait image, the first step is to separate the subject from the background - the reason you want to find a studio-style portrait. This is achieved by copying the channel with the most contrast and then adjusting the midtones and shadows in Levels to darken the image, then painting over any remaining highlights to leave a solid black silhouette. Go back to the original RGB channel, Command-Click the copied layer and Select Inverse, then copy into a new layer. Fill the original background with white and then copy the landscape image into a new top layer. Command-Click on the portrait layer, then apply a Layer Mask to clip the landscape to the silhouette.

Copy the original portrait layer to the top layer, desaturate, then change the blend mode to Multiply. Use a large, soft black brush to mask away everything but the facial features and then reduce the opacity to get a softness in the final image.

Double exposure effect in Photoshop

The Presentation

My normal complaint about tutorials from Spoon Graphics is that they move too quickly for me to keep up. There were several comments to that effect on YouTube, but interestingly, this was one of the tutorials I was able to have at 75% speed and keep up relatively easily. This might be a function of me getting better at Photoshop! That said, there are several steps that Chris breezes through without providing the shortcut or commands to complete.


I absolutely loved the finished project from this tutorial. Masking has been troublesome for me but I felt like this was a turning point for me when I both started to feel more comfortable using layer masks *and* understanding how they work. Practice makes perfect, so I plan to play with layer masks quite a bit in the coming weeks.