What does nearly every photo taken outside have in common? No, it’s not an annoying bystander photobombing, we’re talking about the sky here. It’s nature’s canvas and forms the backdrop of most outdoor photos. If it’s a daytime photo then you may have a lovely photograph foreground, but with a perfect flat blue sky that looks unreal, or a cloudy murky sky that rains the colour from an image. Ever wished you could just create a few nice clouds in a blue sky to make your photo pop? Well Adobe’s Photoshop can make your wish come true.


Open your image and create a new layer. Fill this layer with a nice sky blue, you can always use the colour pipette to pinch one you like form another photo if you don’t have an eye for choosing colours. Change the blending mode for the layer fro Normal to Multiply. Set your foreground and background colours as black and white, it doesn’t really matter which is which.

There is a Photoshop filter especially for creating cloud effects, and it’s called, unsurprisingly, the Photoshop Cloud Filter. It’s obvious once you know about it. Now select your blue layer and choose Filter, Render, Clouds. Photoshop will now give you a digitally created cloudy effect, picking up on the colour of your layer and because you chose black and white it will also pick up on the Multiply set to give starker contrast.

You can also use this technique to just give you a flat layer of clouds to work with on images you are building up digitally. Create a blank layer, pick a sky blue foreground colour and a white background and choose Filter, Render, Clouds and you have a simple cloudy blue sky to work with. Each time you apply the filter, Photoshop will give you different clouds, so if you think the first attempt looks a little artificial, just try applying the filter again for a new sky.

Of course it doesn’t have to be a blue sky with white clouds, you can use storm grey or sunset orange any other colour to create clouds that fit your needs, you control the weather now, at least in the world of Photoshop.

[Image via Russ Payne]