Top Nav

Photoshop: Create the Photo-in-Photo Effect

For those of you looking to do something easy, yet incredibly creative with their images, here’s a quick Photo-in-Photo effect tutorial. It works with new, as well as old versions of Photoshop and takes just a few minutes.

Creating Photoshop Photo-in-Photo Effect

The example image I will be using in this tutorial is courtesy of muha on flickr. You can download it by clicking the image below:

child photographing photo by muha

Step 1

Begin by opening the image in Photoshop. A quick Ctrl+O can help you with that, or of course, you can just drag the file into Photoshop to begin editing.

photoshop imported image effect picture-in-picture picture in picture

Step 2

Pick up the Marquee Tool from the tools menu or by pressing “M” on your keyboard.

rectangular marquee tool m key menu click photoshop

Drag out a quick selection of the area where you’d like the Photo-in-Photo effect to be.

rectangular selection photoshop

A quick tip for this part – you can right click your selection and choose “Transform Selection” if you want to get more creative and create the effect at a slight angle. Another good use for transforming your selection is to precisely nudge it exactly where you want it to.

rectangular selection photoshop transform selection

Step 3

After applying your transformation, press the Enter key on your keyboard. Then right click inside of your selection and chose “Layer Via Copy”.

layer via copy context menu selection photoshop

This will copy the selected area onto a new layer where it’s safe for editing and won’t alter the original image.

new layer photoshop layer 1 layer via copy option

Step 4

Now we can begin applying the actual effect. Right click on the newly created layer and pick “Blending Options”.

blending options layer context menu

Begin by adding the “Stroke” effect. Below are the settings that I use, but do keep in mind this is just my taste. You can get creative and fiddle around with the settings yourself.

stroke settings recommended effect photo in photo photo-in-photo effect apply photoshop

Size: From 10 to 150 depending on the image size

Position: Inside

Blend Mode: Normal
Opacity: 100%

Fill Type: Color

Color: White (#ffffff)

You can also add some other additional effects to further emphasize on the subject. My favorite ones are Drop Shadow and Inner Shadow. Starting with Drop Shadow, here are the settings that I normally use:

drop shadow settings recommended effect photo in photo photo-in-photo effect apply photoshop

Blend Mode: Normal

Color: Black (#000000)

Opacity: From 40 to 80 depending on your taste

Angle: Any

Distance: 0

Spread: 0

Size: From 30 to 150 depending on image size and on your taste

And here is a quick example of Inner Shadow:

inner shadow settings recommended effect photo in photo photo-in-photo effect apply photoshop

Blend Mode: Normal

Color: Black (#000000)

Angle: Any

Distance: From 5 to 30 depending on your taste

Choke: 0

Size: From 10 to 120 depending on image size and on your taste

Once you’re happy with the applied effects, press OK to apply them to the layer and to exit out of the Layer Style options.

OK button accept changes effect layer blending options photoshop

Step 4

Since we’re already done with applying the photo frame effect to our top layer, we can move on to the actual image itself. Begin by left clicking the lower layer to make sure it’s selected (tip: if the layer name is background in italic letters, double click it and then press OK to convert it to an unlocked layer).

background layer select photoshop

One of my all-time-favorite effects for emphasis is the classical and sharp contrast between black and white and color. You can try this yourself by adding a B&W adjustment layer…

black and white B&W effect adjustment layer photoshop

…and tweaking some of the settings until things look just right:

settings properties photoshop b&w black and white adjustment layer

Step 5 (Optional)

You can save your image directly after completing step four, but if you feel that your image needs a little something more, feel free to continue experimenting. Here’s what I was able to achieve with a little motion blur, blending, noise and contrast:

final effect photo-in-photo photo in photo effect photoshop image edit HD ephasis contrast

Step-by-Step Tutorial Video

Here’s my video tutorial showing the process in action, step-by-step:

More Reading:


One Response to Photoshop: Create the Photo-in-Photo Effect

  1. Bijutoha January 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    It is going to light you work perfectly, I saw a something new in your tutorial that make me more creative in my passion.

Leave a Reply


Free Learning


Don't miss a single tip, how to or tech news update. Subscribe to my free newsletter and receive updates, right to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!