How to Blend Layers in Photoshop: Complete Guide

By Tata Rossi 11 days ago, Photoshop Tips

Interacting layers in Photoshop is a great way to achieve different and original effects in your shots. All such operations are referred to as blend modes, the most popular of which is the composition of two or more photos. However, there are actually more modes and in this step-by-step tutorial on how to blend layers in Photoshop, I will describe 4 different and most interesting ways.

Auto-Blend Layers: Depth of Field Blending

Auto-Blend Layers in Photoshop is designed for flawless stitching and combining your photos into a single composite picture with seamless transitions. The essence of this function is to apply a layer mask to those layers where it is required in order to mask under and overexposed areas, as well as discrepancies in the content.

Aside from this, Auto Blend Layers Photoshop allows for blending several photos of the same scene, shot with a different focus, to obtain a composite picture with increased depth of field. This also applies to shots of the same scene taken in different lighting conditions, which you can combine into an amazing composition. What’s more, with this command you can also create attractive and high-quality panoramas.

Step 1. Copy or Place the Images

copy or place the images to blend layers in photoshop

To get started, your pictures must be copied or placed in the same document. All images subject to combining will appear as different layers.

Step 2. Select the Layers

select the layers to blend layers in photoshop

Choose the layers to be blended.

Step 3. Align the Layers

align the layers to blend layers in photoshop

Layer alignment is available both manually and through the Auto-Align Layers option. If you choose the latter, Photoshop will recognize similar parameters for each layer (such as edges or corners) and align all layers accordingly.

You can find the function like this: Edit > Auto-Align Layers and then alignment. When creating a panorama, or when you’re merging multiple shots with overlapping zones, it’s best to choose one of the Auto, Perspective, or Cylindrical parameters. In the case of aligning scanned photos with some offsets, the Reposition Only parameter will suit you.

Step 4. Choose Auto-Blend Layers

choose auto-blend layers to blend layers in photoshop

Keep your layers selected and click Edit > Auto-Blend Layers next.

Step 5. Select the Auto-Blend Objective

select the auto-blend objective to blend layers in photoshop

Next, select one of the two blend layers Photoshop options:

  • Panorama is used for blending overlapping layers into a panoramic picture.
  • Stack Images option is chosen for blending the best details in each respective zone. It’s better to choose this one in combination with aligned layers.

Step 6. Select Seamless Tones and Colors

select seamless tones and colors to blend layers in photoshop

Seamless Tones And Colors is designed for adjusting color palettes and hues when blending layers in Photoshop. Use the undo and redo in Photoshop if needed. Click OK.

Step 7. Wait for Downloading

wait for downloading to blend layers in photoshop

At the end of the download, you will have one image with a multiple exposure effect.

auto-blend layers result

Use Layer Opacity

The next option on how to blend layers in Photoshop is playing around with layer opacity, which results in a double exposure effect. For the best result, you will need two harmonizing photos.

Step 1. Open Images

open images to blend layers in photoshop

Open 2 images and align them similarly to the previous tutorial.

Step 2. Change the Layer Opacity

change the layer opacity to blend layers in photoshop

Click on the top photo to select it to start working on it. Next, go to the top of the Layers panel, find the Opacity slider, and click on the arrow next to it.

Move it to increase the transparency of the top photo. As you move the slider, you’ll see the bottom photo appear underneath the top one.

Step 3. Play Around with Opacity Level

experiment with the opacity to blend layers in photoshop

To achieve the perfect transparency value, move the slider slowly. Apart from this, you can enter a certain value in a special field, for example, 70, to get 70% opacity. The greater the transparency effect, the greater the blending effect will be.

use layer opacity result

Use Layer Blend Modes

Blend Modes are a great option for adding texture to your shot. These modes also do a good job of managing adjustment layers and blending multiple photos (more than 2), since the application of different modes of blending layers in Photoshop becomes available. Blend Modes will also come in handy for those looking for how to use Photoshop overlays.

Step 1. Open Both Images

open both images to blend layers in photoshop

First, you need to open two of your pictures in one document and align them. The same size of both photos is a prerequisite. If the sizes are different, fix it by going to Edit > Transform or by pressing Cmd + T on your keyboard.

If you look in the Layers panel, you will see each image on a separate layer. The portrait is on the background layer, and nature is on the layer above it.

Step 2. Change the Blending Mode

change the blending mode to blend layers in photoshop

Go to the top of the Layers panel and find the Opacity slider. Next to it, you can see the selected layer blend mode. Initially, it will be a standard option – Normal. It indicates that your layer does not make any interactions with what is underneath it.

