Tips For Using Our Overlays

Tips for working with overlays:

I not only want you to purchase my overlays, I want them to look fantastic in your images. You should not be able to tell that they were added after the shot was taken. All overlays sold on have been tested and used in images prior to being put up for sale.  All overlays sold on are the creation of Amy Masser of Baby Face Photography. Please see terms and conditions for acceptable uses.

There are a few techniques you should be comfortable with before you start using overlays to enhance your images. Burning, Dodging, Cloning, Blurring, Erasing (softening the edges),and Masking. Below is a brief explanation of when and how to use these techniques.

It’s always a good idea to make a duplicate copy of the overlay layer prior to making a permanent change like dodging, burning, blurring, cloning or erasing.

Shadowing (burning):

Everything has a shadow. Sometimes it’s darker, sometimes it’s lighter. If you are not sure where a shadow is going to fall in your image look at the shadows of the other objects in your image. Are they soft, hard, what direction are they falling in? If you still aren’t sure, take a quick shot with a similar sized object in the spot where you will be adding your overlay. Use this image as a reference when you are editing. Shadows touching the floor are typically thin and dark. Shadows in the foreground fall differently than shadows in the background. If it’s not already second nature, start paying attention to shadow and light. It will make you a better photographer. Nothing looks worse than when you can tell that something was added to an image because it seems to be floating in mid air. Ground your overlays with shadow.

Consider putting the shadows on a separate layer while you are getting used to your new overlay. The burn tool is quick and dirty and must be used on the layer you want to burn. It is not easily altered should you later decide to move or resize your overlay, and it doesn’t allow for a shadow color cast.

Consider using a separate layer for your shadowing. Here is a great way to do it:

     1.  Open a new layer right below the overlay you wish to shadow into place.
     2.  Select the soft round brush tool (the first box in the brush drop down menu)
     3.  Select:
                mode - soft light
                opacity - around 30
                flow - 100%
                color - black, or a very dark shade of the color you would like to cast in your shadow
     4.  Apply your shadows

Should you decide to move or resize your overlay, select both the overlay and it’s shadow layer before doing so. Shadow too dark? Adjust the opacity of the layer.

The same technique can be applied to dodging.  Just use white or very light colors. In most cases, however, the overlay it’s self requires dodging to match the lighting in your image. I prefer the actual dodge tool in this case. It’s always a good idea to make a duplicate copy of the overlay layer prior to making a permanent change like dodging, burning, blurring, cloning or erasing.


You may wish to add a highlight to your overlay to match the lighting in your image. Here is how:

  1. Make a copy of the overlay layer and turn it off (just in case you need it later).
  2. Select the dodge tool, appropriate range, and exposure.
  3. Dodge in the highlights to match your image.


I am not going to teach you how to clone. That’s a pretty basic skill. I am however going to point out that sometimes you need to clone the foreground of the image over top of the overlay at the base. For example if you put a night stand on a hard wood floor, you see it’s base and you shadow under it, to ground it into the image. However, if you put the night stand in grass or leaves, you wouldn’t see it’s base because it would be covered by grass or leaves at the bottom. To snuggle your overlays into your images simply clone a little bit or grass or leaves (or whatever soft surface your overlay is placed on) in lieu of shadowing when appropriate.

Softening the edges:

Overlays look different depending on the image in which they are being used. Some overlays look great on a lighter image, but really seem to stand out on a darker one, and vice versa. Sometimes you may not want the back of the overlay as sharp as the front of it. Should this happen the best thing to do is soften the edges of the overlay. Here is how:

  1. Make a copy of the overlay layer and turn it off (just in case you need it later)
  2. Use a soft edge eraser and erase around the harsh edge that you wish to soften


Depending on your style, you may need to add a little depth of field to the Overlay. Here is how:

  1. Make a copy of the overlay layer and turn it off (just in case you need it later)
  2. Select the blur tool, adjust the strength, and blur the overlay until it blends into your image.


I have done my best to add adjustment layers into the Overlay PSD files. While this will get your lighting close to your image, you may find that you want to further adjust the overlay layer once it has been added to your image, without effecting the rest of the image. Here is how you do it:

     1.  While on the overlay layer select the tool you would like to use from the adjustment menu

     adjustment menu

     2.  The adjustment layer should open up in the layer above your overlay layer.

     3.  At the bottom of the bottom of the adjustment menu box click on the ‘clip to layer’ icon. (It’s the one to the left of the eyeball)

     PS clipp menu

     4.  Adjust overlay layer to match the rest of your image.

Helpful Hint: One you have your overlays shadowed or cloned into your image apply your favorite action or effect to the entire image to give it an even more cohesive feel.

Tips for working with Overlay Outlet Photo Shop PSD files:

  • Save as .PNG. Once you have made your desired adjustments you must save the image as a .PNG file. This will put your image on a clear background and allow it to easily be added to other images. Make sure any background fill layers are turned off prior to saving. You should see a grey and white checkered background before you save.
  • All of the layers in the PSD files are labeled with which part of the image they effect and what they do. Starting with the bottom layer read each layer, turn on the layers you would like to use and make desired adjustments with either the opacity slider or (if you are comfortable with it) adjustment layer controls. Be sure to open all the groups and make your selections within them.
  • Changing colors. There are 2 possible ways to change colors in the PSD file. Masked layers require you to double click on the color and direct you to select your desired color from the color picker palette. Fill layers require you to select your color from the color picker palette first and use the paint bucket tool to fill the layer.
  • Color Tips

To get 2 colors within a PSD file to match exactly, copy and paste the same Hex Color Code into both layers.

The Hex code is found at the bottom, center of the color picker palette next to the ‘#’

hexx code

– To match your color to another color in your image:

  • -make sure the color you want to select appears in the highlighted layer
  • -use the eyedropper to select color