21 Replies Latest reply on Apr 24, 2012 8:37 AM by photodrawken

    Making an overblown sky look blue.


      I have struggled and struggled with the different ways to "make" a blue sky where there isn't one, including taking photos of blue skies with nice clouds, but no luck!!  Would REALLY appreciate ANY help and suggestions that have WORKED for you with enhancing a sky so that it looks REAL.  Thank you in advance!   =)

        • 1. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
          photodrawken Rockstar

          This tutorial should help:



          The PSE9 Help menu has a link to the video tutorials.


          Other than that, unless you post an example of an original and a description of what you want (clouds or not, increase the contrast of the existing sky, create your own sky and clouds, etc.) it's difficult to give more concrete examples -- there're many options available.



          • 2. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
            hatstead Rockstar

            The Alibony technique is especially effective for changing the sky color between arborization of a tree:



            • 3. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
              photodrawken Rockstar

              Ehh...I don't like her method -- she still winds up with the new sky pixels blending onto the foliage (or the original white sky appearing where she paints).  Far better, IMO, to spend the time selecting the original sky using the Magic Wand (non-contiguous) and proceeding from there.



              • 4. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                SMiller_81567 Newcomer

                Thank you Ken!!!  This is one of the many videos I have watched.  I wasn't getting the best effect with this one either.  =(  Must be something I'm just not doing correctly!  I am going to watch it again and give it a go!  =)

                • 5. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                  SMiller_81567 Newcomer

                  Thank you for this link ~ seems like a good resource!  I tried her technique and it worked except I'm having a little issue with my trees still.  Going to work with it some more.  Appreciate your help!  =)

                  • 6. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                    SMiller_81567 Newcomer

                    I have tried the technique of combining my original photo and a cloud photo but still the trees just look "weird" (for lack of a better term!).  Any helpful hints there?

                    • 7. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                      photodrawken Rockstar

                      OK, I had a lot of "fun" with this one!   I choose the most difficult example I could find, and the result isn't too bad.  Here's the original:

                      1. I made two copies of the background layer.
                      2. On the uppermost layer copy, I converted it to Black & White using the "Scenic Landscape" setting and increased the contrast to get this image to use for selecting the sky:
                      3. On that B&W layer, I used the Magic Wand with a "Tolerance" of 35, and set to "Anti-alias" and de-sesected "Contiguous" to select the sky.
                      4. Then, I used Selection...Refine Edge with these settings:  Smooth 0px, Feather 0.0px, Contract/Expand +15%.
                      5. I used the Selection Brush Tool in "Selection" mode to clean up the selection -- eliminating areas in the foreground, middle ground and tree trunks, etc, that had been selected by the Magic Wand.
                      6. Then, working on the other Background copy layer, I deleted that fixed-up (sky) selection.
                      7. I pasted in a cloud photo on its own layer.  The layers wound up looking like this:


                      Here's the final result:


                      There still are some white artifacts around some small details.  I think that by experimenting with the B&W conversion and its contrast and levels, the sky selection could be made more accurately and those artifacts eliminated.  However, I ain't gettin' paid for this so I'll stop....



                      • 8. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                        MTSTUNER Ninja

                        This example isn't nearly as nice to look at as photodrawken's (nice job), but shows

                        a slightly different way as described here:










                        layers palette:





                        after sky replacement:






                        Just two things:


                        1. use a levels adjustment layer instead of a curves layer


                        2. where is says select the bottom most layer and add a curves adjustment layer, that

                            means the bottom sky layer.









                        • 9. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                          photodrawken Rockstar

                          That'll work for that sample image.  It seems to me that the key (no matter what method is used) is to get an accurate selection of either the sky or the foliage.  I want to avoid as much "hand painting" as I can, and let PSE compute the selection.


                          I'm thinking that there could be another way of getting that selection -- by defining a mask.  Perhaps by duplicating the original a few times and merging them with the "Multiply" mode?  That might be a way of dropping out the whites and converting the rest to essentially black while preserving all the fine details.  Will experiment with this....


                          How did you get the mask for your "new sky" layer?



                          • 10. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                            MTSTUNER Ninja

                            The method i used above works best with images where the sky is totally blown out

                            and the horizon is well defined and your wiiling to make the sky kinda light as opposed to

                            a real dark sky as in your example, it doesn't work so well for images like the one you used.


                            The darken mode on the first sky layer and painting black to the tree line (horizon) on the

                            sky layer copy sorta makes the mask and levels layer removes most of the remaining sky

                            from the trees and buildings. I had to add a layer mask to the the sky layer because there

                            was so much white in the building and removing using the levels layer would have made

                            to sky to light.


