Create a Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial I’ll show you how to create a double exposure effect in Photoshop. The double exposure effect can be achieved through combining multiple stock images, experimenting with blend modes and using adjustment layers. We’ll also learn how to make transition between multiple images and blending them nicely using the layer mask. Follow the tutorial and find out more about it.

Tutorial Resources

Open up the Photo

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following settings:


Step 2

Place the old man to the main document and place it as shown below. I’m using this old man image for this tutorial, but feel free to choose your own. You can also use the image like a silhouette or almost dark, so the blend mode gives you the effect.

Also, make sure whichever image you are using, it should have a solid background that means no details on the background.


Step 3

As a said, we should use the image which has neutral background, but using images from free sites always have some issues. In my case the background is solid, but it is not white.
To fix this, use a Curves adjustment layer to increase the lightness of the background.

The aim here is to whiten the background so the city, which we are going to add later, will be only visible on the old man not on his background. You can add an adjustment layer by clicking on the third icon at the bottom of the layer panel.




Step 4

Since we have applied the effect to the entire image and obviously, it will affect the many other parts which we don’t want. The better solution of this is to mask the effect over the image where we don’t want. Remember to leave the brighten effect on the hair as we need some lights here in order to create the light effect.

On the layer mask of Curves, mask the effect on the selected parts. Because we’ve applied the Curves for the background not for the old man. Use a soft round basic black brush for masking.


Here we’ve the white background:


Here you can compare the before and after results:


Create the Double Exposure Effect

Step 5

In this step, we’ll create the double exposure effect by adding the city image and then blending it properly using blending modes. Also, this step can be experimental for you as well like you can try adding different photos here to see which photo gives you the best results. So feel free to choose the images which you like and this can be a city, creek, forest and any image.

Place the city image to the main document. Use the Transform Tool (CTRL +T) to enlarge it and make it fit nicely into the main document like shown below.


Change the blend mode of the city layer to Screen.


Here we’ve our double exposure effect:


Step 6

This step is to enhance the effect which we have created so far. We’ll make the image more surrealistic by revealing the beard of the old man.

Add a Layer Mask to city image. Activate the Brush Tool (B). Set its opacity and flow about 30%. Now mask the highlighted parts of city image as shown below to reveal the old man’s beard and some face parts. This will create a surreal effect like his beard hanging over the road. If you want, you can also go for revealing other parts as well.

Try to achieve a smooth transition between the old man and city image. Don’t rush it and do it patiently.




Add the Birds

Step 7

Create a new layer and name it ‘birds’. Load the bird brushes and paint some birds as shown below. Feel free to paint them wherever you want to.


Reduce the opacity of birds layer to 60% and fade them into the lights of the city. This will also help us to blend the birds with lights which we are going to create in the next step.


After reducing opacity:


Create the Light Effect

Step 8

Create a new layer and name it ‘light’. Set the foreground color to #5a4119. Now using a soft round brush, paint some lights as shown below. Do use a bigger brush for painting the light.


Set the blending mode of the light layer to Linear Dodge and reduce its opacity to 69%.


Final Adjustments

Step 9

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and make some colors adjustment. Only change the value of Midtones.




Step 10

Add a Selective Color adjustment layer and enhance the red colors tones.




Step 11

Finally, use Color Lookup adjustment layer and choose the Tension Green file.


Set the opacity of the Color Lookup to 70%.

Here are the final results:


Layer panel arranged:



Thanks for following the tutorial. In order to create a double exposure effect, try to experiment with images, blend them using blend modes and adjustment layers like you have already seen in the above mentioned steps. Do share, like, tweet if you really like it and feel free to let me know if need any help. Have a great day!


  1. Oh my gosh this is so cool! btw i replaced the old man with a fish and it looks great. This is by far the best adobe photocshop cc 2015.

    1. Hey Ravi, we don’t provide PSD file for tutorials. I don’t think so you need a PSD file to complete this tutorial. All the steps are explained properly in order to achieve the final outcome.

  2. Great tutorial Bunty!! A couple of Adjustment Layers new to me – thanks again!!
    I didnt download the “Birds Brush” – just found a nice flock of birds instead on the web and turned it into a png 😉

  3. Muchas gracias por el tutorial. espero que después de este pueda hacer dobles o mas exposiciones tanto en PSD como en cámara, ya que entiendo que el sistema y base es la misma; es decir crear un fondo lo mas claro posible y continuo y el motivo principal lo mas oscuro posible dentro de un orden, es decir con un importante contraste como contraluz entre sujeto y fondo, después combinar la segunda toma en cámara con una exposición acorde que mantenga contraste entre ambas: no se si es así, al menos es la idea que he cogido de este tutorial, aplicado a la propia cámara.

    Estupenda la información y detallado y exhaustivo tutorial.

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