How to Use Double Exposure Photoshop Actions

Pretty Actions Double Exposure

How to Create Double Exposure in Photoshop

Double exposure is a photography technique that combines two images into one that can produce some incredibly beautiful results.

Here at Pretty Presets & Actions, we are always looking for ways to help you speed up your workflow.  So we have put together a powerful set of Double Exposure Photoshop Actions that will allow you to create better double exposure images quickly and easily.

We know that some of you learn faster from written tutorials, and some of you prefer video, so we have put together BOTH just for you so that you can quickly be on your way to creating amazing images with our Double Exposure Photoshop Actions!

Lightroom & Photoshop Facebook Group

Basic Double Exposure Overlay Instructions

First, open Photoshop and click the Double Exposure Action of your choice.  For this example, I have used the Square Double Exposure Action.

Here are the two images that I am using for the first example:

How to do double exposure in Photoshop

How to make double exposure in photoshop

Follow the these simple prompts as the action runs. They will go like this: 

Play Double Exposure Action>Open Main Image>Press Enter>Open Image To Be Overlayed>Press Enter.  (Note: you must press enter after your images are opened to allow the action to keep running)

Here are a few tricks to keep in mind when using the double exposure actions:

  • Duplicate your overlayed layer if you would like to intensify the effect.
  • Use a soft, black brush at a low opacity to selectively remove portions of the overlay if you feel they are too strong in certain areas.
  • Move your overlayed image around!  Sometimes, the best placement isn't directly on top of one another. In the examples below, I moved the overlays until I was happy with how the trees lined up in the model's hair. 
  • Experiment with different Blending Modes at varying opacities.  Mix and match! For example, you could have the Blending Mode of one overlay set to Soft Light, duplicate the layer, and set the Blending Mode to Screen. 
  • You don't necessarily have to use a black and white image, you can use two color images, or two black and white images if you wish!

Okay, let's get started. Here are the steps to take after you run the action:

Step 1.  Use the Photoshop Move Tool to place your overlayed image.

Step 2.  Experiment blending modes and opacities.

Step 3.  Select a soft black brush at low flow and opacity to remove unwanted areas

Step 4.  Click on the layer mask of the background image layer and apply finishing layers, textures and pastels.

Double exposure photoshop tutorial

Double Exposure With Subject on White Background

A really popular technique for digital double exposures is to have the subject on a white background, with the double exposure overlaying the subject only, not the background. 

First, let us show you have to get your subject on a white background.  It's easy!

Step 1.  Use Photoshop Quick Selection Tool to select the subject.

Step 2.  Go to Select > Refine Edge.  Under view, set to on white. Put a check mark in the smart radius box.  Adjust edge: increase sliders a bit.  Use brush on edges of subject to blend and smooth.  When done, press "Okay" on the refine edge panel to close the panel.

Step 3.  Duplicate the layer so you have a background copy.  Right click subject selection and select inverse.  Go to Edit > Fill and set contents to white.

Double exposure photoshop

Now that you have your subject on a white background, go ahead and Save the file so that you can access and open it easily when you run the double exposure action. 

For this type of double exposure, you'll play the action and follow the same steps that you did above.

Step 1.  Click on the overlay (background) layer.

Step 2.  Select the Photoshop Move Tool to move and/or stretch your overlayed image until your are satisfied with the placement.

Step 3.  Change the blending mode to see what works best.

Step 4.  Duplicate background and change blending mode on new background layer.

Step 5.  Select and use a soft black brush at low flow and opacity to remove unwanted areas - do this on both background images.

double exposure photoshop step by step

At this point, you can either call your image done, or you can keep playing by adding some additional effects like textures or coloration just like we did in the first example (these are included in our Double Exposure Photoshop Actions set)!

Now, for those of you who love to watch Photoshop tutorial videos, here is the video version that will show you how to achieve double exposure overlays, as well as step by step instructions on how to put your subject on a white background.

Double Exposure Video Tutorial


Do you have any questions or comments about Creating Double Exposure Images?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

Film Photoshop Actions