If you are a looking for an easy way to transform a photo, you can use a Photoshop overlay. Simply put, overlays let you add elements that weren’t present when you captured the image. Let’s take a look at the best Photoshop overlays for your photos.

12 Ways to Use Photoshop Overlays

  1. Bokeh Overlay
  2. Bubble Overlay
  3. Confetti Overlay
  4. Dust Overlay
  5. Film Overlay
  6. Glitter Overlay
  7. Grunge Overlay
  8. Lightning Overlay
  9. Rain Overlay
  10. Sky Overlay
  11. Snow Overlay
  12. Sun Overlay

In the past, photographers had to take steps like overexposing pictures or scratching negatives to create unique effects. Today, all you need to do is add a layer in Photoshop, drag and drop your preferred overlay, and make adjustments using opacity and blending mode to achieve your desired results. Photoshop overlay textures and patterns are sure to become a potent resource in your photography toolkit. You can also use these overlays in Adobe Elements, which is an exceptional and lower-cost software tool for beginning photographers and image editors.

How to Add a Photoshop Overlay to Your Photo

Many people wonder about how to add texture in Photoshop. The truth is, many overlay textures are easy to manipulate. Pattern and gradient overlays are easy to use as well. All you need is a basic tutorial and a bit of practice. 

First, it’s important to understand that your Photoshop overlays are actually images that sit on top of your base image to create a new effect. Whether you download free overlays or purchase an overlay pack, you can store them in a single place on your computer so that you can find them easily. After you gather a selection of overlays, you are ready to learn how to overlay pictures in Photoshop. 

When you’re ready to use an overlay, you first need to know how to add an image in Photoshop. Select File and Open to open your base image, then repeat this process to open your preferred overlay. Now go to Image Size, to scale your overlay to match the size and pixels of your main background image. Next, select your overlay image and click Copy and then toggle to your base image and select Paste. This will paste your overlay onto the foreground of your base image.

Next, set Screen as your Layer Mode. Now, adjust Opacity to touch up your overlay image. You may want to clean up select areas of your image with the Mask or Eraser and Soft Brush. Finish up by merging the layers. To see the process in action, you may want to look for video tutorial online. A Photoshop overlay tutorial can help you master the essential steps.

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After you’ve gained confidence in how to overlay pictures, why not create your own Photoshop overlay images? Any photographer can learn how to make an overlay in Photoshop. All you need to be able to do is take a photograph of a pattern or texture. 

For example, if you’re at the beach, snap some photos of the sand and waves to use as Photoshop textures. You can turn them into photo overlays and use them to enhance images of your seaside adventures. Just follow the steps above to use one of your images as a Photoshop texture overlay. 

Over time, you can even create your own Photoshop overlay sets and offer them to others. You can share a color overlay, light overlay, paper texture overlay, a grunge overlay, a rain overlay—or choose whatever suits your personal tastes. In time, you may even be able to sell overlays as part of a photography business.

Perfect Your Photos with These 12 Photoshop Overlays

With a Photoshop overlay, you can create any type of style or vibe—from a joyful celebration to a moody and rustic vintage feel. At first, your best bet is finding a reputable site that offers free Photoshop overlays to use for practice. A quick search on using the keywords “photoshop overlay free” will reveal many options for you to consider. 

You can always buy an overlay pack if you can’t find free ones that meet your needs. Or experiment with creating your own Photoshop pattern overlay (or gradient overlay) to get the exact look you prefer. You can create your own texture overlay, too. 

1. Bokeh Photoshop Overlay

Have you ever taken note of luminous round or hexagonal shapes in the backgrounds of photos? That pleasing, out-of-focus style is bokeh—a photography term that comes from the word for “blur” in Japanese.

With a bokeh overlay, Photoshop empowers you to create gorgeous images that appear to be dotted with points of light. Bokeh overlays can enhance photos of celebrations, nightlife, or the natural world. Also, bokeh overlay effects can be great assets for beginners who are learning easy ways to style photo shoots and want to make their portraits more appealing.

2. Bubble Photoshop Overlay

If you are looking for a whimsical and free-spirited feel, try a Photoshop bubble overlay. You can use lively soap bubbles with pictures of infants or children—or to add a playful look to a family portrait. Also, bubbles combined with the right costumes and props can make a photo appear to have been taken in a mystical, undersea world.

3. Confetti Photoshop Overlay

When your photo conveys a celebratory mood, why not add in some confetti? A confetti overlay can enhance photos of weddings, birthdays, or joyful events of any kind. A sprinkle of confetti can add a festive touch to life’s fleeting moments—from a child’s first steps to a career milestone.

