Photoshop tip - Creating blue skies in Photoshop

08th February 2010
It's happened to us all. You take a photo on a beautiful sunny day and when you donwload or print the photo you find that the sky looks more like Barnet than Barbados.

If you want to improve the blue skies in your holiday shots then you can watch the following video or read the tutorial below.

Getting a blue sky in the camera
When taking a photo you should always take the best shot you can in the circumstances even if you're going to jazz things up later in Photoshop. It makes life easier later and always leads to a better result anyway.

To get the richest blue sky possible you should face 90 degrees to the sun and use a polarising filter. If the overall scene allows you could try under-exposing a bit too, but the first two tips will be a great start.

Using Photoshop to create blue skies
Open a photo where you have a rather faded blue sky and washed out clouds.

Something like this shot of a fishing platform in Malaysia (although this sky isn't too bad anyway).

Select a new layer by clicking this icon in the layers area on the right of your screen:

If it's not there then click on 'Windows' at the top of the screen and then select 'Layers' from the drop down menu.

Next, make sure you're foreground and background colours are set to black and white. Just hit the 'D' button on your keyboard to do this.

Now click the gradient tool from the toolbar on the left of your screen. It looks like this:

With the gradient tool selected you'll have some icons appear at the top of the screen and you need to select the 'linear gradient' option that looks like this:

Now drag the gradient cursor down the centre of the image from the top of the photo to the bottom of the sky. This will leave you with a grey tint. All you do now is click on the blending mode box where it currently says 'normal'. It looks like this:

Now select 'Overlay' from the drop down box.

This should give you the result you want but if you want to increase the effect you can press Control and J at the same time to duplicate the layer and double the impact.

If you find the effect has gone down too far in some places (ie. it's effected the landscape) then you can use the eraser tool in the toolbar to rub out the effect where you don't want it. this is how mine came out:

That's it - you now know how to get travel magazine quality blue skies.

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