                            The other layer that says darken flag pole was done with a shadow/highlights

                            adjustment , well pse 2's version of the shadow/highlights, because the pole and the mini

                            rotundra were so blown out. And top layer straighten was a merged copy using the

                            perspective, rotate and free transform to make the bulding look a little better.




                            • 11. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                              MTSTUNER Ninja

                              Making a mask for the image you posted is not easy in photoshop elements, so

                              i kinda cheated by using a plugin called Mac's Remove White filter which is free.





                              1. Duplicated the background layer and ran the remove white filter to create a mask.




                              2. Put the new sky below the remove white layer.




                              3. Turned of the visibility of all the layers except the background layer and defined a pattern

                                 from that layer. (pse doesn't have history brush, so a pattern makes a good substitute)


                              4. Made the layers visible and made a merged copy for the restore from history layer.


                              5. Selected the Pattern Stamp Tool set to aligned and that pattern and painted back

                                  in the areas the plugin removed and over the blue in the trees.












                              • 12. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                photodrawken Rockstar

                                Thanks for the explanation.


                                I fooled around with the idea of creating a mask by first making 4 copies of the image and successively blending them with "Linear Burn" and merging them down, one by one.  That worked OK to get a high contrast image that I converted to B&W, then used Levels to eliminate the grays.  The result was a very good image to use for selecting the trees (or sky), and I could use that to create a mask for the image to let the clouds show through.


                                However, after a few hours of playing around, I still wound up with "ghostly" looking branches (the thinnest branches).  It turns out that in the original image the fine tracery of the small branches is mostly shades of gray.  That's not a problem in the original image, where the sky is pale gray, but after applying a dark sky, those gray branches looked awful.


                                So, the image I chose is the limiting factor here.  If I add a dark sky, I'm forced to "squeeze" down the width of the branches to the point where the thinnest ones are lost.  This is what I showed in the final image in my previous post, and that final image is pretty much the best that can be done given the original image and the desire to add in a dark sky.


                                Whew!  Did more stuff with levels, conversions, selections, contractions, feathering, etc., than I expected!



                                • 13. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                  photodrawken Rockstar

                                  Bingo!  That's the way to do it -- your final image is the best one yet.  I always ignored that Remove White plug-in, because I thought I could accomplish the same using the built-in PSE tools, but your example disproves that theory.


                                  Thanks also for the tip about creating a pattern for adding back in the image areas.   That'll come in handy.


                                  I'll give it a try and see how it works when using a sky photo with dark sky showing behind the upper branches....



                                  • 14. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                    Mark Sand Champion

                                    There's another similar filter KillWhite at http://yaelmaritz.com/extras.php


                                    I'll try your steps with the tree example and see if I get similar results with KillWhite.

                                    • 15. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                      hatstead Rockstar



                                      Mac's white filter raised havoc with PSEv.8 on WIN 7 on my machine.

                                      I deleted the 8BF and everything is back to normal.

                                      • 16. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                        photodrawken Rockstar

                                        Same here with PSE9 on Win7 x64.  I'll be looking for an alternative.



                                        • 17. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                          photodrawken Rockstar


                                          Thanks for that link to KillWhite.  It works perfectly here.


                                          Here's the final result, and it looks very good.  Just a little wonkiness in the leaves on the upper right:



                                          Couldn't be simpler -- these are the layers:


                                          N.B.:  There is a noticeable tradeoff in quality when using the KillWhite filter, however.  It reduces the white component of the pixels throughout the entire image, resulting in a noticeable colour shift and value change (darker).  The right side of this image is the original, the left side has been processed with KillWhite:





                                          Just noticed that the large tree trunks were blown out by KillWhite and the blue sky is showing through them.  Will need to use MTSTUNER's method of implementing a Pattern Stamp to restore the original trunks.


                                          Message was edited by: photodrawken -- Additional thoughts.

                                          • 18. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                            photodrawken Rockstar

                                            Aha!  I discovered that the KillWhite filter will respect a selection, so I didn't need to set up a Pattern Stamp as a history tool to restore parts of the original image.  Before using KillWhite, I simply used the Selection Brush tool (in "Mask" mode) to protect areas of the image:


                                            Then, applying KillWhite gives this result:


                                            Much better!



                                            • 19. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                              SMiller_81567 Newcomer

                                              Thank you photodrawken, MSTUNER and Mark Sand for ALL of your wonderful help with this one!!  It's my first experience with a question to the Forum and I was surprised at all the great responses to help me!  Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to sit with it and go through all the steps but hope to be able to in the next couple days!!!!


                                              Have a great week! 

                                              • 21. Re: Making an overblown sky look blue.
                                                photodrawken Rockstar

                                                Ja, alle die Arbeit wurde wirklich gemacht mit PSE und das Plug-in, die erwähnt wurde.