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What do you do with a sky that's dark and stormy, blown out, or just plain ordinary? You can spend hours trying to enhance it, or you can replace it in just a few simple steps. Chris Orwig shows you how in this Portrait Project. He'll show you how to make and refine a selection, mask out the sky, and insert a new, more dramatic sky—all in Adobe Photoshop. In order to make your replacement look natural, Chris spends the second half of the course showing how to improve the detail, color, and tone of your new composite.
When it comes to changing backgrounds, sometimes it's a good idea to have different options. And so far, we have two options. We have this version here, with these clouds, and then we also have the underlying version as well. Well, next, what I want to do is create yet another version, where we flip this layer horizontally, and rotate it a little bit, and then fill in any gaps that we created when we rotated, or free transformed, the layer. You'll see what I mean in a second. We'll go ahead and target the middle layer, then click and drag this to the New Layer icon.
Next, what we want to do is free transform and flip this layer horizontally. . To do that, press Cmd+T on a mac, Ctrl+T on Windows. That's a shortcut which gives us access to free transform. So again, target the layer, then press Cmd+T on a Mac, Ctrl+T on Windows. Then position your cursor over the transform area, and right-click or control-click. When you do that it will open up a contextual menu, which is incredibly helpful.
And in this menu we're looking for the option which is flip horizontal. This will only flip the layer which we've selected, which we want to free transform. So here let's choose that option, flip horizontal. In doing that you can see that now the lighting is matching up a little bit more closely. We have the light coming from the right and the shadows on the left. Now I don't actually like the angle of the clouds right here. Remember how we talked about the horizon, how everything is sort of pointing in this direction? The clouds now are sort of pointing up.
To change that I'm going to position my cursor near the corner and then click and drag to rotate that. In doing that we can have this a little bit more level with the horizon, which is actually at a bit of an angle there. Then I'm going to use my arrow keys to nudge this around, and even rotate it a little bit more. Then use the arrow keys again just to nudge it around to just the right spot. Alright, well, I think right about there looks pretty good. Then, next, we'll press enter or return in order to apply that transformation to the photograph.
After we've transformed this, we can still use our arrow keys, positioning this up, or down, or to the left, or to the right, depending upon how we want this to appear. So I'll just move these around, just a little bit here until I get them to just the right spot. Now, one of the problems with this particular spot is that if we turn off the visibility of the underlying layers, what we'll see, if we zoom in here a little bit, is that we now have a gap in this side and also a gap over here on this side and a bit of the island is showing up as well.
Well, we need to clean up some of those details. To do that, what we're going to do is to make a selection of this area and then use Content Aware Fill in order to fill it in. Let me show you how that works. Just for simplicity's sake, let's turn off the visibility of our top layer so we can really target this layer here. Next, we'll use the lasso tool. You can select that by pressing the L key. Or by clicking on the lasso tool icon. Then you can, yeehaw, lasso the selection up.
Just click and drag around that area. After you've done that, you want to perform what's called Content Aware Fill. You can access Content Aware Fill, by going to Edit, and then Fill. Again, you make the selection, then you choose Edit > Fill. In this dialogue, from the Contents pull-down menu, you want to choose the option for Content Aware, and then click okay. What this will do is it will have Photoshop invent, or makeup, or fill in that area with surrounding content.
If we choose Select and then Deselect, we can see the results. And in this case, it did a pretty good job. The only problem that I'm noticing is that, if I zoom in a little bit closer here, is that there may be some little repeating patterns. It actually looks pretty good. But if there are, you can go back with a tool, like the Spot Healing Brush, and just paint over a few little edges or areas in order to add a little bit of variety. Next, let's move over to this side of the frame. Over here on this side, we have a smaller gap.
But again, we'll do the same thing. This will be a good way to practice the technique. Select the lasso tool, give a good old yeehaw, and make a selection of the area that you want to fill in. Then, next, navigate to the Edit pull down menu and choose Fill. Again, it's Selection, then Edit > Fill. And then choose Content Aware and click okay. And that will fill in that gap which we had there. I always like to go back to Select and choose Deselect, and just to evaluate the edge, to make sure it looks really good.
And of course we also want to turn on the visibility of our top layer, just to make sure that it really fits in with that layer there. Here, I'll press the space bar key, and click and drag over to this side of the frame, and I think the area that's filled in looks good. The only issue now is we have a little bit of this mountaintop showing here. Well, to get rid of that, we can do a few things. One easy way to get rid of it would be to work with a Clone Stamp tool. Let's do that. Here, we'll click on the New Layer icon to create a new layer.
And we'll go ahead and call this new layer Cleanup. Double-click the layer name and you can type a new name for it. Then, select the Clone Stamp tool by pressing the S key or by clicking on the Clone Stamp tool icon. With this tool, what we want to do is we want to use a nice small brush, maybe somewhere around 60 or so, and a brush without any hardness, a soft-edge brush. We also want to leave our opacity up right to 100. And you want to make sure Aligned is checked on, and Sample All Layers.
Choose the option for All Layers here, so that you can do your cloning work on the new layer that we have here. Alright, well, let's turn off the visibility of the top layer for a moment. We won't be needing that. And then we'll position our cursor over this area. Hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows to sample. Move your cursor down over that part of the mountain, and just start to paint it away. You can also sample over different areas as well, if you just want to create a little bit of a variety there. So just Option, or Alt-Click different parts of that cloud area, and then, of course, turn on the visibility of the top layer just to make sure that you got rid of enough of that mountaintop, and it looks like we did.
We've now hidden that part of the photograph. And now that we've done that, let's zoom out, so that we can evaluate the entire frame, and how this new cloudscape background is fitting into the image. What we can do is we can click on the eye icons to see the before, and then here is the after. We can also compare that with the other clouds. Here is before with the clouds which have the light coming from the different direction. And you know, I think this would actually work, because often, with the way that we see clouds, we don't necessarily clue into direction of light as much, because clouds are such interesting shapes, and because one cloud could be blocking the light from another.
Yet, nonetheless, we do have a couple of options here. These two options and then, also, last but not least, we have the option where we have the sunset clouds as well.
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