Friday, November 27, 2009

Simple Friday Tutorial - Adding Clouds To A Bald Sky

I either read or view a lot of tutorials online with the hope of picking up a new tidbit of information. If I could just learn one thing from each tutorial about Photoshop techniques I see, I'd be a PS genius. Instead, I'm a slightly better than typical fiddler with it. I do run into things that crack me up. Saw one the other day. I'm a sucker for tutorials about masks. If I could find, develop, figure out , or be some sort of alchemic sorcerer and come up with the ultimate mask technique I'd be a happy camper. Instead, I'm a searcher, seeking new and better ways to create masks. I've used masks in a couple of recent posts. In the October 26th post I show the mask used to enhance the tonal values of the sky. I used a mask in the November 16th tutorial about how to darken a weak sky. What happens if you have no sky? I've been asked this several times recently. The first piece of advice I'd give is, if you're stuck shooting on a day with a bald sky is "don't shoot the sky". That's about the easiest way I can think of to not have to deal with a bald sky. If the sky is dead bald, no detail at all, don't include it in the shot. If the sky is that flat you probably have great, even light that maximizes the saturation in almost anything on the ground. Point your camera down rather than up. Done! Let's face it, that's not always possible. I ran across a tutorial the other days and the "teacher" explained how to make an elaborate mask and replace the sky. After a long dissertation, in the last step of the sequence, he gave the one thing that he could have used (should have used) to eliminate the entire rest of the work. To find out what this magic step is, hit the "read more".

This has to be the quickest, easiest, single step fix for a bald sky you can possibly imagine. Click on the small, before shot to see it larger. Pretty tricky, right? You've got a couple of trees that you can see through. If you use a selection tool, such as the Magic Wand (W) you end up needing to do a lot of fussing with a lot of edges. There's several good techniques to refine the edge of a selection, but it still involves fussing.

Here's what you do to replace the bald sky in one click. Yep, one click and you're out of there. The first thing, obviously, is to find the sky you want to use to replace the bald sky. Open it up, do a Select All (CTRL A) and either drag it to the image with the offending sky or do a CRTL C then CTRL V to copy and paste it into the image to be worked on. It's now going to be on top of the image you're trying to "fix". Grab the Move (V) Tool and drag the sky around until it covers the bald sky. (Do whatever is necessary to insure the sky covers all of the "baldness" of the underlying shot. Now, change the Blend Mode to Darker Color. You're done! That's the one click that does the trick. That's all that was done to today's final image. No mask, no hassle, no fuss, no muss, it's over.

I will give one caveat. If the sky overlaps a lighter colored area that needs to stay, you can bring the lighter areas back with a layer mask. Today's image didn't need one because the leaves on the trees are dense enough to hide any transition.


Unknown said...


I loved this bland sky fix. This was a great help.

Bruce Miller