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How to Overlay Photos With Creative Photoshop Effects

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Read Time: 5 mins

Photoshop actions can add a quick, creative flare to our images whilst keeping their integrity. In this tutorial, we'll look at How to Overlay Photos With Creative Photoshop Effects while making sure they still look like your photos!

Not everything has to scream off the page, and less, is often more. We'll take you through three top actions for Adobe Photoshop available from Envato Elements, where you can download unlimited resources on a simple monthly subscription.

Using the Actions

You'll need to install each action into Photoshop.

1. Seasalt Flares Collection

Seasalt Flares offers a collection of actions and overlays to give your images gorgeous tone and light with a simple click. There are descriptions of each set, so you won’t have to waste time running each one just to find out what it does.

Example Image

Photo by Jordan Andrews on UnsplashPhoto by Jordan Andrews on UnsplashPhoto by Jordan Andrews on Unsplash
Photo by Jordan Andrews on Unsplash

When you look at the Seasalt action folder, you’ll see there are many different options. Some allow you to only run one at a time, and some let you ‘play all’ so you can flip between them and see the effect.

Seasalt is broken down into many folders and layers

The best way I’ve found to work this is to ‘play all’ on the ones you can, and then test the others one by one—trial and error.

Using combinations of the results can work really well, so don't feel you have to be limited to one colour or one tone, for example.

seasalt after runningseasalt after runningseasalt after running
These are the options I've chosen

You can see from the above image the options I've selected. Try to make reasonable decisions based on the image for more natural results. For example, I've tried to use colours that compliment the existing ones, and I've selected the flare to come in from the left as that's the side the model's face was lit from when the photo was taken.

Each folder has more options inside so you can tweak the results, and these can also be masked out selectively, if you want to avoid colouring some parts of the image.

The Result

seasalt before and afterseasalt before and afterseasalt before and after
Seasalt before and after

Seasalt also comes with some overlays which can be dragged and dropped onto your image for added effects.


2. Timberwood Authentic Actions

Timberwood includes 5 creative toning actions for Adobe Photoshop. They're particularly suited to outdoor photography, be that landscape, portrait or editorial. 

Example Image

Photo by Martin Jernberg on UnsplashPhoto by Martin Jernberg on UnsplashPhoto by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash
Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

The only bone I have to pick with Timberwood, is that it flattens after it runs, so while it won't actually touch your background layer, it does merge all of the action's folders at the end of the run, creating just one layer of the changed image above your original.

The Result

As there are five options with this, it seemed sensible just to show you all five!

From top left to bottom right:

  • Timberwood
  • Timberwood 2
  • Timberwood 3
  • Timberwood 4
  • Timberwood 5 Faded

I appreciate that this is a great image already and it can be hard to see the changes made, if subtle, from an action. So, here's my favourite one, Timberwood 5 Faded, at full size.

timberwood 5timberwood 5timberwood 5
Timberwood 5 Faded

It's just a shame we can't tweak, but for a one-click fix it's pretty good.

3. Genesis Action Collection

Genesis Action CollectionGenesis Action CollectionGenesis Action Collection
Genesis Action Collection

Genesis Action Collection includes 28 Photoshop actions. This collection is inspired by the natural world, and designed to give your images deep rustic toning.

Example Image

Photo by Demetrius Washington on UnsplashPhoto by Demetrius Washington on UnsplashPhoto by Demetrius Washington on Unsplash
Photo by Demetrius Washington on Unsplash

Much like Seasalt, Genesis breaks down into a number of options.

genesis layersgenesis layersgenesis layers
Genesis layers

You can see that some of these can all be played at once, allowing you to switch on and off to see the effects, and some you'll need to play individually until you get the result you want.

The descriptions are a good indicator of the result, so you can make an educated guess as to what will work best with the colours in your photograph.

after with layersafter with layersafter with layers
After choosing some colour and tone options

The options above are a nice mix of cool matte and warming up the highlights so skin tones don't look too cool.

The Result

before and afterbefore and afterbefore and after
Genesis before and after

The great thing about Genesis is that it also has a black and white option. Here's how that looks.

Photo by Jeremy Liew on UnsplashPhoto by Jeremy Liew on UnsplashPhoto by Jeremy Liew on Unsplash
Photo by Jeremy Liew on Unsplash

I particularly love this result as it really is a one-click way to add depth and drama to an image. The colours of the original could be a little distracting, but flip it to black and white with a matte overlay and you've got something that works so much better.

More Photoshop Resources

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