How to replace the sky in Photoshop step by step: do it together | Lesson | Photo, video, optics


It happens that almost everything in photography is beautiful — the model, the location, and the pose, except for one thing. Instead of a beautiful deep sky with clouds or heavy overhanging clouds, the lion’s share of the background is occupied by a boring white «tablecloth». In this case, to save the picture, there is only one thing left — to replace the sky.

In this tutorial for beginners, we explain and show step by step all the steps needed to replace the sky in Photoshop in a portrait, and we invite you to go through all the steps with us and share the result.

Replacing the sky is one of the basic skills, even if otherwise you prefer to do without collage / Illustration: Elizaveta Lentchevicha, Photosklad.Expert / Photo:

Point one — cut out the old sky

  • Open a photo in Photoshop. To do this, simply drag the file from the folder into the window of the open Photoshop program.

2. Create a duplicate layer so that in case of an error you have an untouched source. To do this, press hotkeys Ctrl+J. After that turn off the visibility of the background layer by clicking on the eye icon.

3. Get a tool Quick Selection / Quick Selection Tool. It’s in the toolbar on the left.

4. In the settings, switch to the brush with «+» and select the sky with mouse clicks. If extra objects got into the selection — buildings or the model itself, take a brush with «-» and click to exclude them from the selection.

To make the selection more precise, decrease the brush size. So the tool will capture the desired parts of the image more accurately.

5. Without removing the selection, go to the menu: Selection / Select — Selection and mask / Select and mask. Here we will make the selection more accurate and precise.

6. Click on Viewto select the display option that makes sense to you. For example, if we take Overlay / Overlay and customize Opacity / Opacityyou will clearly see the quality of the selection.

So, in this picture you can clearly see that the selection is rough, uneven, which will affect later when we rearrange the sky.

7. Let’s finalize the selection! For example, raise the parameter Feather / Feather and Smoothing / Smoothand also increase the value Edge Shift / Shift Edge.

The result has already improved, but it can be further refined using the tools on the left. For example, a tool Brush with soft edges additionally gently blend the borders.

8. Now we bring the selection back into the working environment of Photoshop. For this we choose Output to / Output To — Selection / Selection and click Ok.

9. Then two options are possible:

– Just press the button Delete. The white sky will be gone. This is a faster but less reliable way.

— Invert the selection with the command Selection / Select — Invert / Inverse (Shift + Ctrl + I). After that, click on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

The sky is gone, but you always have access to fix something. Read about what masks are and how to work with them in our detailed guide.

Now we are finally replacing the sky!

Point two — add a new sky

The hardest part of this step is finding the right photo. In this picture, a cloudy overcast sky will suit us, without the sun “looking” into the lens. Also, ideally, the picture should not be too bright. All this is necessary so that the replaced sky falls into the colors of the source and does not stand out in brightness.

  • Take the desired photo and transfer it to the photo with the girl.
  • The image with the sky is much smaller than the original image with the girl. Stretch it by grabbing the corner.

In this case, the size of the donor sky does not matter, since the background is very blurred and the sky will also need to be blurred.

3. The picture with the sky will “lie down” on top of all layers, overlapping them. To put it down, refer to the layers palette. There, grab the sky layer by holding the left mouse button and move it down.

4. Blur the sky to make it smoother and blend in more with the rest of the background. To do this, go to Filter — Blur — Gaussian Blur. The radius is 5 pixels. In general, you need to focus on the fact that the sky is blurred as well as the background.

5. The sky still does not fit into the background — too dark and saturated. To fix this, click on the sky image and add it to the palette Layers adjustment layer Hue/Saturation / Hue/Saturation.

6. Downgrade Saturation and raise Brightness.

7. Almost there!

It remains to finalize the boundaries between the sky and the rest of the background. To do this, stand on the mask that you created for the layer with the model, take the tool Brush and draw the borders. Details about settings brushes and its possibilities read in the text.

You need to work with only two colors — black (will erase the background and the girl) and white (will reveal previously hidden details on the layer with the background and the girl, for example, the sky you deleted).


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