You can add clouds to an image to create an interesting atmospheric effect and replace a plain blue sky. Learning how to add clouds using Photoshop is easy and will allow you to create the exact mood you’re looking for in your pics.

tree with grey clouds

Pic by Bessi (available under Pixabay License)

First Method: Easy Cloud Filter Tutorial

This filter is a convenient method that helps you create a cloudy sky texture.

Make a Copy of Your Background

Start by opening your image in Photoshop. Create a copy of the background photo. Working on the background layer will prevent the clouds from looking out of place.

Filter Render Clouds

The filter render clouds will create the right texture for your sky. It’s a quick and easy way of adding clouds to any section of your photo.

You can find this filter by clicking on the filter menu, then render, and clouds.


Pic by Simon (available under Pixabay License)

Blend the Sky Layer

Choose the background layer where you added the clouds in the layer panel. Click on the blending mode drop-down menu and choose the screen mode.

Adjust Texture Size

You might want to resize your cloud layer to get a natural effect. The render tool will create a uniform texture for the entire photo, but the size of the texture might not match your composition.

You can experiment with resizing the cloud layer to create unique effects and make some clouds look closer than others.

Click on the sky layer, click on edit, and free transform. You will see a border appear around the layer. You can drag this border to resize the photo manually. Make sure to hold the shift key to avoid distorting it.

mountains with clouds

Pic by Kanenori (available under Pixabay License)

Add a Reveal All Layer Mask

The reveal all layer mask tool makes layers visible. Click on the sky layer, choose add layer mask, and then reveal all to apply this effect on your image.

If you want to have clouds in one portion of your sky, create a customized selection on your sky layer. Click on the layer mask option, and then reveal selection or hide selection.

Finishing Touches

The great think about using layer masks in your image is that you can use the paintbrush to make portions of your layer visible.

Applying the reveal all layer mask will superimpose clouds everywhere on your image. Use a black paintbrush to cover sections of the mask where you don’t want clouds to appear.

You can use a white paintbrush to reveal some portions of your mask and make some areas partially visible with a dark or light gray paintbrush.

Choose a paintbrush with soft edges to get a more natural effect, and don’t hesitate to experiment in your image with tools like brush size, opacity, and color.

Second Method: Blending Two Images

Instead of using a filter to create a texture, you can create Photoshop clouds by blending two images.

Select Your Landscape

Start by selecting the foreground of your composition. The selection should include everything that isn’t the sky you want to replace.

The easiest way of selecting an entire landscape is to use the quick select option on the sky. Once you have selected the entire sky, click on select and inverse. Your selection should cover the ground element.

This method will work best if you have a sky with a uniform color. You’ll get better results with the color range tool if there is a color gradient in your sky.

beach pier

Pic by Free-Photos (available under Pixabay License)

Create a New Layer for Your Landscape

You can create a new layer with Command or Control + J or by selecting the new layer option on the layer panel.

Copy and paste your selection onto the new layer.

Open Your Sky Image

Open an image with the clouds or sky you want to blend with your landscape. You can use a photograph you captured or a free stock photo.

Create a New Layer for the Sky

Repeat the process of creating a new layer and copy and paste the image with the clouds you want to add to your clouds for Photoshop composition.

Combine the Two Images

Choose the layer with the clouds in the layer panel. Click on it and drag it to place it behind the foreground.

grass field

Pic by Bessi (available under Pixabay License)

Apply a Gradient

You can make your Photoshop on cloud composition look more natural by using a gradient. Use the gradient tool and set the foreground to transparent in the gradient options.

Choose the linear option, set the mode to normal, and leave the opacity on 100%. Start in the foreground of your image to apply the gradient effect. Hold the Shift key to create a straight line.

The purpose of applying a gradient effect is to create a hazy effect on the horizon line. You might have to go through a process of trial and error to get the gradient effect in the one spot where it will create the illusion of a natural horizon line.

thunder clouds

Pic by FelixMittermeier (available under Pixabay License)

Additional Questions

Here are a few other things you should know before you add clouds.

  • How to render clouds Photoshop CS6

The tutorial should work with Photoshop CS6 since you will find the cloudy sky filter and all the other tools mentioned in this version of Photoshop. If you don’t see the right filter, open the filter gallery to find it.

  • Cloud brush Photoshop

You can create a cloudy sky texture with a brush instead of using a filter. You can download some free brushes or invest in a brush bundle if you want more textures to choose from for your creations.

  • How to blend sky in Photoshop

Our tutorial outlines basic steps to follow to use layers and a gradient effect to add a sky to a landscape. Feel free to experiment with these tools to create more realistic compositions.

You can use the perspective transform option to add depth to the sky and use a low opacity brush on a layer mask instead of the gradient effect to create a natural horizon line.

The lens blur filter is another interesting option for creating the illusion of space and depth, and you should adjust brightness and contrast to blend the two images more seamlessly.

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