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4. Dust Photoshop Overlay

A Photoshop dust overlay can change the atmosphere of any photo in an instant. If you want to add a natural or vintage touch—or to emphasize the ruggedness of the great outdoors, try this type of overlay effect. You can even find twinkling fairy dust overlays that can foster an otherworldly feel in your photos. 

5. Film Photoshop Overlay

There’s nothing quite like the feel of old film—with its grains and imperfections. By adding a grain overlay, Photoshop can transform a new photo into an image that looks vintage and grainy. Back in the good old days, photographers had to create this look by scratching negatives with pins. Thankfully, Photoshop can accomplish this same look quickly and easily using an overlay.

6. Glitter Photoshop Overlay

A Photoshop glitter overlay can transport you into a different world. You can add a touch of glitter around the face of models in your fashion photography. With a gold glitter overlay, Photoshop can transform a photo of a happy couple dancing in a sunlit field into a romantic masterpiece. A sprinkle of glitter around children and babies can make them appear angelic and full of wonder. 

You can find many no-cost glitter overlays by searching online. Try out several colors to see what kind of magic you can create!

7. Grunge Photoshop Overlay

For a gritty, urban feel, you can experiment with a grunge overlay. Grunge effects can feature a variety of textures—from a dilapidated wall to antique photos or coffee-stained paper. You can also find a grunge overlay that looks like fog or smoke for a vibe that can be ethereal or earthy. 

8. Lightning Photoshop Overlay

Imagine your next shot of a dark night or cityscape enlivened with a dynamic, lightning-filled sky. With a lightning overlay, Photoshop can stretch a jagged streak of electricity across your photo. Whether you want to convey the intensity of a summer storm or the unbridled energy of a concert, a lightning overlay can be a perfect choice.

9. Rain Photoshop Overlay

Photos in the rain can be beautiful—but hard to capture. On a rain-filled day, the lighting can be too dim and unwanted droplets of water can find their way on to your lenses. However, with a rain overlay, Photoshop can blend a perfect portrait or nature scene with raindrops to create this elusive shot.

10. Sky Photoshop Overlay

If you love to photograph outdoors, a sky overlay in Photoshop can be hugely valuable. At times, you may capture the perfect image—except the sky can seem dull and lifeless. With a sky overlay, Photoshop can help you fix this common problem in minutes. You can brighten up a darker sky for a daytime shot, add a breathtaking sunset, or dot a night sky with gorgeous constellations. 

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11. Snow Photoshop Overlay

A snow overlay can help you create a winter wonderland with your images. You can find overlays that add a luminous, snow-like bokeh effect to studio portraits. By using a snowflake overlay, Photoshop can transform your favorite family photo into a magical holiday scene for your seasonal cards.

12. Sun Photoshop Overlay

With a sun overlay, Photoshop can help you add light and life to your outdoor photos. There are several styles of sun overlays that you can use. A sun flare overlay can help you make a photo brighter, enhance contrast, add an edge of hard light, or create a dreamy, hazy ambiance. With a sun ray overlay, Photoshop empowers you to add streaks of light for added drama to the sky, or to highlight a focal point in your image. You’re certain to find many uses for these light overlays.

Create Unique Works of Art with Photoshop Overlays

Want a quick and powerful way to give your images a unique feel? If so, you should learn how to overlay images in Photoshop. Just follow a few easy steps or use a tutorial to master this key photography skill. Many experienced photographers find that Photoshop overlays and Lightroom presets help them make quick work of photo editing tasks.

There are Photoshop overlays available for every photo editing need. For example, you can find Photoshop color overlays that can adjust the hue and saturation of your picture. This is one of the easiest ways to learn how to change the color of an image in Photoshop. Texture overlays are widely available at every price point. Simply do a search on “free Photoshop overlay” to reveal a wealth of no-cost overlay options. 

Think of the many possibilities an overlay in Photoshop can offer you. How about a heart overlay for Valentine’s Day or a Santa overlay for your holiday cards? You can also find a vast array of overlay patterns—everything from classical polka dots and stripes to seasonal designs like flower petals and falling leaves. You can use overlays in Photoshop, or the lower-cost Adobe Elements software—which can be a great way to learn the basics while sticking to your photography budget.

Without question, learning how to add an overlay in Photoshop should be on your to-do list. It’s likely you’ll view your personal overlay collection as an essential tool for photo editing. Take the plunge and start learning about overlays today. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!

Published by Oli Dale

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