Photoshop Batch Image Overlay

Updated on October 15, 2012

This article is going to provide you with a step by step way to easily and quickly overlay one image onto many others without having to do them one by one.

You are going to need:

  1. Your "overlay" image, this will probably have a transparent background. This could be a .gif, .png or .psd
  2. Your picture (or pictures) that you want to overlay the first image over
  3. Adobe Photoshop... obviously

The following is my "overlay" image. Notice the transparency.

Next comes the image I want to watermark with my first image. For this to be easy, I made both images the same size. You can resize an image in Photoshop by going to Image > Image Size or pressing "Ctrl + Alt + I" on a Windows machine.

In theory, you have 2 images that are the same size. Open Photoshop and open your second, or target image. Leave your watermark overlay image closed for now.

With your one image open in Adobe Photoshop, look for your Actions Palette. It's usually down on the right with the rest of the tools that are open. If you do not see it, you can make it visible by going to Window > Actions.

The photo to the right shows, roughly, how your action palette tab will look. You will have different actions than in the photo.

We are now going to create a new action. An action is a set of automated instructions. Once set, all you'll have to do is hit "play" and Photoshop will go through the motions of pasting the overlay image on top of one or many images, all by itself.

But first, we've got to tell Photoshop what to do, and that means we are going to record an action.

Click the small folder icon on the Actions palette, "create new set".

Give this "folder" name whatever you like. I named mine Batch Overlay.

We made that folder to hold the action we're going to create next. Choose the icon on the Action palette just to the right of the create new set icon. If you hover, "create new action" may appear. Click this button.

Again, Photoshop will ask for a name. I left it the default, but you can name it whatever you want.

You'll notice your only option is "Record", there is no "ok". You have to click record to save your action. This will begin recording steps that you take that Photoshop will later play back and repeat on its own.

You only have one picture open at this point, the one you want to put an overlay on top of.

Go to File > Place.

Navigate to where your overlay file is stored. This would be a good time to mention that the action will always look for this overlay file where you tell it to right now. Put it somewhere safe and permanent.

When you find it, select it and then choose the "Place" button.

You'll be brought back to your picture, this time with your overlay in place (since our images are the same size, no adjustment is required), with an X over the entire photo. Hit "enter" on your keyboard to finish placing your overlay.

Both images aligned after "placing" the overlay.
Both images aligned after "placing" the overlay.

You're almost there. Click File > Save As...

Navigate to the directory where you want to save this and all future images to. I chose the Desktop.

It should maintain the name of the original file (in this example's case, the grim reaper dude). You can change the extension to jpg or whichever extension you desire. Select Save once you do so.

Close your image. Photoshop will ask you if you want to save, tell it NO. The image will close.

Down on the actions palette, you'll probably see a little red circle lit up. Go ahead and select the square icon now, to stop recording. Your action is now all set up. You'll never have to make it again, and you can use it to do what we just did, only Photoshop will do all the work for you.


Applying Overlay to a Single Image

Open Photoshop. Open an image or photo you'd like to paste your overlay onto. Making sure your Action palette is present, highlight the action we just made (called Action 5, for me) and hit the play icon (remember, from your VCR days... the triangle.)

Photoshop chews on it a bit and then the image disappears. Look on your desktop and there it is, done!

If you'd like to churn out a bunch of images at once...

Applying Overlay to Multiple Images

This is a batch action, kids.

Do you have all your images in one folder? Are they the same size as your overlay? This will make it easy.

Go to File > Automate > Batch

Make sure your set and batch match those that we made and named above.

With "Folder" selected as source, click the "Choose" button and select the folder that contains your images.

If you process 350 images, this will watermark and save 350 images to your Desktop (or wherever you set it to save in the action).

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Popular PNG images now allow people to do many tasks. We can convert jpg to png with tools:

    • carcinojen profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen Owens 

      6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Kavan, at what step does Photoshop only allow you to use those file formats?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      this is what i wanted , but my photoshop CS 8.0 version supports only *.EPS, *.PDF, *.AI and *.PDP.

      Am i making any mistake? or it is not supported in given version.

      it will be better if you can suggest something...

      Any way thanks for good tutorial


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