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How to Add an Object to the Sky in Photoshop

Drew is a Photoshop wizard and someone who has millions of ideas, but no paper or pencil to jot them down.


Adding Simple Objects to a Clear Sky

Have you ever looked at a photo online and noticed that something just shouldn't be in the picture? Or wonder how people put that object into a photo? Well, in this Photoshop article, I will show you how to add a simple object to a clear sky. The process is an easy one, it's all about whether it looks right or not. Remember, the eye is easily fooled!

Click for enlargement

Click for enlargement

Let's Begin!

I will be using the above image of the Death Star and add it to the sky in the photo at the top. You can save them both and use them to practice this method. Feel to use your own pictures as well.

Let's start with the Death Star. We can't just go and add it directly to the other photo. It would just look silly. The reason being is that there would be all of that black nothingness around it. We want to get rid of all that black surrounding it. Grab your Magic Wand Tool and set the Tolerance to Four. Also make sure the anti-alias box is checked. The tolerance option is in the tool's menu bar.

Above shows where you can find the tolerance setting for the magic wand tool

Above shows where you can find the tolerance setting for the magic wand tool

Selecting and Deleting

First, in the layer's palette, right click on the background layer and select Layer from Background. This will unlock the layer and it will be easier to work with.

Selection before deletion.

Selection before deletion.

With the Magic Wand tool selected, click on the black area. You'll notice that all the black pixels will have been selected. Go ahead and delete this selection. This can be done by simply hitting the delete key on your keyboard.

Selection after deletion.

Selection after deletion.

Adding to the Sky

With any selection tool that you prefer, select all of the Death Star. Now Copy and Paste using any method you wish. (Ctrl C and Ctrl V or Edit > Copy, then Edit > Paste) Paste the Death Star into the second image.


The Death Star Is Way Too Large

This happens a lot when transferring images from one photo to another. The size of the image you pasted in can either be too large or too small. Photoshop is great for editing the size of an image. It is also good to know that when you paste a new image into a document, it creates a new layer in your layer's palette. In the above image, a new layer was created and I renamed it. It is a good habit to rename your layers so you remember what is on them. Some projects can have over 20 layers and that's not even the maximum amount you can have!

You can resize an image with the Move Tool. Select the move tool and shrink it down using the handles (little boxes) around the image. Remember to hold SHIFT to constrain proportions!

Get the Death Star to fit nicely into the sky. Maybe rotate it a bit!


It's Added, Now What?

You're not done. Just look at the photo. The Death Star is sticking out and doesn't even look like it belongs there! First, let's paint. Painting with the brush tool can help an object look more natural in a photo.

Grab your Brush Tool and set the mode to Color. To select the same color as the sky, hold ALT and then click on the sky. Anywhere you want. This will select the color of the sky.

Now, for this next step, you're going to want to select a layer's Thumbnail. Thumbnails are to the left of the layer name, and to the right of the eyeball. The thumbnail is the little image that is displayed for the layer. Right Click the Death Star's thumbnail and pick Select Pixels. This will select only the visible pixels on that layer.

Go ahead and paint that Death Star by holding the mouse and dragging over it a few times. You will begin to notice a change in the color from its original image to a pale blue.



Opacity is controls how well an object can appear in an image. 100% will the picture show up all the way. 0% will have it be invisible. There are 2 kinds of settings here. There's the Fill Opacity which deals more with the midtones, shadows, and highlights of an image. Then there is the Master Opacity, which governs everything else in the image.

Messing with the opacity is fun and can come in handy if you don't want something to appear in a photo all the way. For this, set the master opacity to around 77% and the fill opacity to 55%.


Final Step: Dodge Tool

Great! You've gotten the opacity down. But the Death Star is still a little too dark. Grab your Dodge Tool and set the Range (located in the tool menu bar) to shadows. Then all you have to do is swipe the dodge tool over the Death Star a couple times!

Then, for one last final touch up, switch the range to Midtones and give the Death Star one more swipe. Give a little touch up on the left edge of it. If the image still doesn't seem to look right, change the opacities once more.

Let's see the final image!


Followed Along?

If you followed along with the tutorial, you should have come out with a picture that is similar to the one above. If yours looks a little off, don't worry! It takes some time and practice to get the hang of it. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave a comment below. If you want me to write up another tutorial on something you're curious about doing, comment below as well!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Drew Overholt


David on January 05, 2018:

This was great, thanks! Already used it on my own photo with good results.


WillSteinmetz on November 12, 2011:

Wow. Very detailed and informative hub.THanks for sharing about photoshop. Very useful.

Emma from Houston TX on March 19, 2011:

Educative and informative hub which is well shared.

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