Double Exposure Photoshop Tutorial in 10 Steps

In this tutorial I show you how to create a double exposure Photoshop effect , using a beautiful portrait of a woman and a photo with some pine trees.

Step 1 – Cut out the model with the Pen Tool

To obtain a nice double exposure Photoshop effect, you will need to have a white background behind your subject so use the pen tool to make a selection around the model.
And here is a shortcut: hit the “P” on the keyboard and the Pen Tool is active now.
After the cut-out, I called this layer “model”.

Step 2 – Create a white background

Create a new adjustment layer called Solid Color and make it pure white. Drag this layer down to the bottom and rename it “background”.
Add a Black and White adjustment layer above the model layer.

Step 3 – Bring in the pine trees and resize the image if needed

Now it’s time to bring the photo with the trees into the document. Just choose the Move tool (shortcut: “V”) and drag in the image. If the photo with the trees is bigger than this document, you will have to resize it. Hold down the SHIFT when you scale it down to maintain the proportions.

Step 4 – The perfect blending mode for a double exposure

Rename the layer to “trees”. With the layer still selected choose the Screen blending mode.
Yes, you start seeing the double exposure effect.

Step 5 – Increase contrast for the “trees” layer

Add a Black and White adjustment layer and clip it to the “trees” layer. This means you only apply this effect to the layer underneath. Play with the presets and choose the most suitable one. I’ve chosen the High Contrast Blue filter.

As a result, with this adjustment layer I just got rid of the green areas of the trees, I created more contrast and the Screen blending mode is doing the job really well.

Step 6 – Move the trees in the perfect spot

Move the trees until you find the best spot in the head area. Make sure the “trees” layer is selected, grab the move tool and move left and right, up and down, until you’re happy with the result. You can also use the keyboard arrows to move the image and if you want to move it faster, hold down shift and press the arrow keys.

Step 7 – Brighten or darken specific areas if needed

Remove the grey part of the model’s head with a Levels adjustment layer. I clipped it to the Black and White layer by holding down ALT or OPTION on a MAC. It’s the same thing if you right click on the layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.

Drag the highlights slider to the left, while keeping an eye at the grey area, where the head is. Make sure you go just until the grey disappears. Don’t go too far because you will affect the trees.
Rename this layer and call it “Head”.

Add a new Levels Adjustment and drag the mid point slider to the right until I see that the white edge on the neck slowly disappears. Invert the layer mask, take the white brush and apply the effect only where it’s needed. Use a 10-15% flow for the brush for more control.
Rename this layer and call it “Neck”.

Step 8 – Hide distracting elements

The ear of the model was visible through the trees and I wanted to hide it. With the “model” layer selected, I added a Curves adjustment and darkened the image.
The curves adjustment already has a layer mask so it can be inverted to black by pressing CTRL + I. With a white brush apply the effect where it’s needed.

Step 9 – Change the background color

You can change the look of the image instantly if you choose a light grey color for the background instead of pure white. The “trees” layer will start being visible and that’s kind of interesting.

Step 10 – Add some colors to create the mood

You can try this by adding a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Put it on Soft Light blending mode. Then double click it to start changing the colors.
A Gradient Map let’s you choose the color for shadows and highlights. I inserted these values:
Shadows: 84562e
Hightlights: 9bf7eb
If the effect is too hard, you can lower the opacity of the adjustment layer anytime.

Looks like you’re done and the double exposure Photoshop effect is ready!

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Big shoutout to Andrew Applepie for the background music:

Photo with the woman:

Before and After – Double Exposure Photoshop

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