With the iPhone, photos can be realistic – or they can be fantastical. It’s tough to create unique works of art just by tapping the shutter on the iPhone. But by layering images we can bring our most imaginative ideas to life. In fact, layering is one of the best ways to enhance, adjust, and transform your photos into breathtaking works of art. In this tutorial, you’ll learn three simple, effective ways to use Superimpose layers to create a whole range of fascinating new photographic art.
What Is Layering?
Simply put, layering is placing one image on top of another and blending them together to create a far superior photo. In the old days of photography, this was called double exposure. Some of the most fantastic photographs result from layering.
How difficult is layering? With the wealth of powerful iPhone photo apps out there, it’s incredibly easy to create beautifully unique and artistic images using only your own photos. In this tutorial, you’ll discover three easy ways to do just that, using a popular editing app called Superimpose.
When you’ve finished this tutorial you’ll know how to:
- Use basic layering to create interesting “double exposed” photos
- Use layers to achieve an artistic palette and better exposure
- Add depth and creativity to simple images to create unique masterpieces
Preparing your Photos
Always start with good images. It’s a mistake to think you can fix bad photos through editing. The images you choose can be straight out of your iPhone, or you can decide to edit your images first. When you choose two photos to layer together, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:
- Choose photos that are more or less the same size and aspect ratio (shape). Once you master basic layering, you can get more creative.
- Choose photos that compliment each other in some way. You should be able to easily imagine the two images coming together to make something beautiful.
- Choose photos that are simply composed. Photos with clear subjects and negative (empty) space are examples of this. Extremely busy photos generally will not layer well with other images.
The photo below is a good choice for layering. The subject (the leaf) is strong and clear. There’s a good amount of negative space surrounding it. And there’s interesting texture and detail, which will blend well, adding depth to your photo.
This is an example of a photo that will not work well for layering. The subject fills the entire frame. There’s no room for your second image. Layering a photo this dense and busy will produce an image with no clear focal point.
There are many layering apps available, but only a few that are as simple and effective as Superimpose. In this tutorial, you’ll learn to layer with Superimpose – but of course you can use the same techniques with any dedicated layering app.
1. Use Superimpose Layers To Create Double Exposure Photos
To create a basic double exposure image (with your own artistic twist) you’ll need two images that you think will blend well. You’ll start with a relatively empty background image (as shown above). You’ll then add an image that you think will work well with that background.
Your first step will be to open Superimpose. Next, tap on the Layer icon (two overlapping rectangles at the top left), and then tap on the iPhone Photo icon. Your camera roll will open up, and you’ll be able to select any image you like. Load a photo into Superimpose as the background, crop if you like, then tap Choose.
Next, you’ll load a foreground image. Tap the Layers icon again, and select the Foreground option. Choose an image that will become your foreground. The image will appear on your screen as a smaller photo than the background
Now you’ll tap the Transform icon at the bottom of the screen so that you can size and blend the images. You’ll use your fingers to enlarge the foreground to fit perfectly over the background (or you’ll keep the image smaller if you prefer).
You’ll then tap on the Blending icon (two gears at the top right of the screen) to open a new tool bar. This tool bar includes an Opacity slider that allows you to play with the transparency of the foreground layer.
Under the slider, you’ll see many blending modes. Try starting with the Normal mode and playing with the opacity until you like what you see. You can also experiment with the different modes, which appear under the Opacity slider.
Once you master the basics of simple layering, you can also experiment with Mask mode. This tool allows you to pick and choose which parts of each image you’d like to see. This works particularly well when you want to add only small elements of one photo to another. This is known as compositing and it’s a more advanced form of layering.
Here you can see the fully blended image.
And here’s the final version, with some additional editing.
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2. Layer Two Versions Of The Same Photo
One of the easiest and most effective ways to create a stunning, artistic effect is to layer a color and black and white version of the same photo. You can edit these photos separately if you like, but often it’s not necessary. Layering them together often accomplishes in one step what would otherwise take multiple steps to do.
Here’s how to do this with Superimpose layers.
First open the app and click on the Layer icon (the two rectangles on the top left of the screen). You will now be able to import a background and foreground image from your photo library. Load the black and white version as the background. Next, load the color version as the foreground.
Tap the Transform button on the bottom of the screen. This will allow you to expand the foreground so that it matches the size and shape of the background.
Now, tap the Settings button (gears) on the top right of the screen. This will open up a set of tools that will allow you to adjust the opacity and blending modes until you find what you’re looking for.
Notice how much truer and softer the colors look. The exposure is more natural, and the details become more pronounced. With this clever trick, you’ll save yourself many editing steps.
And here’s the final version, with no additional editing. You’ve created a mini-masterpiece in moments!
3. Layer The Same Image Multiple Times For Unique Effects
Sometimes you have a photo that you know you could improve. The instinct is often to over-edit. But that’s usually a bad choice. Here’s a very simple layering trick that can transform something nice into something spectacular without ruining the integrity of the original image.
First, load your image as the background.
Next, load the same image as the foreground.
In this case, you might decide not to align the two images perfectly. By having two different sized versions of the same image, you can start to build an interesting effect.
Tap Transform. This will allow you to try moving your images around and/or resize them.
You can also tap the Settings button at the top right and use the tools that appear on the screen to blend the images in different ways. Try playing with the images by adjusting the opacity and perhaps experimenting with blending modes. If you’re happy with your two layered images, you can save your photo.
Another option is to merge the two photos. To do this, tap the Settings button and then choose the third icon from the left (an arrow pointing downward toward two lines).
You can even add the same image to the foreground so that you have three versions of the same image all working together to create a single photo.
Experiment as you please by moving the image around, changing its size, and experimenting with blending modes.
And here’s one possible finished version.
Once you get the hang of layering, you’ll begin creating increasingly amazing photographs. Your only limitation is your own imagination. Layering is a fun and incredibly valuable skill to develop. And it will take your iPhone photography to the next level… and beyond!
You can create vintage looking masterpieces…
Images straight out of your dreams…
Scenes beyond this world…
Or anything your heart and mind can create. Happy layering!
In this tutorial you’ve learned three quick, easy ways to use Superimpose layers techniques to create rich, complex images. Have fun playing with Superimpose, and be sure to explore more of our tutorials on using the Superimpose app to replace backgrounds and create unique compositions.