Have you ever thought about duplicating yourself? It would be great to have one of yourself do the everyday work. Meanwhile, another one could be watching a movie, and maybe a third one traveling somewhere far away.
Well, we cannot help with that. But we can show you how to clone yourself in Photoshop.
What You Will Need to Clone Yourself in Photoshop
- Camera: Anything that has a manual mode and a tripod mount will do it. We used a Canon EOS 5D MkIV and a 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens today, but you can absolutely do this with much cheaper gear.
- Tripod: You’ll need a tripod that can safely and steadily hold your camera. Other than that, nothing fancy is necessary.
- Adobe Photoshop: We used the latest CC version, but the features needed for this are included in every release.
How to Clone Yourself in Photoshop – Step by Step
To get the best results, we recommend that you create this photo in a place without much movement. People walking by or constantly changing objects in the background can make masking laborious.
Also, if you’re shooting outdoors in natural light, be aware of the light. If it changes quickly, you’ll have to be quick as well.
Correcting for exposure differences in Photoshop is possible, but it can be challenging.
1. Frame up your shot. Be aware of moving stuff in the background. Set up your composition as you planned it. Level your camera horizontally (if you don’t intentionally want it to bank). Tighten the head and legs of the tripod to avoid it moving during the shoot.
2. Set your camera to fully manual. Set everything manually, particularly if you’re shooting jpg (which we don’t recommend). Switch to manual focus and focus on where you’ll be. Turn off image stabilization, it can cause problems when used on tripods.
3. Get a correct exposure. You need to be careful. Try to get the exposures to each of your positions balanced. This might cause some of those places to be over or underexposed. Depending on your camera, set it so your camera can capture the most detail. Canon sensors like to be very slightly overexposed. Sony and Nikon cameras usually handle underexposure better. You have to use the same settings for every photo.
4. Be conscious of the aperture. If you want only one instance of yourself in focus, choose the widest setting. If not, set it around f/8-f/11. Don’t use a shutter speed longer than 1/100s. Even yourself moving can create motion blur.
5. Use a timer and/or a remote release. Set up your camera to count down (10 seconds is usually enough). You can use a remote release as well, but it might show up in the shot. In some cameras, you can combine these two. This is the best solution. You can also ask someone to take the shots, but be careful not to move the camera.
6. Take the shots in each position. Watch for changing light, start over if something drastically changes in the frame. Review the shots. If you don’t like one, feel free to retake it.
This a non-destructive process, which means that every single step is independently editable and undoable.
If you mess something up or don’t like the end result, don’t worry. You can always go back wherever you want.
1. Import the photos. If you’ve shot raw photos, do your initial editing. Don’t introduce too strong contrast. You can do that at the end of the process. Set your editing mode to 16 bit, so you’ll preserve more data in your photos. Apply the exact same settings to each shot.
2. Load your photos into Photoshop. Place them onto layers in one file. If you’ve imported them from Camera Raw and they opened up in different tabs, drag and drop them into one tab.
3. If you discover small movements, realign the images. Change the upper layer’s opacity to around 50% so you can see the reference layer below. Move the upper layer with the arrow keys in small increments. Once they are aligned, set the opacity back to 100%. Repeat this process until everything is in place.
4. Create a fully black Layer Mask. Do this for every layer, except the one on the bottom. Select a layer, then hold Alt (Windows)/Option (Mac) and click on the mask icon.
This creates a layer mask and automatically fills it with black, so the layer will be hidden.
5. Reveal yourself on the layers. Proceeding upwards from the bottom, paint with a white brush on the mask of each layer. This reveals the content of the layer. To blend it correctly with the other layers, use a brush with a soft edge.
Set the hardness of the brush close to 0. Hold down Alt/Option, click and hold the right button, and drag the mouse vertically.
6. Finalize the Layer Masks. You might have to mask out not only yourself but changing objects or changing light.
In this case, I had to mask blown-out highlights out and replace them with parts from another layer.
Congrats! You just learned how to clone yourself in Photoshop. You can use this technique to express yourself better, or just to entertain your audience with unique photos. Best of luck!