Creating art inspired by double exposure photographs

Hey everyone, Katie here, your resident doodler, painter and galaxy-obsessed artist! Are you loving the Season of Dreams as much as I am? Dreams are so magical to me.

Have you ever seen double exposure photographs? If you haven’t, here’s a description of what they are:

In photography and cinematography, a multiple exposure is the superimposition of two or more exposures to create a single image.

I’m inspired every time I see a double or multiple exposure image, they seem surreal to me, and often what I image dreams to be. Dreams are weird and lovely, and can have multiple meanings.

I really enjoy creating artwork inspired by double exposure photographs and today I want to show you how to draw a double exposure. There are multiple methods you can use, you don’t have to know how to draw to create double exposure inspired artwork! However being that I love to draw, that is what I am showing you. I’ll talk a little more about other methods at the bottom of this post.

You want to start off by deciding what your “photos/designs” are going to be. For instance, if this were a true photograph double exposure, are you combining an image of a flower with the image of a face? A horse with the image of a forest? Decide what you want to use to represent your dreams.

I start by sketching out my main outline. Today I’m drawing the silhouette of a girl, looking up (dreaming?), and she’s going to have galaxy hair, with trees in the foreground.

If you’re not confident about drawing, Back in the Season of Introspection I shared some general guidelines for drawing a face. OR you could try tracing an image!

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art


After the initial sketch, I always go in and redraw the art with a fine tip black marker.

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

Time for the magic to happen, which is in the coloring! I’m partial to watercolors, but you can use whatever medium you are comfortable with.

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

I started by painting in her face and the trees, and then I added in the galaxy hair. Learn how to paint a watercolor galaxy here.

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

How else can you create double exposure artwork without drawing?

Use magazines: You can cut magazine images into the silhouette of a shape to get a double exposure effect, like I did on the page below. I used a photograph of butterflies, and cut it into the shape of a hand.

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

Another idea for using magazines, is to combine multiple images. Try cutting flowers out of paper and adhering them onto the photograph of a model, placing them in her hair.

Create a digital double exposure effect:  If you’re familiar with using photo editing programs like photoshop, try creating a double exposure photograph on the computer and then printing it out to use in your art journal. Here is a tutorial I found for doing this.

Need inspiration? I found these lovely images on pinterest:

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Here are some of my styles of double exposure artwork. Obviously you can create your own styles, I want you guys to experiment! Try printing out a photograph of yourself, and painting clouds on top of it, or sketching around your hand and filling it with words.

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art

How to Create Double Exposure Inspired Art


Katie is an Artist located in Washington, USA. She loves anything and everything crafty- from scrapbooking and art journaling, to drawing, to quilting. Katie is constantly inspired by nature, outer space, and colors.


  1. Dagny Opsal

    And for those who do not know Photoshop:

    for the beginning double exposer . the Diana Photo, MultiExpo and Mexpose apps can give interesting double exposures. If you’re more experienced user(interested ,or good with digital editing), Union, Layers and Juxtapose are clever apps

    Or just get analogue- get a Diana or Lomo Instant camera. The double exposures there take more skill, but can create a lot of interesting surprises….

  2. Dagny Opsal

    (Sorry, allowed myself to add to your tutorial- I just had SO MUCH FUN with double exposure phone/Ipad apps like Image Blender, MultiExpo and Diana Photo (digital and analogue). Worth trying out for those not being used to digital editing in Photoshop. But I might be one of the few still not doing it. Delete comment if inappropriate)

  3. Dagny Opsal

    But thanks for the tutorial. Doing a double exposure ‘manually’, is a great idea!

    • Katie Smith

      Thanks for your comments- using an app is a GREAT idea!!

  4. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    This is a really cool technique Katie. I love how you broke it down into such easy steps for us.

  5. Clare Davis Etheridge

    I never thought about double exposure in drawings and in my art journal! Yay, now I am buzzing with ideas to use. Thanks Katie xxx

    • Katie Smith

      Yay! I’m so glad to have inspired.

  6. Riet

    Oh, sorry there was something to read?! I’ve been carried away by beautiful paintings that are made for dreaming <3

    • Katie Smith

      Oh Riet, you just made me smile. 🙂

  7. Essie Smith

    this is stunning. you are amazing <3

  8. Vanessa Cabrera

    I am in love with this idea! I’ve seen it before but I was scared to try! am happy you explained it step by step, I feel I can do it now!! I will give it a try!! THANK YOU!!

  9. Emily@squiggleandswirl

    I have never thought of doing this before, but your tutorial and the images you shared have planted some inspiration seeds in my mind Katie. Thank you, another brilliant tutorial!

  10. Melody Willoughby

    What an amazing idea. I am still such a newbie this is totally new to me. Can’t wait to try.

  11. Dagny Opsal

    I think it was you who did the Gelli plate tutorial. If you use masks, you do kind of get the same effect? make one very textured print, in light colours,let it dry, then print on the same print with a darker colour, using a mask, like the Gelli demonstrate here:

    As I do not draw that well, I’ve been using Gelli printing a lot. And using paper-cut figures like this, is great fun, and a ‘poor man’s exposure’, I guess you could say. But again, great idea- does challenge one to be creative!

    • Katie Smith

      Hey, yes! You can get a similar double exposure print using the gelli plate such as the example you just shared! It’s obviously not the same as drawing, but equally cool. It might be neat to gelli print over a mask on top of magazine or photograph for a neat effect as well.

      I love how there are different ways to do “double exposures”.

    • Katie Smith

      I’d love to see your take on the idea! Do you post your artwork/gelli prints anywhere?

  12. Dagny Opsal

    I haven’t done much advanced Gelli printing, but I’ve posted some here (there will be more-eventually, I need to make better & more photos….):

    two the above prints might give you an idea of what I mean. but a drawn/painted double exposure, like you have done above, is still the most personal, I guess…

  13. Christie Drahnak

    This is great! Definitely doing this! Thank you!