How to Replace the Sky in Any Photo Using Photoshop

By | December 5, 2021

If you want to make your landscape photos really stand out, try changing the sky.

Have you ever looked at a beautiful landscape image and wondered how the photographer captured such a stunning sky. For dedicated professionals, this may not happen by chance.

Professional photographers have been known to spend days or even weeks in the great outdoors waiting to take the perfect shot. But you might be surprised to learn that there are many photographers who routinely change their skies in Photoshop. Which is much faster and easier.

In this article, we will show you an easy way to replace the sky in any photo using Photoshop. To take it a step further, we’ll also show you how to quickly edit the rest of your image to suit your new sky.

How to Change the Sky in Photoshop

Most images require their own unique adjustments. We recommend experimenting with each slider to see how Photoshop will make each adjustment.

Before we move on to the next step, here is a brief description of each customization option found in Step 5.

  • Shift Edge will shift your new celestial horizon line up or down in a gradient fashion.
  • Fade Edge is a much finer adjustment to transition your main image with a new sky.
  • Sky Adjustments is a drop-down menu with three options to consider: Brightness, Temperature, and Scale. If you check the box Flip, your sky will flip horizontally to give you a different view.
  • Foreground Adjustments is another drop-down menu containing options Lighting Mode, Lighting Adjustment, and Color Adjustments. These controls will further enhance the transition zone of your new main image and sky.
  • Output tell Photoshop how to create your new sky in the layer stack. The default option is New Layers, which is usually the best way to further enhance your image later.

Editing Your Pictures to Fit the Sky

Photoshop will group these adjustment layers together as Sky Replacement Group right above the picture Background You.

There will be three or four different layers, depending on whether you changed the brightness in Step 5. If so, this layer will be labeled at the top as Sky Brightness, followed by Sky, Foreground Lighting, and Foreground Color.

While Photoshop usually does a great job composing a new sky into your photos, the results at this stage may seem unrealistic depending on how different the colors are in each image.

In this example, it doesn’t seem quite right. While the mountains and lakes in the foreground are bathed in a beautiful magenta, it’s hard to imagine such lighting produced by a mostly black-and-white photograph of the sky. Additional changes are required.

How far you decide to improve your image creatively is up to you. You can spend up to an hour or more trying to get a very artistic look. But for strict sky replacement purposes, we recommend creating two additional layers to perform a successful sky replacement before moving on to more advanced methods.

For the first layer, we’re going to use this quick Photoshop trick to change the colors in the image.

Layer 1

Color Balance Layer

Adding a Color Balance layer is the icing on the cake. Making use of additional shadows, highlights, and midtone adjustments will bring your new sky to life and complete the sky replacement process.

  • Select the fill adjustment layer icon at the bottom right and click Color Balance. An options box will open. Otherwise, double click on the Color Balance layer thumbnail.
  • Adjust the slider Midtones suit one’s taste. Do the same for Highlights and Shadows.
  • If necessary, adjust Opacity layer to enhance the effect.
  • choose Mask ready-made from layers Color Balance. Then Click B for Brush.
  • Toggle button X to choose Black as Foreground Color.
  • By using tools Brush, paint a Color Balance effect from your image until the sky and original image blend well. At this point, you can return to your individual layers and make opacity and other adjustments to enhance your image.

You can stop at this point or choose to make additional adjustments to make your image more artistic.

Easy To Change The Sky In Photoshop

Not all sky photos are created equal. This means that it is important to check your image before finding a replacement sky, taking into account the color and quality of the light.

In this example, the shot is a long exposure that might have been taken at sunrise. Finding an image with this kind of color scheme would be ideal, but as we’ve just pointed out, it’s not always necessary.

In addition, it is also important to determine how the cloud will look. Dark, dense clouds will be more dramatic, while scattered, light clouds will reflect a calmer vibe.