Recently, I wrote an article about grunge overlays without actually explaining what overlays are. I apologize for the oversight.

 An overlay is simply a picture, pattern or graphic design that is used in Photoshop to add texture to an image.


 To apply an overlay, simply open the photo you want to edit in Adobe Photoshop.  Then open a new empty layer in Photoshop above the original image (background) and add the image you want to use as the overlay. Change the layer mode of the overlay layer to either soft light, hard light or overlay and then reduce the opacity to somewhere between 20 to 50%. If you want to use multiple images as overlays try to lean towards the lower end on opacity (around 15 to 20%) and let the effects build up. Some artist use over 10 overlay layers in their images. As a finishing touch I usually add a hue/saturation adjustment layer to tweak the final image.


 Tip: if you want to reduce the effect on the subject, use the lasso tool to select the subject then add a gausian blur (found in the filters menu) and apply it at 250 pixels on every overlay layer –Not on the Original Image. If you use the eraser or layer mask, you will affect the color casts created by the overlay.


For some samples of before and after images, click on my facebook link or go to facebook and search for the tags “grunge and outofnapkins“.  If you want to see how cool overlays can be, check out the portfolio from Sallee Photography – (Sallee Photography is one of the best wedding photography studios in the nation.) It might be hard to tell, but they use overlays on virtually every image. The beauty of their use of overlays is that it is very subtle but also very striking and gives a look that isn’t something that you can get straight out of the camera.  By the way, they have years of education and experience in photography, fine art photography and in photoshop (all help tremendously in creating such beautiful images).


 Next week I’ll have a look at how to speed up your photoshop with an “actions” tutorial.