Make striking double exposures and learn key layering techniques in Affinity Photo

Watch the video: Create double exposures in Affinity Photo

Double exposures are among the easiest effects to try on your photos. Merging two images into one is not only eye-catching but also allows you to explore conceptual themes in your photography.

With your choice of photos, you can create conceptual images that spark ideas and ask questions. You could evoke a mood of big-city melancholy like this, or juxtapose themes.

The technique is simple in Affinity Photo and provides an ideal introduction to several layering tools and tips. We start by copying one image on top of another, so they each sit on their own layer. Once that’s done, we can use a layer blending mode to blend them together, so the brighter parts of each image appear, like a double exposure from an old film camera.

After that, we can refine the blend by adjusting the positioning and using a layer mask to control which parts are visible. Finally, we can add a black and white effect to make everything gel.

The real skill here is choosing images that work in harmony with each other. Strong, bold shapes, like the silhouetted couple and the building here, tend to work really well – you can download the two starting images (double_1.jpeg and double_2.jpeg) here. But it’s worth experimenting with different photos in your own picture library to see which works best.

Of course, not only do we have the freedom to try out different photos, but we can also experiment with their positioning and sizing, so that we can align each image to create a satisfying whole, or even a narrative.

01 Copy and Merge

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Open our splash images (download here) or the ones you want to use, copy one with Cmd/Ctrl+C, navigate to the other image and paste it with Cmd/Ctrl+V. Go to the Layers panel, click on the blending mode drop-down and change Normal to Screen. This combines the brightness values ​​of each image.

02 Adjust the positioning

(Image credit: James Paterson)

With the top layer highlighted, grab the Move Tool from the toolbar on the left. Drag the shot to change the positioning, and if you want to resize the image, drag the corner of the bounding box. Adjust the placement until the images fit the way you want.

03 Add Layer Mask

(Image credit: James Paterson)

The edges of the top layer here look messy, so let’s hide them. Click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to the top layer. Get the Brush tool, set the color to black and reduce the brush hardness to 0%, paint to hide the edges of the layer.

04 Convert to mono

(Image credit: James Paterson)

We can use an adjustment layer to convert the image to monochrome. With the top layer highlighted, click the Adjustment icon in the Layers panel and choose Black & White. Adjust the black and white sliders to control the brightness of color ranges.

05 Adjust brightness

(Image credit: James Paterson)

In double exposures, we double the brightness of our images, so we often need to darken one or both images. Highlight the bottom layer, then click the adjust icon and choose “Brightness and Contrast”. Lower the brightness until it looks correct.

06 Add split-tone processing

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Click the Adjustment icon again and choose Split Toning. Use the sliders to add tint to highlights and shadows and adjust the strength with the Saturation sliders. Make any other tonal changes you want to complete the image.

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