Hi, I’m Emi Haze. This is my cover illustration for the Italian edition of “Vanishing Girls” the young adult novel by New York Times best selling author Lauren Oliver and it is based on the double exposure technique.

Double exposure or multiple exposure is a photographic technique that combines two or more different images into a single image. Traditionally, this is a technique in which the camera shutter is opened more the once to expose the film multiple times, usually to different images. Nowadays we can recreate a similar effect in Photoshop with the help of Blend Modes – Multiply, Screen, Overlay – in combination with various masks and appropriate selections.

Bringing together two or more photos creates a coherent image that can be beautiful, nostalgic or unsettling, depending on what photos you use and how you combine them.

With double exposure, you can create a surreal and fantastic world beyond our imagination.

The reason for using this technique varies, but they are surely created for the same purposes – beauty and uniqueness.

Personal Introduction - Emi Haze

I began with painting and drawing when I attended the art high school. Then I discovered the digital art and I connected this great passion of mine with technology, taking a degree in graphic design and commercial art at the Design Institute Palladio in Verona.

In my opinion everything in every moment has an artistic side, the aesthetics of things, people around me… For me everything has its own importance, images, textures, sounds, fragrances, my creativity is constantly stimulated.

In my works the human being melts with nature and its four elements to give birth to my inner world, ethereal and imaginative, hanging in balance between reality, dream and fantasy, in which colour and sensitivity have the predominant role. An harmony that binds man and nature in a perfect way and which unfortunately nowadays seems to be a utopia.

Piles of tree branches, clouds forming hair, faces that melt with air and sky, human silhouettes that arise from expanses of earth and roots… this is my visionary world.

I’ve worked for several clients and big agencies like Adobe, Wacom, Penguin Random House, Microsoft, Getty Images.

Recently, I collaborated with the agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco and Adobe to be part of the Adobe Photoshop 25th anniversary “Dream On” Oscars Spot which was featured during the Academy Award Oscars 2015 ceremony and was part of an international bigger campaign.

I’ve achieved a Gold Winner Award in Multimedia / Online Advertising Design at the IDA Design Awards 2015 of Los Angeles and a Silver Winner Award in Photography and Photo Manipulation Design at the A’ Design Award and Competition 2016 in Italy.


1 Lessons


6 Hours


Skill level: Intermediate / Advanced


Software: Photoshop

Step 1 - Isolate the Portrait Image

I begin by clipping out the subject from the portrait photograph. Use the Pen tool and closely follow the outline of the girl’s profile. Roughly follow the outline of the hair, cutting into the portrait by a few pixels to avoid capturing the background between the loose hair strands.

To fix areas, create a layer mask and use the Brush tool with a Soft Round brush to paint black to hide and white to reveal. Adjust brush size opacity as needed.

Step 2 - Landscape Image

I take the landscape image and paste it into the working document. Then I change the colours to black and white with the Adjustments Layer (Image > Adjustments > Black & White).

Step 3 – Double Exposure Effect

I create a selection of the portrait image and add a layer mask to the landscpe image.

Unlink the image from its mask by clicking the chain icon between the thumbnails in the Layers panel. This will allow you to move and scale the image independently from its mask, so the mask will stay in place while you find the best composition.

Then I try to merge the trees with the underlying layer with Soft Light Blending Mode (Layer > Blend Modes > Soft Light) to obtain the double exposure effect. I duplicate the layer two/three times with the same Blending Mode until the exposure and contrasts satisfy me.

Step 4 – Rotate and Resize

Now with the Free Transform Mode (Edit > Transform) I use the bounding box to rotate and resize the layer to find a pleasing angle for the trees that covers the entire portrait.

When playing with images during the initial deployement and arrangement stages, keep your layers as Smart Objects (Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Objects). You’ll be able to scale and transform with impunity, always maintaining the original integrity of the images.

Finally with a layer mask I erase all the parts in excess.

Step 5 – Tone the Image

At this point, I dupilcate the portrait layer and change it the colours to black and white with the Adjustment Layer (Image > Adjustments > Black & White). Then I lower the opacity on the original coloured portrait layer at 40% to reveal a hint of the skin tones.

Step 6 – Add Shading with Masks

I add a layer mask to both portrait layers and with a Soft Round brush I hide the top of the head.

Step 7 – Reinforce the Details of the Portraits

If some details of the portrait has become buried under the onslaught of nature images, It’s time to reinforce it. I create a duplicate of the portrait layer and change his Blending Mode to Soft Light (Layer > Blend Modes > Soft Light). Next with the use of masks and opacity adjustments, I erase all the parts in excess.

Step 8 – Add Images

I import another landscape image on the bottom of the figure to obtain the ground effect.

Then I try to merge it with the portrait using the Soft Light Blending Mode (Layer > Blend Modes > Soft Light).

Step 9 – Add Details

I add some retouches and details like the birds on the top of the head to enrich the image.

Step 10 – Final grading

In the end, after some retouching to finish the work, I add a light brown background gradient over the image and proceed with the final colour grading using a Hue/Saturation layer (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation), Curves (Image > Adjustments > Curves) and Levels Adjustments Layer (Image > Adjustments > Levels) in association with some Blending Modes (Layer > Blend Modes).

The completed image boasts the full double exposure effect. The sharp lines of the silhouette really stand out from the background while the addition of the subtle portrait layer being back some facial details. Unlike the traditional camera method though, this artwork can be changed and altered, allowing you to test out different backgrounds combinations and see the result as you work.


What we have Learned

Following this tutorial, you will learned the fundamental steps to create a fantastic and unique double exposure.

What Next

Photoshop gave me the chance to combine drawing, painting and photography together to make my dreams and ideas come true.

Digital art is nowadays becoming increasingly important and it will exponentially grow in the future. The potentials offered by technology are endless and they can perfectly fuse with our manual skills. The only limit is our imagination.

The advice I would give is to have patience but be persistent, have an open mind and try to always inspire your creativity.

Final Image

Emi Haze Links

A huge thank you to Emi Haze for taking the time to create this awesome tutorial. Not only a fantastic artist but also willing to give back to your followers and other artist alike. To show your appreciation, visit one of Emi’s sites below and show some love.


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