How to Make an Overlay in Adobe CS4


An overlay is a separate layer that adds interest to a composite image. Effective overlays may contain elements such as textures, gradients, solid colors, images, polka dots, straight lines, wavy scribbles or other graphic elements that reinforce the work's message and mood. Adobe Photoshop CS4's overlay blending mode option multiplies or screens an overlay layer's colors, in conformity with the colors that reside beneath it. Highlights and shadows remain while the overlay's colors mix with the dark and light areas of the image beneath an overlay.

  • Open the Adobe Photoshop CS4 file that contains the layers with the image and the item that you would like to turn into an overlay. Create a file with an overlay layer by pasting the object for an overlay onto its own layer, if necessary. The image and overlay layers should occupy the same amount of space, unless you are willing to mask the unappealing edges after finishing the overlay.

  • Prepare your file's work area. Your layers must be in view to create an overlay. Select "Window" then choose "Layers" to make the "Layer" panel visible. Move the file's canvas so that the "Layer" panel and the artwork are in clear view.

  • Organize your layers. The layer that is to become an overlay must reside above the image in need of an overlay. Shuffle the layers by clicking on them and dragging them into position.

  • Set an overlay-blending mode from within the "Layer" panel. Click on the layer's dropdown menu and choose "Overlay." Find this dropdown menu on the left side of the "Layer" panel, next to the layer's opacity controller.

  • Adjust the intensity of the overlay by altering the layer's opacity. Set the layer's opacity to a low number for a subtle overlay effect or leave the opacity at 100 percent if the overlay's effect is satisfactory without an opacity change.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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