Duotone Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop — How to Achieve It


In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a duotone double exposure effect in Photoshop for a more dramatic, vibrant image composition!

What is Double-Exposure?

A double-exposure shot evokes a dramatic feeling in a still shot. This technique is a technique for analog film cameras where you can adjust the aperture to half the amount to double the exposure in one frame and produce a unique image.

While digital photography can have in-camera features for that, you can always manipulate two photos and create the same technique with the help of Photoshop.

Setting Up The Document for The Duotone Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Open the two photos in Photoshop: Dancer 1 and Dancer 2.

We will now align these photos and make sure that the background is as close as possible to identical and the dancers are the only thing that changes between the photos.

First, place both photos onto the same document.

If you have both images open in two different tabs, you can enable the Move tool, and drag one image into another image’s document tab in PHotoshop. When the tab switches over you can release to drop the photo in this second document.

Move Tool

When you hide or disable the top layer by clicking on the eye icon, you will notice that the photos are not aligned.

To align them automatically, select both layers by holding Shift and clicking on both.

Then go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers > select Auto > press OK and wait for Photoshop to align these images for you. 

For Projection, set Auto

After applying the auto-align, there may be areas in the canvas that reveal transparent pixels or seams.

To remove noticeable seams, create a layer mask by clicking the Layer Mask button at the bottom of your Layers panel.

Click the Layer Mask icon

Select the Brush tool and in the Options bar, click on the drop-down menu to adjust the Brush settings. 

Set the brush Hardness to 0 so that you can paint with a soft brush.

Set Brush Hardness to 0%

Set the Foreground color to black and paint on the Layer Mask to hide the seams in the image.

Set Foreground Color to Black

If you make a mistake, you can paint with white to reveal pixels you accidentally hid.

You may need to make other adjustments to your image.

Creating the Duotone Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Start by converting each layer to a Smart Object. To do so, right-click and select Convert To Smart Object.

PRO TIP: A Smart Object will allow you to make adjustments, distortions, filters, and transformations nondestructively.

Make both layer black and white by selecting each layer and going into Image > Adjustments > Black and White > press OK.

Go to the Layers panel and double-click to the side of the layer to open the Layer Style window.

Go to the Layers Panel

In the Advanced Blending Options, you can blend layers together by unchecking the RGB checked boxes.

Advanced Blending Options

Click here to learn more about Blending Modes!

Unchecking one of these boxes is equivalent to turning off the light.

Upon unchecking the R (Red) channel, the only visible colors will be R (Red) and its complementary color, Cyan.

Note: If you want the other layer to display Cyan and not Red, you can always check the Red and uncheck the other boxes instead. This step also applies to other channels.

Upon unchecking the G (Green) channel, it will reveal its complementary color, Magenta.

Upon unchecking the B (Blue) channel, it will reveal its complementary color, Yellow.

Adjusting the Blend

To adjust the blend and achieve the duotone double exposure effect in Photoshop, create a new Levels Adjustment layer.

Select Levels

Clip the Levels adjustment layer to the layer below by pressing Ctrl G (Windows) or Command G (macOS).

A clipping mask will allow you to make adjustments and only affect the layer directly below the Levels adjustment.

You can then use the levels adjustment layer to change how the image blends to the layer below.

Making the image darker will bring in more of the Red, and making the image brighter will bring more of the Cyan. Adjust the Levels Adjustment according to your preference.

Adjusting the Hue and Saturation

You can adjust the hue and saturation of the image by going to the adjustments and selecting Hue/Saturation

Select Hue/Saturation

Adjusting the Hue slider will allow you to shift the hues of the colors in your image. Since all the colors that we create with the RGB blends will be complementary colors, when you shift the hue, you will also get complementary colors.

Adjust the Hue Slider

Adjust the Saturation slider to enhance the richness of the colors.

If you want to target individual colors, click on the drop-down and select the color that you wish to adust.

Once you are happy with the new adjustments, select the layer on top > hold Shift > click the bottom layer > right-click > Convert to Smart Object. The layers will combine into one single smart object and you can treat this composite as a single image.

Convert to Smart Object

Now, go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter to open the window that allows you to adjust the tonal controls and color.

You can use the sliders in this filter to adjust the image further.

When you are satisfied with the tonal and color adjustment, press OK to exit the Camera Raw filter.

Select Camera Raw Filter

With this technique, achieving the duotone double exposure effect in Photoshop is just right at your fingertips and you can apply special effects and several blending modes to choose from.

Adobe Photoshop can do wonders to your images and the Photoshop Training Channel is here to teach you the tips and tricks.

As a treat, here’s another Double Exposure Effect tutorial that you can do in Photoshop!

Final Image

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