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How to Use Overlays in Photoshop

Published: 17/06/2021

If you want to know the answer to how to use overlays in Photoshop, then this article is for you. Here, you will find a comprehensive step-by-step tutorial on using overlays in Photoshop. This guideline will help you take your images to the next level with overlays quickly and naturally.

How to Use Overlays in Photoshop

Overlays are a remarkable Photoshop feature that allows you to add an extra dimension to your otherwise regular photos. With overlays, you don't have to spend hours or apply various complex techniques to make your photos unique and interesting. You can do that easily by just applying an overlay in Photoshop.

From attractive textures to beautiful lighting effects, overlays are some of the easiest, quickest, and simplest ways to make your image stand out. Before proceeding with how to install and use overlays in your Photoshop project, let’s first understand what overlays are and why they are so useful in producing incredible effects on images.  

What Are Overlays in Photoshop?

A Photoshop overlay is essentially an image that is added to your Photoshop project in the form of an extra layer. These images produce interesting textures or unique lighting effects in your image. You can find a huge array of Photoshop overlays over the internet, depending upon your requirements. 

When you add an overlay to your images in Photoshop, it enhances the look and design significantly. Moreover, you can do all that in a very easy manner in minimum time. So, let’s find out all the steps you will have to follow in order to add overlays to a Photoshop project.

Using Overlays in Photoshop

Photoshop overlays are very easy to install and use on any of your Photoshop projects. These are only images, so you can load them in Photoshop like any other image. The steps to use overlays in Photoshop are:

  1. Photoshop overlays do not come built-in with Photoshop. You will have to download them from the internet. Download and save your overlays file to any location where you can find it easily. Usually, this is a .zip file. You can easily unzip it with the default unzipping application or any other application of your choice. 
  2. Now, launch Photoshop and open up the image you like to work on. To open the image, you can follow any of the methods below:
Clicking on the ‘Open’ button on the Photoshop homepage
  • Go to File > Open. Find the image that you want to work on, click on it, and then select ‘Open.’
  • Press CTRL + O, find your image, and then click on ‘Open.’
  1. Now, open your Photoshop overlay. To do this, go to File > Open. find and select the overlay file that you want to use and then click on ‘Open.’
Opening Photoshop overlay
  1. Now you will see that your overlay file is open in Photoshop. However, it will open as a different document in a different tab. 
Photoshop overlay opening in a different tab
  1. You will then have to add it to your Photoshop project. You can do this by following any of these methods:
  • Pick the ‘Selection Tool’ from the toolbar. Click on your overlay image, and then press CTRL + A. This will select your entire overlay image. Now, go to Edit > Copy or press CTRL + C. This will copy your overlay image. Now, switch the tab to go to your Photoshop project. Go to Edit > Paste or press CTRL + V. This will add your overlay image to your Photoshop project.
  • Another way is to use the drag and drop method to bring overlay into your Photoshop project. Open the tab of your overlay image and click on the picture. While pressing down the mouse button, drag it all over to the other tab. This will open your Photoshop project. Keep moving to the image, and release the button once you reach it. Your overlay will be added to your project.
  1. The overlay you just added will automatically have its own layer within your Photoshop project. Make sure to resize or reposition it if needed.
Photoshop overlay added having its own layer
  1. From here on, you can follow any number of procedures in order to make the overlay and the primary Photoshop image blend naturally with each other. Here, we will change the blending mode. Click on the blending mode drop-down menu within the layers panel. Now, from the drop-down menu, you can select any mode you like, and that meets your requirements.
Clicking on the blending mode drop-down menu within the layers panel
  1. You can also use various different Photoshop tools and features to blend your overlay with your image whichever way you want. Some of the most effective tools include the Hue/Saturation tool, changing the color of your overlay, adjusting the layers opacity, using brush tools, and many more. 
  2. Once you are content with the blending of the overlay with your image, you can merge the layers so that it becomes a single image.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Different Types of Photoshop Overlays?

There are many different types of Photoshop overlays. You can find and use any of these overlays that help you achieve your image editing goals. Some of the most common Photoshop overlays include:

  • Light Overlays
  • Graphic Overlays
  • Background Overlays
  • Water overlays
  • Sky overlays
  • Color overlays
  • Pattern overlays

Can I Apply Two Different Photoshop Overlays on a Single Image?

Yes, you can apply two different Photoshop overlays on a single image. You will have to follow the same procedure explained above. However, instead of one, you will have to open and add two different overlay images to your Photoshop project.

Moreover, after the addition, you may have to apply more blending and adjustments so that all your layers blend together nicely and naturally.

What Is Overlay Mode in Photoshop?

Overlay mode and overlays are two entirely different features in Photoshop. In the overlay mode, Photoshop blends the top layer and the bottom layer together such that it produces a contrast in the image. On the other hand, overlays are using external images to produce certain effects on your image.

Can I Remove an Overlay After Completing Its Blending With My Base Image?

Yes, you can easily remove an overlay after adding it to your base image in Photoshop. This is due to the remarkable layer feature in Photoshop, which adds the overlay in a separate layer. So, if you want to remove it, all you have to do is remove the overlay layer.

Removing an overlay after completing its blending with my base image

Conclusion

Now you know all about overlays in Photoshop. It is the easiest and the fastest way to transform your images. By adding special effects and an extra dimension to your photos, overlays in Photoshop can elevate your ordinary photos to a whole new level. Just add an overlay, and get your desired photo texture instantly.

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