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Improving a flat sky with Difference Clouds


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Improving a flat sky with Difference Clouds

In the previous movie about clouds I said don't be fooled by the name, the Clouds filter and the Difference Clouds filter are about so much more than creating clouds. But every once in a while may be that is exactly what we want to do with them and indeed that is what we can do with them. So here I have a picture with hardly any sky, very flat sky, virtually no color in it whatsoever, I mean really the best place for this picture is in the bin.

But let's say that we have to resurrect this picture and we want to give it a bit of life, so wouldn't it be nice if we had a blue sky and that's what we can do with Difference Clouds and a color fill layer. So I'm going to close this, the finished version, and here is the starting point. Now there are a numerous ways we can do this and this is the way I'm going to do it. I'm going add a Solid Color layer, and that Solid Color layer I'm going to fill with blue that has this spec 78, 148, 218.

Now I got that color blue just by going and finding a sky that I liked using my Eyedropper tool and Sampling those values. So that's the color blue that I want, and now what I'm going to blend that in, first of all I'll choose Multiply as my Blend mode and it's going to look like that. And of course, that is looking kind of weird, making my whole image now look very blue, so to rectify that I'm going to come to my layer Mask. My layer mask, currently there is nothing on it.

So on my layer Mask, I'm going to set my foreground and background colors to Black and White, and then come to the Filter menu and choose Render. I could use Clouds but to get more contrast I'm going to use Difference Clouds, and it's going to look like that. So let's go and see what's happened here. The layer Mask now looks like that and let's say I want a bit more contrast still, then we just need to run the filter again and since that we've already run the Filter once we can just choose it from the top of the Filter menu or use the keyboard shortcut Command+F or Ctrl+F, and every time I do it, it's going to get a little bit more contrasty, and then when we see in the context of the whole composition it looks like this.

The lighter areas are revealing the blue and the darker areas are concealing the blue, effectively giving us a cloudy sky. No, I'm not a Meteorologist and I don't know the name of this type of cloud but, I've seen clouds like this. It's not the most convincing cloud in the world and there maybe better ways to do this, but it's a very quick and effective way of generating some clouds. Now just to improve things a bit though I am going to make sure that we don't have any of the clouds applying to the foreground, so I'm going to choose my Gradient tool by pressing G, and I want to make sure that I'm working with a gradient that is Foreground to Transparent with black as my Foreground color, and I'm going to drag up from the bottom to about there and that's going to put an area of solid black down at the bottom where there is actually detail other than the sky and the London Eye.

So we're not getting blue on top of the trees or anything else, and then I'm just going to turn down the Opacity on this because it's just looking a little bit too fake. So if I bring the Opacity down to about 50% then it looks quite plausible I think and if we turn it off, there is our starting point and then when we turn it on, there is a now blue and cloudy sky.

Improving a flat sky with Difference Clouds
Video duration: 3m 43s 4h 38m Intermediate

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Improving a flat sky with Difference Clouds provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the Photoshop for Designers: Textures

Subject:
Design
Software:
Photoshop
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