I'm a design student and I'm currently working on my thesis project. For the the cover I want to create an effect similar to the cover of "made you look" by Sagmeister. The cover uses an interesting effect where an image changes with a red acetate overlay.

I would like to create a similar effect using only images (no text or patterns) in Photoshop. Can anyone provide a detailed guide or tips on how to achieve this? I'm interested in understanding the specific steps for layering images so that one becomes visible only through the red acetate.

If anyone knows of any online tutorials, videos, or resources that explain similar techniques, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for your help! 💖

enter image description here

---> please find attached some references : https://pin.it/2KN1DcAgl

  • Reference: pin.it/2KN1DcAgl
    – Sara
    Commented Jun 18 at 17:35
  • Sounds like you're talking about a "clipping mask", which is an object that frames (crops) the underlying objects, or another kind of mask. Searching for masking in the Help for Photoshop should give you a lot of information.
    – user8356
    Commented Jun 18 at 20:06
  • Take a look at how different blending modes could replicate real-life scenarios: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/83002/…
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 18 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


A. We are starting from two different images.

  • Convert them to grayscale or desaturate them.

  • Adjust contrast to your liking. A

enter image description here

  • We have two options, depending on if you are printing in something like silk printing, offset, or if it is digital.

If it is going to be printed using spot inks, you can convert it to a monotone. B

But most likely it is going to be digital, so on an RGB file desaturated, move the curves on the red channel all the way up. C

enter image description here

  • On the green I did not move it all the way up, but a darker green. D

enter image description here

  • Stack them together with the top one with blending mode Multiply.

enter image description here

  • The colors of the cellophane should be the purest primary color you can get. Red, green or Blue.

  • Try to make the green curves exactly the tone of the cellophane.

  • You can use blue instead of green.

Take a look at this Preparing design for duotone printing? on how you can manipulate your channels, in this case, to extract a different zone of your image:

enter image description here


Just some hints, no ready to use receipe.

The acetate overlay is made of material which works as tight red filter. Even dark red looks through it quite the same as white, but everything green and blue and anything which does not contain the red wavelength range turns to black. Your linked example is like a friendly dog when it's watched through the red acetate. When the acetate is removed the image contains greyshades, red and green, but one can easily see the face of an agressive dog.

There has been 2 different black&white dog face photos. The differences between the friendly face and the angry face are overprints with red and green. The angry face contains strong light details, so it's useful to print them on the friendly face as green on places where the friendly face is dark. Respectively the light details of the friendly face which are on places where the angry face is dark are printed with red.

The angry face contains much more light areas than the friendly face. That makes the angry face distinguishable when there's no red overlay.

The next example is a rough version of the same. I use only RGB images in Photoshop, so I have no difficulties caused by CMYK printing. I'm afraid good printed result needs spot color red and green.

This image contains 2 separate faces. It's seen with no filtering.I'm sure most of us see it presents the president of USA in 2024, but there's some red caused by the other face.

enter image description here

The other face can be seen with red acetate overlay:

enter image description here

If there were available also a green acetate it would show the current US.president perfectly:

enter image description here

How it's done? I simply started from a desaturated RGB image of J.Biden. I turned off the blue RGB channel and replaced the red channel with the content of the red channel of a desaturated image of G.Washington. The used image of J.Biden is much brighter and has higher contrast, so it is dominant in the mixed image.

The Photoshop RGB version of the 2 old presidents may look good enough, but what happens if it's printed? Unfortunately CMYK printing does not at all make the needed bright red and green. The contrast between the no-red-acetate image and thru-red-acetate images is reduced substantially. A person who knows what he does would see it in few seconds by converting the combined image to CMYK (with the forthcoming CMYK print process color profile) and then back to RGB and checking the channels. As said earlier, one should create the combined image by having spot color red and green as overprints on black. That's the way to get pure enough red and green as printed.

But the combined image has also orange and Black? Do they also need spot colors? CMYK black is a spot color, so no problem there. The orange means light area on both images. It can as well be printed as a greyshade i.e. less than 100% filled black. That, of course, works well only if the common light areas are approximately as light in both images.

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