Step 1 - Isolate the Portrait Image
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 and opacity as needed.
Step 2 - Landscape Image
Take the landscape image and paste it into the working document. Then change the colours to black and white with the Adjustments Layer (Image > Adjustments > Black & White).
Step 3 – Double Exposure Effect
Create a selection of the portrait image and add a layer mask to the landscape 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 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. 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) 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 erase all the parts in excess.
Step 5 – Tone the Image
At this point, duplicate the portrait layer and change the colors to black and white with the Adjustment Layer (Image > Adjustments > Black & White). Then 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
Add a layer mask to both portrait layers and with a Soft Round brush 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. Create a duplicate of the portrait layer and change it’s Blending Mode to Soft Light (Layer > Blend Modes > Soft Light). Next with the use of masks and opacity adjustments, erase all the parts in excess.
Step 8 – Add Images
Import another landscape image on the bottom of the figure to obtain the ground effect.
Then try to merge it with the portrait using the Soft Light Blending Mode (Layer > Blend Modes > Soft Light).
Step 9 – Add Details
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, 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.
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.
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 the community. To show your appreciation, visit one of Emi’s sites below and show some love: