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Photo blending - How to make a sinister looking sky

Photoshop Tutorial by Björgvin Guðmundsson


In this practice I’m going to show you a few steps on how to create a sinister looking sky, using 2 photographs and Photoshop’s layer techniques and filters.
This kind of effect is extremely useful when you are in a need of a good background scene for your artwork, and to create a dark and surrealistic atmosphere.

Step 1. Preparing the stock photos.

For this tutorial I have picked two images from, one sky image and one texture image.

Download image Download image

Feel free to use the same images, or browse our gallery for similar images if you prefer.
- Stockvault texture gallery
- Stockvault sky & clouds gallery

You do not have to resize the images, but for this tutorial I have resized both images down to 1200x800 pixels, and will work with them zoomed down to 50% of their actual size in Photoshop.

Step 2. Blending the images

Select the cloud image and unlock the layer by double clicking the layer named “background”.

Now select the move tool and “drag ‘n drop” the texture image into the cloud image.
Drag the image around until it fits the canvas. Set the layer mode to “screen” and the layer opacity to 11%.

Make a duplicate of the texture layer (layer 2) and apply the sharpen filter once.

Set the layer style to “Multiply” and the layer opacity to 50%.

Tip: How To duplicate a layer
Drag the layer you want to duplicate into the “new layer” icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Now go back and select the cloud layer and duplicate it. Move the layer to the top of the layer palette above the texture layers.

Apply the “Gaussian blur” filter with the value of 4.

Set the layer style to “screen” and the opacity to 50%.

Your image should be looking somewhat like the one below.

Step 3. Adjusting the color

Create a new adjustment layer and select “Hue/Saturation”.

Set the following, or similar setting as the image below.

Create a new empty layer and stamp all the visible layers into the new one by pressing the “shift – Ctrl-Alt and E” keys.

Tip: Stamp Visible - Merging all visible layers into one layer.
Create a new empty layer, and place it at the top of the layers palette.
Hold down the “Shift”, “Ctrl” and “Alt” keys, and then press the “E” key.

Apply the Gaussian Blur filter with a value of 2, and set the layer mode to “screen” and the opacity to 39%.

Step 4. Finishing up

Create a new adjustment layer and select “Color Balance” from the menu.

Play around with the colors, or use the same settings as the image below.

Select the brush tool and a 100px soft brush.

Go to Brush presets and unselect the “shape dynamics” box to get an even flow while brushing.

Make sure you have black as the foreground color.

Now select the layer mask on the Color Balance adjustment layer and start brushing some of the color away. How much you brush away is up to you, but you can see the area I brushed away in the image below.

Note: I highlighted the area with red, just so you could see the strokes.

Here is the final image:


You can play around with the settings in this tutorial. Try different textures, and even add multiple ones on top of the clouds. Experimenting is the key!