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Sky Replacement in Photoshop, ultimate tutorial – free sky images included.

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How to replace a sky in Photoshop

Sky replacement is explained, so you know what every adjustment does, as well as how to refine and change anything. Even after you have applied the Sky Replacement filter. Β I have included a sky pack containing 5 of my own sky images that you can download and use for free, (Non-commercial use). Watch the video to see everything in action and then look at these written notes and study the helpful chart.

How to use Sky Replacement in Photoshop

Start with the photograph. Here is one I shot, I love the photo, but the sky is boring, a perfect candidate.

1. Choose Edit>Sky Replacement.

replacing a boring sky in photoshop

You will see see the Sky Replacement dialog box, and the shy will be replaced with the currently selected sky. If you don’t see any skies, watch the video to see how to get the default set in Photoshop. (You should watch the video anyway, as there is a lot of additional info).

new sky replacement filter

How to Get custom skies into Photoshop

You can use the default skies that are preinstalled in Photoshop, or use your own.

1. Click the arrow in the pane to open the menu.

2. Click the + to load in skies.

3. Navigate to the images you want to use. So far I have tested raw, jpg, tif and png file formats.

If you would like to have my custom sky pack for free, grab them here.:

Free sky pack for Photoshop sky replacement

Once you have added the sky images, they can be arranged into sets, I show you in the video.

All the settings in Photoshop’s Sky Replacement

Now, it’s just a matter of getting the settings just right for the most convincing result. I’ll show you them all here.

The settings are broken into 3 areas.

The sky, the Foreground and the transition.


  • Shift Edge: move the edge up or down, so your horizon blends where it should.
  • Fade Edge: adjust the haze on the horizon.

blend the edge of the sky

Sky Adjustments:

  • Brightness and temperature to make the color and lightness match the original image.
  • Use scale and Flip to match the lighting direction and scale.

Foreground Adjustments:

  • Color Adjustment: match the color with the color of the sky
  • Lightness Adjustment: change brightness of foreground
  • Lighting Mode: Either lightens or darkens the transition

Sky replacement, every setting

Here you can see the image after I have made the adjustments.

As far as applying the effect, thats it in a nutshell. However you have complete control over everything after, I’ll show you in the next step.

changing the sky in a photo using Photoshop

What every setting in Photoshop Sky Adjustment Does

I have made a chart to show you exactly what every setting does in Sky replacement, watch the video to see this in action.

As you can see, Sky replacement creates a Layer group and uses Adjustment Layers and Masks to accomplish its result. This is so nice because, everything can be edited afterwards.

Here in this chart, I have mapped the settings in Sky Replacement to the results in the Layers panel, so you can see what each adjustment does. You won’t be able to see the layers and the Sky replacement at the same time while working in Photoshop, I broke it all out so you can see under the hood and understand exactly how it works. I hope this is useful for you, as it took me a bit of time to make this.

Ultimate Sky replacement chart, mapping all the settings from the Photoshop tutorial at photoshopCAFE

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial on Sky replacement. I have some other tutorials on this topic if you want to explore further.

Sky Replacement intro

Advanced Sky Replacement to make a reflection

Old school Sky replacement

Another old school Sky replacement tutorialΒ 




15 responses to “Sky Replacement in Photoshop, ultimate tutorial – free sky images included.”

  1. Thank you, Colin!!!!! always a great way of explaining and guiding us through the intricacy of photoshop.

  2. I was just working with sky replacement yesterday–reviewing a package of replacement skies and moons, etc. from Chris Spooner. He had a short video as well, but it wasn’t as thorough and detailed as yours. Your video was so clear–your hallmark–I learned more in the few minutes I took to watch your video than I did the whole day before. I applaud your clarity, your step-by-step methodology and your ability to logically present information. I’m still a beginner–even after years of using Photoshop occasionally. Remedial learning for me!!! Thank you for your continual push for the basics so anyone at any level can learn something from your work.

  3. Thank you so much. It is lovely the way you cover this subject. Providing video and written notes makes it accessible to far more people. Thank you for the pack of skys as well.

  4. Very good tutorial I appreciate all your tutos, thank you very much, all your tutos are very “clear” and easy to understand and used even for an amateur like me.

  5. this is great thanks for sharing this. i REALLY loved the live one on the drone πŸ˜€

  6. Hi Colin, Thanks for a very informative video and thanks also to Adobe who have introduced a fantastic feature. I use ‘skys’ a great deal and this adds another dimension to my work. PhotshopCAFE is fantastic website – Thanks again Colin.

  7. Thanks Colin, I couldn’t figure out to add my own skies without creating a library in Bridge first – now I know.

  8. Thank you so much for the great tutorial on sky replacement – it’s something I’ve always wanted to use but was never quite able to master. You make it so easy to understand. And thanks for all your awesome freebies as well!

  9. Thank you very much Colin for providing a free but great tutorial covering many essential elements. Step by step written instructions really help a lot to me, an old dog difficult to learn new tricks.πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

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