Preparing our images
We'll be using two images to create the double exposure effect, which you can find in the attachment section. The first image is a portrait of someone, and the second one could be a landscape, for example, a city landscape.
Cut out the woman to separate her from the background using the Pen Tool (P) > Make Selection and then create a mask on the “Woman” layer using that selection and the button on the bottom of the layers panel. Now you should have the woman with a transparent background.
Create a new layer using Shift + Ctrl + N and paint it white.
With the Woman layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and set the grey tones to 1,30 and the white tones to 232. Now our image will be much brighter and have better contrast.
Now let’s make our image black and white. To do that, go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Shift + Ctrl + U).
Finally, repeat the same steps with the city landscape image. Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Shift + Ctrl + U).
Making the double exposure effect
Place the city landscape image on top of the Woman layer and with the landscape layer selected, press Ctrl + Click on the Woman layer and you will now have the the silhouette selected.
Now, with that selection, press the Add Vector Mask button which is at the bottom of the layers panel, and now the landscape will have the woman's shape. If you click on the “chain” between the layer and the mask, you can now move the landscape freely without changing its shape.
Select the Woman layer, create a duplicate by pressing Ctrl + J and place this duplicate above the landscape layer. Now go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and set the black tones to somewhere around 120. Now this duplicate will be much darker.
With the duplicate Woman layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Check on Colorize and set the Hue to 325 and the Saturation to 13 to give our image a very smooth pink tone.
Right-Click on the duplicate Woman layer’s mask and select Apply Layer Mask so that the image is cropped with the mask’s shape.
Now go to the Blending Modes tab on the Layers panel and select Screen. You will see how the duplicate now blends into the landscape image.
Some parts of the image will look too pale, especially the parts mixing with the sky. To fix this, create a New Layer and select the Brush Tool (B) and a black foreground color. Now with a soft airbrush, make a few dark spots on the pale parts and you will see how it gains much more contrast.
Now, select the city landscape and go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/ Saturation. Set the values to the same as we did for the duplicate: Hue to 325 and Saturation to 13.
Also, you can see how the black tones of the landscape are really dark, so let’s go to Image > Adjustments > Selective Color. On the pop-up panel, on the Colors drop menu, select Blacks and now on the handles, set the black handle to -21%. Now the black tones will be a little lighter.
Finally, if you turned off the chain between the landscape layer and the mask, you should be able to move the image freely without moving the mask. This will allow you to place the image in the position you like the best. Some parts will look better on different images. I moved the image all the way to the left so that there is less sky and more landscape.
Congratulations! We’re done!
And that’s it! Now we have a really nice looking double exposure. Try this out with different images and see what you get.