By clicking on the arrow next to it, the blend layers Photoshop menu will open. There you can check all the modes, which are conveniently divided into groups, separated by lines. The first group is darken-based interaction modes.

The second block refers to the modes interaction of which occur due to lightning. The third group contains modes that blend by changing the contrast, etc. If you have a new version of CC, then you just need to hover over the mode of interest and see what changes are happening to your project.

Photoshop offers over 25 Layer Blanding Modes. Several frequently used are as follows:

  • Normal (Shift + Option + N): Layers do not interact with each other. Only the top one is visible.
  • Multiply (Shift + Option + M): Multiplying the original color with the blend one. The result is darker colors in the picture.
  • Color Burn (Shift + Option + B): An even darker output image than with Multiply mode. The result is high color saturation and enhanced contrast. In the case of blending with white color – no change.
  • Lighten (Shift + Option + G): This mode preserves the light tones of the top photo, while its darker tones are overlaid with the light tones of the bottom photo.
  • Screen (Shift + Option + S): This blending mode reduces contrast and brightens colors. At the same time, mixing with white colors, as a result, you will also get white colors, and mixing with black, nothing will change.
  • Overlay (Shift + Option + O): In this mode, Screen mode is applied to light shades and Multiply mode to dark ones.
  • Color (Shift + Option + C): This mode is designed to preserve the color of the layer, combining hues and saturation.
  • Luminosity (Shift + Option + Y): Used to keep the luminosity and blend the remaining parameters.
use layer blend modes result

Using a Layer Mask

If you are interested in how to blend layers in Photoshop in a different way, then try layer mask. The main difference between this method and those described above is the precise and complete control over the image blending parameters.

Step 1. Open 2 Photos

open photos to blend layers in photoshop

Open the photos. Each of them will be on separate layers – you can see it in the Layers panel. Select the girl photo layer.

Step 2. Choose the Quick Selection Tool

choose the quick selection tool to blend layers in photoshop

Choose the Quick Selection Tool and select the silhouette. You can use the Lasso tool in Photoshop to do this.

Step 3. Click on the Layer Mask

click the layer mask to blend layers in photoshop

Hold down the Alt/Option key and click on the layer mask that hides the background.

Step 4. Swap Layers

change layers to blend layers in photoshop

Drag the background layer above the portrait layer.

Step 5. Choose Create Clipping Mask

choose create clipping mask to blend layers in photoshop

Go to the Layers panel and choose the top layer. Next click Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

Step 6. Decrease Opacity

decrease opacity to blend layers in photoshop

Slightly reduce the transparency on the top layer.

using a layer mask result

If you don’t understand how to blend layers in Photoshop on your own, contact the professionals. They can blend photos naturally and create an image to grab attention on social media and blogs.

Bonus Tools

bonus tools for photoshop

This set of actions will help you create eye-catching double-exposure images. There is a set of 7 tools with which you can create realistic images hassle-free and in a matter of minutes. For the first photo, it would be better to choose a male or female portrait, love story shots, or even photos of pets, captured in either a studio or outdoors. Nature scenes, inspiring inscriptions, or other portrait shots can best complement the first frame.


  • • What are Photoshop Blending Modes?

Blending Modes are designed for blending layers in Photoshop, thereby giving a new look to their hues, saturation, brightness, or even all at once. They will help you avoid creating layer masks when applying overlay, texture, or point changes to your photos.

They are also great at making non-destructive changes, as they only affect the visual without affecting the pixels. Therefore, changing or deleting the selected Blending Mode is always available.

  • • How do Blending Modes work?

Each mode works according to its own model and formula. It uses colors and defines a pixel blending formula, as well as combinations of hue, saturation, and lightness.

In order to see the effect of blending, take at least two layers, where the base will be the bottom one, and the top layer will be the overlay. The blending mode will determine how the above formulas will work on your layers.

When you apply any blending mode, pixel blending starts and it is performed for each individual pixel in the Blend layer in relation to the respective pixel in the Base layer.

  • • What are Neutral Colors?

A neutral color is one that does not work when blending. They can be found in Some Blending Modes. Multiply Blending Mode is no exception. Its neutral color is white. This means that when applying Multiply on white pixels, they will become transparent.

Screen Blending Mode also has a neutral color. In this case, it’s black. Just like white in Multiply, black will become transparent when Screen is applied.