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How to Create Great Skies


Steve Bingham

As is always the case in Photoshop, there are many ways of doing the same thing.  Here are 4 - in increasing difficulty and effectiveness.

Method 1: This one is REALLY simple. Select the sky and clouds using the magic wand or the stitch tool (or any other method of selecting an area). Then go edit, copy, edit, paste. You now have a second layer of the selected area. Go to windows, show layers. Select the top layer. In the white box that says normal, use the small down arrow and select multiply. This produces instant doubling of the sky density only. A great effect that is basically invisible.

Method 2: Again select the sky with your method of choice. Go to image, adjust, selective color. Using the small down arrow, go down and select blue. With the absolute box checked, add 100% black to the blue. Now go to cyan and repeat the processes. If the sky still is not dark enough, repeat the entire processes. If you have no other blue in the picture, it is not even necessary to use a selected area. Keep in mind, this does not effect the white clouds.

Method 3: Select the sky. This time feather the selected area about 3 pixels. Then, using the dodge and burn action described in an earlier lesson, simply use a VERY large paint brush and paint the sky darker. This gives you a little more control than simply darkening the selected area. It is not as precise as the first two methods and is my least favorite.

Method 4: Select the sky using the magic wand. Hold down the shift key as you select to add more of the sky. Hold down the alt key to delete part of the sky. When you have all the sky selected, use Select - Modify - Expand (1 pixel). Now use Select - Feather (1 pixel). These last two steps will more effectively blend your new sky with the original scene. Leave the marquee (marching ants)  there.

Now open a cloud scene of your choice and drag it into the original picture. In order to place these clouds behind the original scene you will need to rename the background  layer (double click, rename, like xxx). Move the cloud layer to the bottom.  Activate the top layer (blue on layer pallet) and Cut. The old sky drops away and the new sky shows through.



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