Most Interesting Way to Replace a Sky in Photoshop

It’s all about Grow and Similar today in this tutorial about putting a new sky into your photo. We’ll talk about how to select a sky that has tree tips sticking up into it and replacing the sky as perfectly as we can by combining our selection with the Refine Edge command and then tweaking the mask with the Brush tool after we have our initial mask. You will know how to replace almost any sky by the end of this tutorial!1. It all Starts With the Lasso Tool

1. It all Starts With the Lasso Tool

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-01 Grab the Lasso Tool (L) and draw a little selection in the sky over just some of the blue area.

2. Time to GROW!

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-02 Go Select>Grow and watch your selection spread out and Photoshop will select adjoining pixels of a similar color as long as they’re reasonably close to the colors you had in your initial selection. You’re going to have to hit Select>Grow several times for pretty much every selection you’re interested in making. Go Select>Grow and watch your selection spread out and Photoshop will select adjoining pixels of a similar color as long as they’re reasonably close to the colors you had in your initial selection. You’re going to have to hit Select>Grow several times for pretty much every selection you’re interested in making.

3. How to Use “Similar”

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-03 Select>Grow only selects adjoining pixels of a similar color, whereas Select>Similar will select pixels of similar color, but from everywhere in your image even if they are not adjoining pixels. This makes it particularly useful in our example here because we want to select sky color even in between tree branches and all the stuff sticking up into the sky blue color. Go Select>Similar to extent the reach of our selection again.

4. Lasso the Clouds

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-04 Since the clouds are just hanging in the sky and are not part of the difficult to select edge of the trees, we can simply include them in our sky selection by grabbing the Lasso Tool (L) and holding down our Shift key and drag a quick selection around the clouds you wish to have included in your sky selection.

5. Refining the Edge

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-05 Once we have used enough of Grow and Similar, we want to go Select>Refine Edge. In the video above you can see exactly how I worked with the Smart Radius and the Edge Refine Brush tool to paint over the tips of the trees to get a much better selection.

6. Continue to Tweak the Refined Edge

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-06 I also checked on the Decontaminate Color option and played around with the slider to adjust how the selected area interacts with the color of the background behind it. If you’re still not getting a great edge, try shifting the edge using that slider. I usually shift the slider to the left because this will peel back and size of the selection and sometimes get rid of troublesome pixels.

7. Output Layer Mask

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-07a replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-07b Choose to output the selection to a layer mask in the Decontaminate Color area and then hit OK to create a layer that has a mask hiding the stuff we didn’t select.

8. Drag the New Sky Into Place

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-08 Drag a new image into this document and then hold down Alt/Opt and drag that mask we just created up onto this new layer to mask this new sky to just the sky area in our image. Unlink the layer from the mask by hitting the little link icon if you need to move the sky around or Free Transform it.

9. Continue Tweaking the Mask

replace-sky-photo-grow-similar-09 There are some brush tricks to help get this edge more perfect and some other things that I did to help complete the look. Check out the video at the top of this tutorial to get all the details and see exactly how I pushed this along throughout the tutorial and learn more info about sky replacement and the Grow and Similar commands in Photoshop!