Are you one of those people who has a great photo editing program like Affinity Photo, Photoshop, or Paint Shop Pro but you have no idea how to make the most of the tools so your photos look that a little bit more special? Let me help with some inspiring ideas for one creative function you will love – photo overlays, for cat lovers.
OK I admit it, this will work for dogs, rats and bearded dragons too so let me share!
Table of contents
Learn About Photo Overlays
When you have a photo editing program you can be overwhelmed by all the options, but if you take it one tool at a time you can build your confidence and skills. Photo overlays can transform a cat photo from ordinary to spectacular and make you realise you can master a photo editing program if you take it one step at a time.
What is a Photo Overlay?
An overlay is an image you add on top of your photo as an extra layer, just like a layer you see when you slice an onion.
Your first layer is the photograph you then add layers too. When you add a second, or third layer these are added on top of your original image. Each layer will affect what the photo underneath looks like but, but it does not change or damage the original photo.
“Layers are rendered one on top of another, to create the final image. You usually edit just one layer at a time. Changing (moving, rotating, drawing into) one layer has no effect on other layers”Photopea
Are Photo Overlays Expensive?
The good news is that photo overlays come in free and paid versions.
You can use any photo as a layer but overlays are looked on as a tool to make specific, controllable changes to your photo. For beginners they are perfect and easy to use. Here’s an idea of the potential of overlays:
- Bokeh Effect
- Vintage Effects
- Light Leaks
- Weather Effects
- My overlay post about adding snow.
Why Should I Pay for an Overlay?
If you are wondering why you would pay for a set of overlays or presets when you can get them for free, I will give you one good reason – a consistent look.
Differences is a series of photographs can be smoothed out by an overlay. They are bound together by a tone, or an effect which pleases the viewer’s eye. Companies like The Luxe Lens provide a range of impressive effects.
If you want your Instagram or blog photos to give a certain impression; like nostalgia or playful sparkle, then you might prefer to add a specific effect that will draw the images together visually. This can be useful especially if you are doing a seasonal or sponsored post that needs a particular feeling.
Can My Computer Work With Overlays?
Most modern computers can work with overlays. Photoshop, one of the major software programs introduced layers in the nineties and other photo software developers did the same over time.
Where Are My Overlay Tools?
Your editing tools are in the same general areas in every software package whichever computer and software you use. The terms, functions and layout remain consistent (or very similar) because manufacturers want you to be comfortable using their software. Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop Elements or GIMP will put their tools in the same area as big guns like Photoshop or Affinity Photo and they will have instructions to help. (I am using Affinity Photo for this workflow and the video).
- For an overview of GIMPs great functionality with layers check out The GIMP Tutorials.
How Do I Add an Overlay to My Photo?
Adding an overlay is not hard, but I suggest you read through the steps here then go back and give it a try. This way you know what to expect and what is meant to happen. [Watch the video for extra insights!]
Let’s do this is two easy stages. Step 1 will set up your photo for you to work with:
- Open your chosen photograph. This is the one you want to add the new layer (overlay) on top of.
- Open your chosen overlay in a second window.
- Use Select All or Copy>Paste the image on top of your original photo. Once the overlay is copied over, you might need to resize it so it covers the photo underneath. [NOTE: Overlays are sometimes a lot larger than your image]
- If you can’t see anything underneath don’t panic. You will adjust the layer’s effect and opacity using a blend mode in Step 2.
What is a Blend Mode?
Step 2 introduces you to the fun and exciting part of creating with photo overlays. Meet your new best friends, the Blend Modes.
Blend modes do exactly what they say, they let you blend things together visually. To discover the impact of blending an image, let’s start by finding your own blend modes tool.
These are usually in a column on the right-hand side of your photo software window. Check out the chicken photo below. If you need help finding you can always email me.
Step 2. Transforming Your Image:
Having completed the setup for your photo in Step 1 you can then have some fun working magic.
- Click on the overlay layer to highlight it. (See the splash of blue in the chicken photo)
- Then click on each of the modes in turn to see the effect you get. The short video I created shows how this will look.
- If you don’t feel you are seeing enough of your original image, try moving the opacity slider to adjust how transparent your overlay layer will be.
- If you like what you create remember to save your image.
Be Funky says “By blending layers like images, text, graphics, and textures, you’re able to achieve countless different looks with your projects.”Be Funky Software
Success with Your Photo Overlays
You may not get it right first time but you will see how the software begins to treat your images so don’t be discouraged. It took me a while to realise I had an opacity slider but the discovery made all the difference.
Give yourself permission to play and make mistakes. Don’t worry about getting it right but push your software to see what happens. You learn a lot by making mistakes than by getting it right every time.
What kind of overlay would you like to add to your photos? Would your cat dance amongst the stars, waltz through bubbles, or, appreciate a subtle lense flare like the one below?
Toulouse in the sun
© Marjorie Dawson
Toulouse with Lens Flare Overlay
© Marjorie Dawson