Adding layers to Green Screen Photography

Green screen photography can look a little flat. The areas around the feet just never seem to look just right to me. The good news is that there is a easy fix to this problem. I love to add layers or overlays to my photos. I use PhotoKey 8 Pro but know this can also be done in Green Screen Wizard, sorry have not tested other software yet. If your green screen does not support layers this can also be done in post production with programs like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Gimp.

What are layers

Layers are just what they sound like, objects that can be placed in front of or behind the main subject. With green screen photography you will always have at least two layers, the main subject and a background. With some green screen programs you may also add elements in front of and behind the main subject. This is a great way to really tie you main subject into the background. I will use one of my backgrounds to show you how this works.

First Select a Background

I always start with a background then shoot my main subject to match the lighting and angle.

Then photograph the main subject

Use you green screen software to remove the green background.  Resize and reposition the main subject in the middle of the smoke background.  I love smoke because your keying does not need to be perfect.

Adding Layers, layer 1

If your green screen software does not allow you to do layers simply save the file and reopen it in a photo editing program that allows layers, Photoshop, Elements, Gimp, etc,,,

You can not see it very well in this example but you overlay should be transparent in areas to still show the main subject.  With this overlay I resize and reposition it so I get a clear view of the face and hide the feet.  You can see the smoke does not line up at the top, not a problem we will be covering that up soon.

Layer 2

I adding a second layer to add to the effect of my firefighter.  I could have done this with one layer but I wanted the smoke to be cleared around the face.  The white area in the photo below will be transparent.

Finished product

What I love about PhotoKey 8 Pro is that once you create a project in it all you have to do is shoot the next subject.  All the layers will remain in place.  The subject will be resized and placed in the some spot.  Only minor repositioning will need to be done.  I could shoot several people with this background and each one would take less than a minute to edit.

I would love to see the results of how this has worked for and please take a look at my background store

Please post your thoughts and ideas



My Green Screen “Studio” Setup

I have included affiliate links in this post that are associated with the products I use and trust

I thought I would post my “studio” setup to prove that you will not need to spend a lot of money.  I chose my equipment with 3 things in mind.

  • Space, I do not have a permanent studio so needed something that can be done in a small area and stored nicely.
  • Money, I do not have much money to spend on my hobbies and my rule is only spend money my hobbies have raised.  I have made enough money from micro-stock photography to pay for this setup, but needed to make every penny count.
  • My needs,  I knew I wanted my setup to do two things.
  1. The ability to work in layers, by adding layers to a green screen setup a lot of great things can be done.
  2. The ability to be setup as a photo booth.  I love the instant results that green screen and did not want any post processing work.  Someday I may take my setup to a craft show and see how it does.


PhotoKey 8 Pro, this is where I spent most of my money.  Photokey Pro lets me use layers, has a PhotoShop plug-in, and can be used to setup a photo booth.

Review to be coming in a later post.

Pentax K-7 14.6 MP Digital SLR with Shake Reduction and 720p HD Video (Body Only), The camera I already owned and love.  Here really any camera will work but a DSLR will give the best results.  I use a Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens to shoot most backgrounds and photoshots.  I do have a Sigma 18-50 F2.8 for when I have to shoot in less space and a Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro to create close up backgrounds.  The one thing I have added to my setup that I love is a Wifi Sd Memory Card 32GB Class 10 2nd Generation Ez Share .  With this my photos go instantly to my computer or smart phone and are imported into my green screen software. 


I know most people will not like my lighting setup but it has been getting the job done.  I use a Pentax AF360FGZ II Flash on camera pointed at 45 degree angle to model and a Speedlite YN 560-II in slave mode on a stand and shoot through umbrella.

I will be posting more about lighting in the future so If this does not make scene to you I will explain more on this later.


Impact Super Collapsible Background – 8 x 16′ (Chroma Green)  I love this background, it is huge.  It is large enough to shoot 2 people against it.  Folds up to be about 3′ around and can be taken anywhere.  No need for a stand if you simply lean it up against a wall.

Folding this thing takes some practice so here is a video to help you out

I will be updating this post to include photos so please come back and check it out later

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