Overlays add awesome texture, grunge, color, or sparkle to pictures. But if you’re like me (in which case I’m so sorry), you might be overwhelmed, not knowing how or where to start. First up: the basics Open your photo and overlay. (for this example, I used overlays from “More Grungy Overlays“) 

Drag (or duplicate) your overlay to the photo file. Resize as necessary. The picture is no longer visible, so go to the dropdown menu (“normal” is what you see before you change anything). Unfortunately (?) there’s no one-size-fits-all as far as layer styles. It depends on the photo, the overlay, and the user. I usually just try all the options until one of them gives it the look I want. You may want to reduce the opacity if it’s just too much, but you know the overall feel is close.

You can add another overlay and repeat the process, using different layer styles, if that’s the look you want. (I seem to like 2-3 stacked overlays).


Next: tweaking it more What if there’s a funky texture on someone’s face? You could just delete the overlay where it covers the face, but if the overlay adds color, it will look pretty weird. What I typically do instead is use a gaussian blur. Using the marquis tool (“marching ants”), select the part of your overlay where it distracts from your photo. Set “feather” to about 30 px. Go up to Filter>blur>gaussian blur, and adjust the slider until it’s the look you want. Hit “okay.” (OR…use “Blur Just Here” from “Scrapper’s Toolbox” and all you have to do is select the area you want blurred out. The action does the rest of the work for you!)

Want to try this, but don’t have an overlay yet? If you sign up for my newsletter (where you’ll get tutorials every 2 weeks), you’ll get this beautiful overlay as a free download: