Tag Archives: Pixel Manipulation

Sky is the Limit – Adding Cloud with Photoshop

Some would say manipulating photographs with Photoshop is cheating. But I disagree. Color balance, dodging, burning, color correction or any other tweaks that photographers perform on an image outside of the camera is manipulating. Yet, we all do it without guilt. Using Photoshop to add enhancements for greater overall impact of a photograph shouldn’t be any different. After all, being able to manipulate your way around Photoshop is a valuable skill in itself as much as one’s ability to capture great photos.

Having said that, take a look at these two photos. The one on the left is straight from the camera untouched. It’s pretty dull and uninspiring to say the least. The one on the right is way more interesting to look at. Even an easy and quick enhancement with Photoshop makes a world of difference. Here’s how to add clouds and interesting sky quickly in Photoshop.
Add clouds with Photoshop

1. Here is the extremely boring original. The sky is virtually monotone. Luckily, that makes it whole lot easier to select the entire sky in Photoshop.
Add clouds with Photoshop

2. Select Color Range. That will bring up the Color Range Option.
Add clouds with Photoshop

3. Clicked anywhere in the sky to select most of the sky. Clicking on the Eyedropper with the plus (“+”) symbol adds multiple color ranges to the selection.
I clicked on the darker areas toward the middle until all of the sky is selected.
I set the Fuzziness to 140 to smooth out the selection edges and to prevent possible halo around the branches.
Add clouds with Photoshop

4. Click OK and this is the selection I ended up with.
Add clouds with Photoshop

5. Created a new Layer above the tree.
I used the Gradient Tool to create a dark to light gradient from top left to bottom right.
Notice the settings on top options bar. The direction and the intensity of the gradient ultimately will effect way the clouds appear and its density.
Add clouds with Photoshop

6. Choose “Difference Cloud” from Filters under Render.
Add clouds with Photoshop

7. Well, there is the cloud. But not too interesting is it? I need to make it a little more wild and bold.
Add clouds with Photoshop

8. I used “Curves” (cmd+M / ctrl+M) to control the intensity of the clouds.
This is where you can go wild with the cloud being careful not to make it look fake. Unless that’s the effect you’re shooting for.
Add clouds with Photoshop

9. There is the beautiful and bold cloud.
Add clouds with Photoshop

10. You may also choose to Sharpen the image at this point once most of the manipulations are done. Sharpening with “Sharpen” option may or may not appear to make any difference in the image depending on the resolution you’re working with.
Add clouds with Photoshop

11. It’s almost there. The clouds and the sky look convincing enough.
Add clouds with Photoshop

12. The sky looks good but I wanted to add more flair to this photo.
I created an “Adjustment Layer” and selected “Black & White”.
It’s always a good idea to create and work on an Adjustment Layer so that it keeps the unadjusted image underneath to always to go back to just in case.
Add clouds with Photoshop

13. I chose to add a little shade of bronze. I think it adds a little class to the photo.
Add clouds with Photoshop

So there you have it. A magnificent sky and some cloud to go with it in about five minutes! If you can imagine it, you can do it in Photoshop. Even the sky isn’t the limit…!