What Are Photoshop Overlays?

Photoshop overlays

What Are Photoshop Overlays?

and How to Use Them

Photography has been around for many years now – more than a century, to be specific. However, the photographs we know of now are not nearly the same as the ones we had back in the day. The technology surrounding pictures and the essence of photography has seen such a massive upgrade in the past couple of years that taking good quality photos in an instant seems like a normal part of life now. Companies are trying to raise the bar higher every single year, and the techniques that go into video-making and photos seem surreal to look at after they’ve gone through their fair share of editing. It’s shocking to see that even mobile phones, being as compact as they are, contain such high quality cameras that it’s hard to differentiate them from industry standard professional cameras.

However, these pictures have seen more innovation from the photographers themselves than from the cameras being upgraded by companies. People have found newer ways to up their game when it comes to taking photos, and have constantly reminded us that the sky’s the limit when it comes to this profession. A whole science goes into taking a decent photo, as many of these professionals teach in their courses and videos. You need to find proper dimensions, and use your surroundings to the best of your abilities to make sure that you’ve captured the scene properly. You also need to make use of the lighting, and enable light flares to enter your lenses to give it that cinematic effect. People have gotten so creative that they use things like paper to create blurred effects and whatnot.

Now, although there are brand new ways that you can take photos with nowadays, there are still some boundaries that limit you. Not everyone can afford a camera that allows for a bokeh effect, which is known as the blurring of the background as you take a photo. Not every camera has the ability to capture light flares. There are even instances when the light source isn’t good enough for you to do anything about it. That is why design companies have been trying to break this barrier and offer such editing effects to the common person sitting at home wanting to put these effects on their pictures. Adobe has been one of the pioneers of photo editing, and one of the best apps you can choose to make use of these effects is the Adobe Photoshop Overlays feature.

What Are Overlays In Adobe Photoshop?

Photoshop offers a tremendous amount of features and tools for you to edit your pictures with. You can change the basics of what makes a picture when you want to edit it, such as the brightness, saturation, hues, and so on. It can also allow you to change your pictures’ background to something of your choice, or even remove objects from the background completely. However, we’re here to talk about the feature of adding overlays in your pictures.

Overlays are basically just image files that can be used in Photoshop, that allow you to put them on any picture of your choice to add that effect on it. These are mostly transparent files with the effect part being slightly opaque, that gets added over your pictures as an extra layer. Overlays help users to add unique effects to your pictures that were not present in the picture when it was taken in the first place. You could add on layers to mimic a scenario in your picture that you otherwise would’ve had to put a lot of work in physically. With the help of this feature in Photoshop, you can easily change the whole feel of a picture on an app.

How to Apply Overlays on Your Photos

Adding overlays on your pictures is fairly simple to execute. We have a step-by-step guide for you mentioned below.

Step 1 Open Your Picture

Firstly, you need to go to File, and then click on Open in Photoshop. Open the picture you want to put the overlay on in Photoshop, and let it load.

Step 2 Go To The Folder Where Your Overlays Are

Minimize Photoshop, and find the folder where all your overlays are stored. Locate the effect you want to choose.

Step 3 Drag The Overlay Effect In Photoshop

Now you can just do the first step here again, and open the effect as well. However, a simpler way to do this instead is to drag the overlay file from the folder, and drop it inside Photoshop. This will be much faster and more efficient.

Step 4 Resize It

Once your overlay effect is in Photoshop, make sure to resize it to fit your picture, and place it where you need it to be.

Step 5 Adjust The Settings

Even though the overlay files are usually translucent themselves, make sure you tweak the transparency of the effect to make sure it fits well, and looks natural with your photo as well.

Types of Overlays Effects That You Can Use

There are many kinds of effects that you can use to take your pictures to the next level, but some work better than others. However, you need to have an understanding of how to use these effects. For instance, there is an overlay that adds bokeh lighting to your photos. Now, using this layer in a picture of you during daytime would not work, so make sure your picture is in a dark place at night to fully take advantage of it. Similarly, there exist effects of sunlight bleeding that offer the effect created by the sun at the edge of pictures during the day. You need to make sure you use this in an appropriate picture as well. Other common effects can include light flares, or an effect of rain or snowfall that will enhance your image.


All in all, Photoshop overlays are a great way of elevating your photo quality, and posting pictures that stand out from the rest. If you choose the right one for your photos, they can elevate them drastically.

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