#CreativeFriday – Using an Image to overlay the Loupe View in Lightroom

Here is a super feature that allows you to overlay and preview any type of graphical content over a photograph in Lightroom. This is a handy way to see what your final composite will look like without having to drag and drop images into the Photoshop file (or even Place/Link images within Photoshop). This powerful yet simple feature will make it really easy if you are designing any type of magazine cover, book cover etc and allow you to make those aesthetic decisions very quickly.  This post will explain how to set up the graphic template in Photoshop CC, then how to overlay this on an image in Lightroom. The image below visually describes what you will be able to achieve once you have read and followed the instructions in this post.


Let us start out in Photoshop CC and make the template from some graphics. In this example there is a black banner with text in the lower 1/3 of the image, then transparency in the other 2/3 with a logo in the top left hand corner.


The logo in the top left hand corner was capture from artwork in the real world and captured using the Adobe Shape CC iPhone App (which is included as part of your Creative Cloud subscription, you just need to download and login with your Adobe ID).


The brush marks at the bottom of the image are from the Adobe Brush CC iPhone app. This brush is one of the standard ones that is available by default in the app,  you can make brushes out of anything in the real world (from in front of the camera), or from the camera roll.

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Once either or both of these effects have been captured with the iPhone/iPad apps (Brush CC is available on both iPad and iPhone), the artwork/content will be synchronised to the Creative Cloud Libraries, and shown in the Creative Cloud Library panel that is now available in both Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC. The Creative Cloud Libraries is a great way to consolidate many types of creative assets at a global level within the applications, making all synced assets available to the desktop(s) where you have the Creative Cloud Desktop App running. Content can also placed from Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC into the Creative Cloud library, by dragging it into the panel, this content will also be available in your other installations of the desktop apps  and includes Type, Shapes, SVG objects etc. The Creative Cloud Libraries is represented by the Creative Cloud icon (marked in Red) inside both Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC. When this panel is opened, the assets are shown (marked in yellow).

The Creative Cloud Libraries panel is accesible from the menu bar, Windows / Libraries.

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To use an asset of type PSD, PNG, SVG etc, just create a new canvas or open an existing PSD file, and drag the icon to the canvas. If using the brushes, then select the brush using the ‘B’ key (or from the tool bar), then paint as you would normally do (this obviously works on 3D objects as well).

The next operation is to save the PSD for reference, and to create a new PNG file, the PNG file will preserve any transparency in the document and will be used in Lightroom. To do this select the menu item File / Save As and choose PNG in the file format.

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Open Lightroom and make sure that menu item View / Loupe Overlay Grid and Guides are both turned off. In the following image, the pictures that i would like to preview have been placed into a Lightroom Collection, and is called “Urban Creative”.  (To create a collection, navigate to the Collection headings and click on the ‘+’ icon. This allows a new collection to be created and images to be placed into it).


If the images are not in a collection and are inside a folder, then previewing the overlay is the same. Collections  just organise the images in a more logical way, as opposed to the sort order of the folder (date/time. file name  etc). To show a single image in the main view (and not the grid view (as shown above)), press the ‘E key. A screen similar to the following should be displayed.


To load the PNG file that was saved from Photoshop and apply the overlay, open the menu item , View / Loupe Overlay / Choose Layout Image, then select the PNG file that was saved earlier. Previous overlays can be turned on by selecting the Recent Layout Images option.

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Once the image has been chosen, the PNG will be shown and the image will show through the transparent parts of the graphic design.

Once Lightroom is in Image Overlay mode a message for ‘CMD for options will be displayed’, pressing CMD (Mac) / CTRL (Pc) at this stage will allow you to configure the transparency and matt properties of the loupe image overlay:-

  •  Opacity will control how much of the image loupe overlay is shown (100% is full, 0 is none)
  •  Matt will control the opacity of the area around the loupe image (100 % is black and 0 will show all of the image)

To modify these values, hover over each one independently, and whilst still holding the CMD/CTRL key and holding right click on the mouse  / pen right click equivalent (if using one (i.e. Surface Pro 3 pen or Wacom stylus)) at the same time, will allow the values to be increased/decreased.


When CMD / CTRL is not pressed, and the image is double clicked Lightroom will return back to the Grid view.

When the CMD / CTRL key is pressed and when

  • The navigator (top left of the screen), is in ‘FIT’ mode, clicking on the image will zoom into 1:1. Space bar will also take you to the 1:1 view
  • If in Fill mode, the image will fit the screen
    The other zoom modes will operate the same way as they do when clicking on them in the regular loupe view

It’s also easy to reposition the loupe overlay and recompose the scene. To re-position the graphic overlay over the image and to find the best fit, hold down the CMD (Mac) / CTRL (Pc) key and grab the overlay graphics only (grabbing the image at this point might zoom the image). The cursor will change into a hand and you can now move the overlay image around (Moving the loupe around at this point will set it’s position for the next image).

I find the best way to see the image and new image overlay is to have the zoom mode in FIT mode. Make sure that the Tool Bar is off (you can toggle the toolbar using the ’T’ key), then press Shift + CMD + F (Full screen, hide panels), shown below.


10If this is not the correct image and you would like to try others, then use the left and right arrow keys to move to the next picture.

It’s also easy to use the overlay image, or a different range of images,  Press Shift + CMD + F (Full screen, hide panels) to show panels once again. Then select a new collection or folder. The Picture should change and show the new set of images that was selected, press Shift + CMD + F (Full screen, hide panels) and the images will be shown without the panels and toolbar.

(The models used in this post were used with permission from Leni’s models).

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