French Flag Overlay


Today’s Question: I’ve noticed that on Facebook several of my friends (including you) have placed what is essentially a transparent French flag over their pictures. Would you please explain how one would go about doing something like this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I know that there had been some “automatic” options to update your profile photo in this way, but I opted to create the effect “manually” in Photoshop. I first added an empty image layer above my photo. Then I filled that layer with blue, white, and red in one-third increments, using selections to assist that process. Finally, the Color blend mode was used to cause the color to alter the appearance of the underlying photo.

More Detail: The first step, of course, is to open the photo to which you want to apply the effect. Next, click the “Create a New Layer” button (the blank sheet of paper icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a blank layer.

I used guides to assist with dividing the image into thirds. To take this approach, choose View > New Guide from the menu. Enter “33%” in the Position field, and make sure the Orientation option is set to Vertical. Then click OK to create the new guide. Choose View > New Guide again, enter “66%” in the Position field, and click OK to add a second guide.

With guides added to the image, you can choose the Rectangular Marquee tool from the toolbox and click and drag to create a selection from one corner of the image to the opposite end of the nearest guide. Then choose Edit > Fill from the menu, and choose the “Color” option from the Contents popup to bring up the Color Picker. Select the color you would like to use, and click OK to select the color. Then click OK again to fill the selection with the color.

You can then deselect the active selection by choosing Select > Deselect from the menu. Drag to create the next selection (between the two guides for the second color area, and then from the second guide to the right edge of the photo for the third color area). Use the Fill command for each of the other selections to fill with applicable color for each section.

Finally, set the blend mode for the new layer to Color, using the popup at the top-left of the Layers panel. The solid colors you used to fill the new layer will then be used to alter the underlying color of the image. You can also adjust the Opacity setting for this layer, using the control at the top-right of the Layers panel, to adjust the strength of the final effect.