How to Create a Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

How to Create a Double Exposure in Photoshop

Double exposure! Are you familiar with this fancy term? If not, this tutorial will be super handy for you. Even if you are, you will pick up something new and exciting from this tutorial.

If you are a showbiz-freak, oftentimes, you have noticed two overlapping images on movie posters, magazines, covers of music album, and ads. And they create a mind-blowing effect, don’t they? Also, it has been one of the hottest trends since its arrival.

Scores of photography wonders have come and gone in no time. But double exposure effect is something that people love and apply in many of their projects. Hence, it hasn’t faded away yet. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a double exposure effect in Photoshop.

Before we cut to the chase, let’s understand what actually double exposure is.

What is Double Exposure?

Double exposure is a simple yet eye-catching exposure effect, created in photography and cinematography. It’s basically a combo of two exposures or images where one is layered on top of the other and is create a single image.

Basically, if you expose a frame or photo and take another shot without advancing the film, it’s nothing but double exposure. Photographers often leverage this technique to create stories, convey messages, and produce mirror images, as well as ghost images.

How to Create a Double Exposure in Photoshop | Simple Steps

Now, let’s get straight to the process of creating a double exposure in Photoshop. In this tutorial, we have chosen two photographs- one is portrait with a side profile and the other one is a mountain photo.

1. Open the First Image:

Open the First Image

At first, open the first image in your Photoshop window.  In our case, we will open the portrait image that we have selected.

2. Select the Subject of the Image:

Select the Subject of the Image

Next, click the Quick Selection tool to select the subject of the image and remove the background of the image. Select the subject gradually to maintain perfection in the selection.

3. Copy and Rename the Background Layer:

Copy and Rename the Background Layer

Now, go to the layer panel and copy the background layer pressing the Ctrl + J. Once the background layer is copied, rename it.

Delete the background layer

Delete the background layer now. For that, right click on the mouse and select the “Delete Layer” on the menu. You can also drag the layer at the bottom and drop it on the delete icon to delete it.

4. Create Adjustment Layer:

Create Adjustment Layer

At this point, go to the bottom of the layer panel and hit the “Create a color fill or adjustment layer” icon to create an adjustment layer. Then, select solid color from the menu. After that, pick white as the solid color.

5. Desaturate the Model Layer:

Desaturate the Model Layer

Next, move the model layer above the adjustment layer. Once you are done with it, you have to desaturate the model layer. For that, move to the Image tab on the menu bar, click Adjustments and then select Desaturate. You can also press Ctrl + Shift + U as a shortcut to desaturate the layer.

Image > Adjustments > Desaturate

6. Drag and Drop the 2nd Image:

Drag and Drop the 2nd Image

Now, it’s time to drag and drop the 2nd image that you want to create double exposure with. After you select the image, drag and drop it on your 1st image. Change its layer opacity to 50% to view both images at the same time. The images will appear as overlapping each other.

7. Adjust the Image Positions:

Adjust the Image Positions

Here comes the most exciting part as you can now tweak the positions of images along with flipping the positions. Press Ctrl +T, click right on the mouse, and then select “Flip Horizontal” or “Flip Vertical” as per your preferences.

You can also hold “Shift” and move the position of the selected image to bring out a view that you wish.

8. Bring out model layer selection:

Bring out model layer selection

Select the model layer, press Ctrl and click the model layer once. Instantly after that, the model layer selection will show up.

9. Create a Layer Mask of the Mountain Layer:

Create a Layer Mask of the Mountain Layer

Now, select the mountain layer, create a layer mask of it from the bottom of the layer panel. With that, a silouhette will appear.

10. Duplicate the Model Layer:

Duplicate the Model Layer

Now, make a copy of the model layer and select “Lighten” on the blending mode.

11. Add a Layer Mask of the Model Layer:

Add a Layer Mask of the Mountain Layer

Select the mountain layer thereafter and make sure the selection is on the layer mask. Then, delete the specified area again to reveal the face.

12. Use Both Layer Masks of Mountain & Model Layer :

Use Both Layer Masks of Mountain & Model Layer

Select brush tool and keep the background color black or White and paint to reveal portions and make the result

13. Double Exposure Effect – Final Output:

Double Exposure Effect – Final Output

Now, select the mountain layer, duplicate it by pressing Ctrl+J. Then, select the layer mask and delete it dropping on the “Delete” icon.

Select the blending mode to “Lighten” to view the final output- Double Exposure Effect.


That’s all we had in this long but exciting tutorial. To get our next tutorial, keep an eye on our blogs. To get our regular updates, follow us on our social media channels. Have a pleasant time!