How to add a sky in Photoshop:
I am going to be adding a sky in photoshop for this tutorial. Although these overlays should work in any program that uses layers.
First start with the image open that you would like to add the new sky to. The images that work best for this kind of process are images that have a mostly white or blown out sky, like the one below.
Next go to 'file' and then 'place ' to select the sky overlay that you would like to insert. I chose #8.
Once it brings up the new sky that you have chosen drag it over the background image so that the sky lines up with the horizon line in your image. This is very important for a realistic looking sky. All of my overlays have the horizon line right at the bottom of the picture so that there is no weird distortion when placed over the image.
Once the horizons are lined up press 'enter'.
Then you will be creating a layer mask on the sky overlay layer. Click the layer mask button to do this.
After it has created a layer mask for you, a white layer should show up linked to the sky overlay layer. It should still be visible over the background though.
Next we will 'INVERT' the layer mask so that it will not be seen over the background layer. To do this press CTRL "I" while the white layer mask is selected.
It should change the white layer mask you had to black and now you should see the original background image.
Next we will be selecting the blown out white areas of the sky that we would like to replace. To so this....
First click on the background layer.
Then go to 'select' and ' color range'
After you select this it will come up with a small box asking you what you would like to select. Click on the white part of the sky. Move your fuzziness slider until there is a clearly defined line between the sky and foreground. It should be a sharp contrast between black and white here. The numbers may be different for your image. Just go for the sharp contrasting horizon line. When you have it hit 'OK'
It will bring up what you have selected with ' marching ants' outlining it.
It should have anything that is white in your picture or of that color range selected. It it chooses parts of your picture besides the sky it is ok, as it can be masked off later. Since I made my fuzziness so sharp it did a pretty good job of just getting the sky in this one.
Next you will click on the 'black layer mask' layer and choose the gradient tool on the toolbar. You will want to make sure that the gradient is going from black to white in the top left corner.
Next moving in an upward motion from the horizon line to the top of the picture fill the still selected space with the gradient tool.
Since the black layer mask was selected it will show the sky you chose in the selected area. The reason we go from the horizon up is because skies always tend to be whiter at the horizon. When we use the gradient to go up from there, it will make the horizon line area lighter and the top darker. This is the most realistic way to fill in the sky. If you have your gradient tool on a lower opacity you can do this several times to darken it or make it the way you want. You can also go on diagonals to make the light source more realistic. Think about where the light is coming from in your image when choosing a sky, and also when filling. This will make the light hitting your subject look more real. After it is filled in to your liking hit 'CTRL' and 'D" to deselect the sky area.
To erase any areas that where filled in that you don't want to be( skin or clothes) Just use the brush tool set to black. Click on the layer mask and mask off any areas you don't want the sky to show up.
The final step is matching color. Most of the time I will add the sky in first to my image before I do any toning or color changes to that those changes are applied to the whole image and match well. Although sometimes this step is still sometimes very helpful. I felt like the sky needed a little more saturation to match the bottom of the image. So with the sky layer selected. I added a hue/ saturation layer.
To make the adjustments only apply to the sky and not my entire image, I locked the hue saturation layer to the sky layer. I did this by clicking the little black and white circles at the bottom of my adjustment layers palette. I adjusted it to my liking and flattened the image. All done!!!
You can do the same thing with curves or levels and just link it to layer before flattening to change it even more. I added some birds in there too just for fun:)
Hope this tutorial helps. Please message me at
with additional questions!