Scroll Top

Testing Photoshops New Sky Replacement Tool

Today, we’re going to showcase Photoshop’s brand-new sky replacement technology, but we’ll also delve into how and why to use it. It’s crucial to understand that the sky illuminates the ground. For example, on a sunny day, you’ll notice hard shadows, whereas on a cloudy day, shadows appear softer. So, let’s discuss choosing the correct image to replace your sky.

When analyzing lighting in an image, I typically start with the shadows. They provide insight into the light quality and direction. Let’s zoom in. As we can clearly see, there’s a shadow on the right side of this lighthouse, indicating that the light source, in this case, the sun, is coming from the left. We can further determine the direction by observing the angles of the shadows. For instance, this shadow falls at a particular angle, as does this one and this one. By marking these angles, we can pinpoint the sun’s direction. So, with bright sunlight and relatively hard shadows, we can infer the sun’s position. It’s likely off-camera to the left.

Now, let’s address the importance of analyzing the lighting in the original image, even for tasks like sky replacement, which is essentially a composite. Suppose I were to choose a new sky and blend it seamlessly but incorrectly position the sun. It wouldn’t look natural. Regardless of technical perfection, the sun’s placement affects the directionality of the shadows. So, ensuring the sun aligns correctly is crucial. Let’s grab this sky. Using the move tool, we’d position the sun accordingly.

Additionally, we must avoid using overly cloudy or sunset images. In our photo, we have well-defined shadows, indicating a sunny day with a relatively high sun position. Thus, selecting a sunset image wouldn’t be appropriate.

Alright, now that we’ve covered those aspects, let’s delve into our new sky replacement tool. I recommend making a duplicate of your background layer by hitting Control or Command J. Then, go to Edit, and now, brand new in our menu, sky replacement. I must say, this tool is incredible; it does a very good job. We have skies that are already included in different folders: blue skies, sunsets, and spectacular. Of course, you can add your own sky if you want to. So, let’s go ahead and go through some of these skies.

Now, I haven’t touched any of the default settings here; I’m literally just clicking on each one of these skies, and it’s doing it for me. So, it’s pretty easy. This is actually a fantastic image that will work. And the reason being is we can see we have highlights on the top side of the cloud, shadows on the bottom side, and they match relatively well with what’s going on in our image.

Now, let’s take a look at some of our sunset options. Photoshop, as a tool, is going to do a very nice job integrating these new sunset skies into this image. However, these photos, no matter what we do to them, are not going to look realistic because the direction of the light is completely different from the direction of the light in the original images. So it’s super important that we pay attention to our lighting direction and choose a photograph that’s going to mimic that.

Let’s go back through our blue skies. You can see we have quite a few examples. Honestly, I thought this one worked pretty well right here. Now, we do have a couple of tools that we can use. Obviously, there’s a little preview icon which will show you your before and after. You can hit control or command plus and then use your space bar to move around your image. So you can see this a little bit larger and get an idea of how it’s handling things like edges. You can always fade your edges less or more. And honestly, this is kind of just a click and drag set of sliders.

The thing that I love about this tool is the fact that we do have some edge refinement built into it. So I can grab my refine edge brush right here and I can simply add or remove sky. For instance, if it didn’t get in that little area, I could paint in there and it would add my sky to that area. If I wanted to remove something, I’ll simply hold alt or option and I could remove sky from a certain area if I wanted to do it as well. If it didn’t give me a Now we can also adjust things like our brightness. So obviously the sky can be brighter or darker. This is an important step as well.

Now, my favorite thing about all of this is the fact that you can choose how you wanna output it. So you can choose this to be new layers or duplicate layers. And when we output this, it’s just gonna look like regular adjustment layers with the layer masks built-in.

Let’s go ahead and hit okay. I’m gonna choose new layers, that’s my preference here. So let’s hit okay. And we can see in a group, a sky replacement group, I really gotta hand it to the folks at the Photoshop team. They’ve done a great job. This is exactly how you’d want this sort of tool to work. It’s non-destructive. It’s broken up into layers and groups using adjustment layers. The reason this is fantastic is that you can turn any of these off and on at any time. Sky temperature, the sky itself, my foreground lighting. I can turn this off and on the foreground color. For instance, if I was in my sky replacement dialog and I didn’t choose it bright enough. Let’s say I chose the brightness down a little bit. You could simply go back in here and up your brightness.

Now, big suggestion here, when you’re done using your brush in overlay blend mode, make sure to go right back up here and change your mode from overlay back to normal. Okay. That’s really tripped me up in the past where it’s, I left it on overlay and I’m trying to use my brush on a new layer and nothing is working and I can’t figure out why. It was because my brush was still in that overlay blend mode. Just don’t want to get you tripped up there. But here we can hold Alt or Option and click back on our sky and we have a beautiful sky replacement. I think the sky is a little bit bright. So we’re just going to bring that a little bit darker.

Also just turning this off and on, you can see the original sky wasn’t very saturated. You can see not a lot of saturation here. Well, guess what? I can just grab a hue saturation adjustment layer. Click, click on my little clipping mask icon here. You see this icon here. It’s going to clip this layer. You’ll see this little down arrow here when a layer is clipped. And as you follow it down, it’s going to affect the sky. So my hue saturation adjustment layer, I can have only affect the sky. Look at this. I could make it horrible or I could make it actually work well. But what I’m doing is trying to match the saturation of the original image.

Turning this off and on, you can see we have a saturation shift and the original image wasn’t very saturated. In this case, I’m actually going to reduce this a little bit more. There we go. Because I want to match the lighting of the original photograph. Look, that’s actually looking really good. Our lighting is spot on. You can also adjust the hue a bit, which would change the sky’s hue. We’ll pull this a bit to the left, introducing a touch more cyan. And there we go, a slight adjustment, and voilĂ ! Sky replacement completed in a matter of minutes. It’s incredibly easy to do. You can toggle this layer on and off at any time. It does an excellent job.

As mentioned earlier in the video, we discussed lighting direction and the importance of analyzing the original photo’s light when selecting the appropriate sky. That’s really the key to making this tool work seamlessly for you. Thank you so much for watching today’s video.