In this tutorial we’ll cover how we can begin with a simple Threshold Adjustment Layer and end up using layers, brushes, stock images, blend modes, and straight lines to create a space styled double exposure effect in Photoshop. Check it out and enjoy! The stars image I used in this video: https://unsplash.com/photos/8FwiZcXiX_g
1. Threshold Good, Posterize Bad
Two of the adjustments that really break up an image and give you a segmented effect are Posterize and Threshold. Personally, I nearly never use Posterize and I’ve never found a real use for it in any workflow that I’ve done before. Threshold is slightly more useful and we will begin this effect with a Threshold Adjustment Layer. I set the threshold level to 100.
2. Levels Adjustment Layer
Go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels and drag this Adjustment Layer beneath our Threshold layer. I simply dragged both the black and white sliders inward a little to boost the contrast and help fill out the threshold effect above a little more.
3. Merge all to a New Layer
Hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + Alt/Opt + E to merge all of our layers up to a new layer.
4. Starry Night
Grab the starry night photo that I have linked up above and drag it into Photoshop and hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U to desaturate the image. Drag this desaturated image into the Photoshop document with the girl.
5. Free Transforming
Hit Cmd/Ctrl + T to bring up the free transform handles around the starry image and stretch it out a little so it covers our girl picture.
6. Clipping Mask or Blend Mode?
We don’t need to use a clipping mask here, we can simply set the starry night layer to the blend mode of Screen and it will drop away all the black pixels and make it look like the image is perfectly masked to our model.
7. Adding Depth to the Stars Pt 1.
Create a new layer and make sure your foreground and background color are black and white (Hit the letter “D” to do that) and then go Filter>Render>Clouds. Then hit Cmd/Ctrl + L to bring up the Levels dialog and slider the dark slider over toward the right until you get something similar to my screenshot. NOTE: We’re trying to get a fairly sharp differentiation between the light poofs and the dark areas of the clouds filter layer.
8. Adding Depth to the Stars Pt 2.
Next go Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set the angle of your blur to -29 and the distance of the blur to 2000 pixels. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + L again and drag the dark slider to the right a little bit and the white slider way over toward the left as I have in my screenshot to give up some good, high contrast streaks of light.
9. Blend Modes Again
Set this streaking light layer to the blend mode of Screen.
10. Painting in the Colors
I have a palette of these colors: #ffb8a1 – #d26871 – #82396e – #2f0e3c – #682f48 – #bb5fb6 and I am using a large, very soft edged brush to paint with each of these colors. I created a different layer for each color and set these layers to the blending mode of Soft Light. I also use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur set to 200px to really blur off the edges of our paint and ensure that our colors blend perfectly. Check out my screenshot to see my layers panel and how my colors look all blended together.
11. Accenting Colors
I’m going to grab my bright pink color and create a new layer and paint straight lines across the brightest points of this space scene in her hair. To paint a perfectly straight line, click to paint a spot and hold down shift and click where you want to line to connect to paint a straight line with the Brush tool (B).
12. Blur and Blend those Colors
Go Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and blur these accent painted lines along that -29 angle. I went with about 1000px of blur. Set the blend mode to Color Dodge and even hit Cmd/Ctrl + U to open the Hue/Saturation dialog and boost brightness or saturation if the color in your highlights isn’t popping off the screen the way you want them to be. Reduce the layer opacity if you think the accents are too strong.
13. Intensify, Accent, Blend, Build
Continue building out this effect by adding new layers, use the color white and paint smaller straight line to add tight accent and emphasis along the edges of these brighter streaks and much more! Watch the video for this tutorial to get all the details and watch me go through the process and really make this effect happen! I painted some thin white lines here and simply blurred with that same 1000px, -29 angle Motion Blur to get this effect. Be sure to watch the video at the top of this article tutorial for even more detail!
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