When it comes to taking photos outside, the sky background is a crucial part of the final image. A dull, dark sky covered with clouds can ruin a picture, while adding a few clouds to a clear blue sky can be an attractive focal point. Or maybe you want to create a golden sunset or add stars to the night sky.
Nowadays, it's super easy to edit the sky and ensure your photo is exactly how you'd like it. Learning how to add and remove clouds, brighten, relight, and tint the sky is a useful editing tool to have in your back pocket.
We've broken down everything you need to know about editing the sky in photos.
Adding and removing clouds
It doesn't matter if you live in the rainy U.K. or sunny California, clouds are a fact of life (admittedly, though, there are generally more clouds in the U.K.). Still, sometimes we all wish we could just erase the clouds from the sky. The bad news is, unlike Bruce Almighty, you can't do that in real life. The good news is, you can do it in your photos.
All you need is Facetune.
First up, here's how to remove clouds when you just want a brighter, bluer sky. With the photo you wish to edit open in the app, select the Patch option from the main menu bar. From here, you can either use the Patch tool to choose and replace clouds with other areas of the sky or, if you prefer, you can use the Vanish tool. The Vanish tool will automatically replace the selected cloud with the surrounding blue sky.
Now, it might seem odd, but sometimes, adding clouds can create an interesting focal point or it can add an intriguing atmosphere to the photo. You can use the Patch tool to add more clouds to an image that already has some clouds in it. Select the part of the sky where you'd like to add extra cloud coverage and then move the patch to replicate an existing cloud.
Of course, if you want to get creative, the Paint tools allow you to design and draw in your own clouds however you'd like. You can even get a perfect color match by using the Picker tool.
For hyper-realistic clouds, use the Glitter option in white or grey to create genuine, fluffy edges to clouds. The slider increases and decreases the precision and intensity of color, so it doesn't look fake.
Bonus tip: You can use the same method to add and remove stars. If stars are visible in part of your photo, use the Patch tool to re-create the stars elsewhere in the photo. You can also use the Paint tool to simply add a few stars here and there. Make sure you zoom in to get the most precise, high-quality stars.
Changing the sky color in photos
The color of the sky can make a massive difference to a photo. From bright, vivid blue to a dull gray to soft pinks at sunset, the overall color sets the tone and mood of an image, so changing the sky color can give a photo a whole new vibe.
There are two main ways you can edit the color of the sky in photos. The first is simply to enhance the current color by editing the vibrancy and intensity of the color. The second is to literally paint a new shade into the sky.
We've broken down both methods here.
Enhancing the existing color of your photo's sky
If you're generally happy with the color of the sky, but you just wish it had a bit more intensity, you can enhance it with minor changes.
You can adjust the brightness, warmth, and intensity of the color using your phone's editing feature or almost any editing app. These changes will apply to the entire photo — not just the sky — but sometimes this is enough to bring out additional color and light in the sky.
Using Facetune, you can also use the Glow feature in the Retouch menu to add extra color to the sky exclusively. With Glow selected, just swipe your finger over the sky to brighten it up a bit. You can do the same thing with the Vibrance tool in the Retouch menu to only enhance the sky without affecting the rest of the image.
Repainting the sky
Okay, so it's not precisely repainting the sky. You probably won't paint it bright red, but you can add other shades of blue, change blue to gray and back again, or add light pinks and oranges for a sunset atmosphere.
We usually just think the sky is blue, but in reality, it's lots of different shades of blue, so when you repaint the sky, you'll need to use several shades of blue to get a realistic look. You can mix different colors and create a natural blend, and the slider bar will let you choose the intensity of the colors and overlap colors.
Replace the sky completely in your photo
Sometimes, the sky just isn't what you want it to be. There are too many clouds or not enough clouds, or perhaps you want a rainbow. If you're going to make lots of changes to the sky, it might be easier to replace it entirely.
In Facetune, you can simply select and replace the entire sky with a different image of the sky in a few simple steps.
On the main menu bar, select the Backdrop option. From here, you can scroll along the bar to find some preloaded sky images. The app will automatically apply the new sky across the whole background so you can edit the area cover, Blend, Light, and Shadow in the Adjust tool.
Alternatively, if you have a photo in your camera roll of the perfect sky, you can use the Photo tool in the Backdrop menu to add the sky in another picture to this one. Again, you can use the tools in the Adjust feature to change the lighting and blend so the new sky looks natural.
Editing sunlight in photos
A crucial step when editing the sky is to ensure that the lighting of the photo matches the sky. It can be very weird to look at a picture with a bright blue sky, but the person's face looks a little gray. If you've edited the sky to look like a beautiful sunset, you need to make sure the lighting on your face is soft and golden to match.
There are two main ways you can edit the sunlight in your photo using Factune.
1) If you've made the sky brighter, you may need to increase the amount of light on your face. You can do this in the Relight feature. Here, you can add more light directly onto your face. The Blend and Softness tools can be adjusted to make the light more natural. You can also increase the Brightness and Vibrance options to create a natural-looking light effect.
2) Another great way to edit sunlight in a photo to match the sky is to add a filter. Adding a filter will apply the same light across the whole picture. This is especially useful if you want to imitate golden hour. If you've edited the sky to look like a sunset, head to the Filters menu in Facetune, and you'll find a range of filters called Golden Hour, which is designed specially to look like the soft glow of a sunset. The Intensify filter set will make everything more vibrant, which is ideal if you’ve edited a gray sky to be a lovely bright blue.
Other editing apps have similar features and tools that will have the same effect. However you decide to edit the lighting in the photo, make sure you do it after you've changed the sky, so you know what to match it to.
Blue skies forever
The sky is such an underused part of a photo that it can take a picture from average to epic. Of course, you can't control the weather or the sky, so learning how to add and remove clouds, change the natural lighting and brighten or mute the colors can be a super valuable editing skill to have.
From bright blue and dull gray to sunset pink and sunrise orange, don't let the sky be your downfall. Make the sky in your photos fit your aesthetic, not the other way around.