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How to Add Clouds in Photoshop

Published: 20/05/2021

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Sometimes, clouds are missing on a clear sky, causing a monotonous effect in the images we capture. The addition of clouds via image manipulation brings a lot of attraction to the otherwise dull sky. Learn how to add clouds in Photoshop to bring a realistic appeal to the background of your exterior view images. 

How to Add Clouds in Photoshop Using Multiple Techniques

With Photoshop, you can sprinkle magic onto your photos and make them look way better than they actually are. Even a simple outside view of a property can be changed to one’s desire to make it look more interesting. All you need to do is learn to use the extensive range of tools and features in Photoshop.

From adding natural, subtle effects like sunshine and clouds to dramatic ones like snow and rainfall, there is no limit to how you can transform your images in Photoshop. In this article, we will focus on techniques that you can use to add realistic clouds to your image’s background. 

You will see that not only these methods are easy to follow and quick, they also give highly appealing results, making the sky in your photos worth watching. The viewer won’t be able to tell the difference whether these clouds are real or fake. So let’s get started.

Adding Clouds Using the Cloud Filter

The cloud filter is a convenient way to add clouds to the image using just a few steps. 

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Make a duplicate layer of your background by selecting the layer from the Layer panel and hitting CTRL + J (Windows) or CMD + J (Mac). Making a duplicate ensures non-destructive editing. 
  3. From the toolbar on the left side, choose the Magic Wand tool and select the area to which you want to add clouds. 
Adding clouds in Photoshop using the Cloud Filter
  1. Next, you need to select your foreground and background color. This step is a simple way to determine the color of your clouds that is white (Foreground), and the color of the sky that is blue (Background). You can select the colors by opening the Color picker from the toolbar by clicking on the foreground color.
  2. Once the color of foreground and background is defined, it’s time to add the cloud filter.
  3. Click on the Filter menu on top and go to Render. From the expanded menu, click on Clouds.
Clouds option under Render in Photoshop
  1. Now come to the Layer panel. Select the duplicate background layer.
  2. From the blending modes drop-down, select Screen.
  3. You can also adjust the texture and size of the cloud layer if you are not completely satisfied with it. Select the layer, and go to the Edit menu.
  4. Click on Free Transform. Alternatively, you can hit CTRL + T (Windows) or CMD + T (Mac).
  5. Once a border appears around the selection, drag it manually to resize until you get the desired look. Remember to hold down the SHIFT key while you are resizing.
Resizing with Free Transform to create clouds in Photoshop
  1. The keyboard shortcut to apply the cloud filter is CTRL + F (Windows) or CMD + F(Mac). You can reapply the filter if the effect is too subtle to get noticed.
  2. You can also add contrast to the cloudy sky by pressing ALT + CTRL + F (Windows) or OPT + CMD + F (Mac).

Adding Clouds in Photoshop by Blending Images

This method can be used if you have a nice image of a sky with clouds. What you can do is blend the clouds image with the image that needs editing. Photoshop allows you to do that seamlessly.

Basically, this method involves replacing the part of the image that has the sky with the cloudy sky image. 

  1. The first thing you need to do is open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Make a selection of the sky area. You can use any selection tool according to the image’s requirement. For a precise selection, we recommend using the quick selection tool.
  3. As we need to break up the image into the sky layer and the ground elements, inverse the selection by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + I (Windows) or CMD + SHIFT + I(Mac). 
  4. In the layers panel, press the icon for Create a New Layer. This will turn our selection into a new layer, which means your image sans the sky area is now a separate layer.
  5. Now open the image with clouds in another tab.
  6. Using the Move tool, select the image, drag it, and drop it onto the original image.
  7. You will have three layers now in your layer panel. The Background, the Ground elements without the sky, and the clouds.
  8. As the sky needs to be added behind the ground, drag the layer and drop it below the selected ground layer.
  9. You can make adjustments to the color and contrast of the clouds using Levels or Curve if it seems a little off. 

Adding Clouds By Making A Custom Cloud Brush

This method gives you the best control over the addition of clouds as you can add as many or as few of them as you like. The technique involves creating a custom brush for clouds which you can use whenever you need.

  1. Open Photoshop, and create a new file. Size doesn’t matter here so you can choose any dimensions.
  2. Fill the background with a color that matches the sky. You can use a solid color here.
  3. From the toolbar on the left, select the Brush tool.
  4. Go to the Window menu and choose the Brush Settings. This is where you will basically mimic the cloud texture and turn it into a custom brush.
  5. Firstly, set the brush size to approximately 450 px and hardness to 0%. Set the spacing to 35%.
  6. Tick Shape Dynamic and set its values. Keep all the controls off, and set size jitter to less than 50%, Minimum diameter to 30%, and roundness jitter to 20%.
  7. Next, tick Scattering, and set the scatter value to “Both Axes” and 120%. Keep the count to 10, and count jitter a 100%.
  8. Next, check the Texture. Click on the texture settings icon on the right and click on Patterns. Select the clouds’ texture.
  9. You can choose the scale of Texture to 500%, depth to 100%, and depth jitter to 60%. Remember to check the Texture to each tip box and select the Subtract mode.
  10. Now check the Transfer option, and apply 10% opacity jitter and 100% flow jitter. Check the smoothing option as well.
Adding clouds by making a custom cloud brush in Photoshop
  1. Save the brush by clicking on the top-right icon in brush settings and select “New Brush Preset. Name your brush, and click on OK.
  2. Now you just need to create a new layer above the background and select the brush using the keyboard shortcut for brush tool that is B.
  3. Set the foreground color (white for clouds).
  4. Now when you start painting on the background, you will see white, natural-looking clouds appear on the canvas.
Clouds Photoshopped in image

Sky Replacement Tool in Updated Photoshop Version

Photoshop introduced a brand new feature in version 22.0, which is the Sky Replacement option. It really speeds up the process of adding a cloudy sky to your images. Photoshop uses Artificial Intelligence, known as Adobe Sensei, to replace the sky in your photos via this feature.

You can simply choose the option to replace the sky in the image by selecting Edit > Sky Replacement and fine-tune it later if you desire. 

Takeaway

Creating clouds on plain skies brings life to your images, helping in perking up the final look. In Photoshop, you can do so using a variety of methods, and that too in the most realistic way. You can pick any of the methods mentioned above to add clouds that seem better according to your image requirements.

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