How to Use Overlays in Post-Production

A photo can look amazing straight out of the camera, but you can take it one step further and make it amazing with overlays and some post-production work. These can be added with the mask tool. This allows you to add texture or different images on top of the original photo. Manipulating photos can stretch your Photoshop editing skills and can make for some dreamy unrealistic photos. There is nothing wrong with creating dreamscapes or scenes that seem fake or ‘photoshopped’. This is an artistic choice that can be done and even has it’s own genre of photography style. Overlays and post-production can help you if you want to create amazing unreal photos. You can even create photos that fit a vintage or old school theme. Take this first photo that I edited below. This used an overlay. Read more to see how.

Vintage Overlays in Post-Production

For this first photo, I took his portrait in daylight. I took it into photoshop and did some post-production tweaking. The photo was originally taken with color in broad daylight. To get the right vintage look I made took it into photoshop and made it black and white. To do this I lowered the saturation and contrast to get rid of the color and made the highlights higher and the shadows darker to add some contrast in the black and white image. Adding contrast can make a huge difference when working with black and white photos. If it doesn’t have enough contrast the photo will be flat (bland). The next thing I did was add a grungy vintage overlay. I wanted something worn out and scratched so I searched ‘vintage grungy overlay’ on google. Below is the overlay that I used for this photo. I lowered the opacity and brushed it in with the mask overlay tool.

I lowered the opacity and used a mask layer tool to create add it on top of the image. I played around with the different levels of opacity to get the right look. I included the overlay I used on my photo in this blog. The photo below is the final product. The attire is very western vintage and I felt that this grungy scratched up overlay fit the vibe best on this photo. 

Selection Tool Edits

The photo below was done with the selection tool and mask layer tool. The first/original photo looks way different color wise. It is dark and over saturated. I did some tweaking and used a LUT preset in photoshop 2019. These are great to help with quick edit colors. I used a dark high contrast edit and was able to tweak the saturation a bit. This helped make my model’s skin look a lot less overly colored and saturated. This is also another way to improve your post-production work flow.

For the first photo below, I used the polygonal lasso tool in photoshop. There was no overlay used persay but still good in post-production work. With this tool you can create any shape you want to select your subject. I focused on the eyes and created a rectangle shape around this area of my model’s face. I then make a copied layer of this selection, which allowed me to move the selection over. On the right side of my model’s face there was a bubble that was distracting so I used the clone stamp tool to get rid of it completly. This is a quick run through on how to do a face slicing edit on a photo of your choice. You can do this in any way or part of the body you choose to add a variety of character to your photo. This is another skill that can be added to your tool belt in your post-production work flow.

polygonal lasso tool



There is no right or wrong way to create an amazing edit. Post-production is all about what you want to create. Using provided overlays from the internet can be another way to up your game but completely up to your creative choice. You can always look up inspiration for manipulated self-portraits and create one of your own styles or recreate a post-production photo you saw on the internet! Check out Laughing Squid’s post on different styles of post-production work in manipulated self-portraits or photorealism photography. Also, visit my friend Jessie Hazel’s post on overlays and post-production magic!