In this quick tutorial, I'll show you how to create this awesome double exposure effect in Photoshop.
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We start off with a picture of a forest, and another of a fox. The first thing we need to do is duplicate our fox image twice. Then we create a group folder and place both our fox duplicates inside. We also place our forest image, sandwiched in between the two foxes.
Now that we have our layers sorted, it’s time to start working on the main mask. We’re going to use the original fox layer to create this. Firstly let’s desperate the image by going to Image…Adjustments…Desaturate. Then we increase the contrast by going to Image…Adjustments…Levels and moving the centre slider almost all of the way to the right. This has created a simpler, higher contrast image that will be easier to refine the selection of.
Next we grab the Quick Selection tool and select our fox. It doesn’t need to be accurate though because, once we’re done, we’re going to click the Refine Edge button. This brings up a tool that allows us to set our computer to work, refining the edges of the fur for us. We simply highlight the areas we want to compute and it does everything for us. Once we’re done we change the output to layer mask and click OK.
Now that our mask has been created, we drag it into the middle of our group folder tab. This applies the mask to all layers within the group folder. We don’t need our original fox layer anymore, so we delete it.
Having prepared our main mask, we can start working on the actual composition. Let’s begin with the bottom fox layer which we’ll be turning into a ghostly background. We add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and then clip it to the fox layer by hovering over the boundary between the two, holding down the alt or option key, and when the icon changes, clicking. Next we shift the hue into the blue end of the spectrum and lower the saturation. Then we lower the opacity slider until we get a subtle faded effect.
Now let’s work on our forest. It’s noticeable that we can move our forest around, and it will still conform to the edges of our group folder mask. So we can use the transform tools to scale and rotate it into position.
One problem I notice though, is we can no longer see our ghostly fox background. So we’ll need to create some transparency into our forest image. We do this by going to Layer…Layer Style…Blending Options. This allows us to blend transparency into the lighter areas of our forest layer, by moving the top-right slider to the left. We can also soften the blending by holding down the alt or option key and clicking to detach the secondary slider. Once we’re happy with the layer blending we click OK.
It’s now time to put our main fox image back in. We select the top fox layer and then make it visible again. We don’t want to see all of it though, so we add an inverted mask to it by holding down the alt or option key and then clicking the mask button. This allows us to apply a soft white brush to the mask, to paint it back in to our composition. It’s worth taking some care at this stage to make sure it blends really well with the forest.
The composition is looking great now - so we can start tweaking our image layers.
One thing I don’t like is how harsh the color transition is between the forest and the fox. We can soften this by clipping a curves adjustment layer to the forest, raising the red curve and lowering the green and blue curves. This takes a bit of tweaking until we can get the color just right. I don’t want to lose all my green though, so I fill the adjustment layer’s mask with black, by going to Edit…Fill and selecting black from the drop down menu. This allows me to apply a soft white brush to the mask to subtly paint the brown adjustment back in to the areas where I want it.
I finish up with some quick color grading, using a filter plugin called Color Efex Pro 4. This allows me to use a few extra filters like tonal contrast that aren’t available to me in Photoshop.
I’m really happy with my fox now. There’s a cool double exposure effect, that tells a story about the animal’s habitat. And we can use this same technique to create all kinds of amazing images. I’d love to see what you guys can come up with!
That's it for this tutorial. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and hit the like button. And I'll see you next time!
Forest Image - http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-236999848
Fox Image - http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-128926670
If you can't afford these on shutterstock, you can search google for "forest above misty" and "fox snow" which should both bring up some viable images :)