I’ve seen various articles, tutorials, and blog posts on how to fix or replace a blown-out sky. So, this topic is nothing new. However, this may be the fastest way there is to do it. And it can be done without any magic wands, layer masks, extraction tools, or even any pictures of a sky. All in less than one minute.
I’m going to be using Photoshop CS2, but there should be ways to accomplish the same thing in Photoshop Elements.
For the main photo, I obviously wanted one with a washed-out sky. But, to show how well this technique works, I also wanted one that has a lot of intricate detail - like the leaves on the trees, which can often be problematic and difficult to work around.
Okay, are you ready? Let’s get started.
Step #1: Open your photo and duplicate the layer. In Photoshop CS2, there are four different ways I know of to duplicate a layer. But instead of going through all of them, just select your background layer and right-click on it. You’ll see the Duplicate Layer option.
Step #2: Next, select your rectangle Marquee Tool in your toolbar (see red oval above) and draw a box around the sky area you want to replace. If you notice the little ‘marching ants’ you’ll see I’ve selected the top half of this photo.
Step #3: Now, go to Image>Adjustment>Selective Color, which will open up a separate little control window (see below image). Go to Colors at the top of that window and select White. Now, just use your Cyan and Magenta sliders to add color until you get a shade of blue you like, and click OK. I have found that typically cyan is going to be about 10% higher than the magenta to get a nice natural looking blue.
Step #4: The only thing left to do is select your Eraser Tool (see red oval on left) and erase any residual blue in areas it shouldn’t be. In this photo, you can see there’s some blue on the right side of the house that needs to be removed. There’s also some on the front windows. Now, if I wanted to have more accurate ‘reflections’ in those windows, I could always leave that blue and just erase it off the window panes.
But either way, you’re done. That’s all there is to it. Gray skies turned blue in less than a minute.
However, to have thing a little more realistic looking, I created my own ‘clouds’ brush that’s now part of my permanent brush set. So, with a couple of extra clicks I can add some clouds and have a pretty nice looking sky – all without any magic wands, layer masks, extraction tools, or even any pictures of a sky.
And it can all be done in less than one minute.
Hopefully, you found this helpful. Maybe my next tutorial will be how to make your own cloud brush and clouds. They can come in very handy.