How can I give my sky greater depth?

ImagineFX - - Your Questions Answered... - Leyla Dixon, Eng­land

Jonathan replies

It’s easy for the sky in an im­age to take on a twodi­men­sional qual­ity, where it ap­pears to be one large, flat vol­ume. While this may be suit­able for some images, some­times it’s ad­van­ta­geous to be able to ac­cen­tu­ate the per­spec­tive and il­lu­sion of depth in your im­age, through the sky as well as the ground.

A use­ful way to help push your sky fur­ther in Pho­to­shop is to lever­age lay­ers and use the Trans­form tool. By con­struct­ing your file in such a way that the sky is in a sep­a­rate layer, you can ap­ply ei­ther Warp or Per­spec­tive to your sky from the Trans­form tool menu. By tweak­ing clouds, or any other vol­ume you have in the sky, you can es­tab­lish a base per­spec­tive you can then paint into.

It’s worth keep­ing in mind two other rules of thumb: at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive ap­plies to clouds as well as the ground. Clouds be­come more blue the fur­ther they are from the viewer, so hav­ing more than one colour in the base gra­di­ent you use for your sky is ad­van­ta­geous. Take a look at a blue sky: there’s more than one colour and tone at play.

Jan­uary 2015

Re­duc­ing the de­tail in your sky to­wards the hori­zon line re­flects how our eyes in­ter­pret de­tail at a dis­tance and also helps your im­age be less busy.

Lay­er­ing one body of cloud on top of another is a great way to sug­gest vol­ume in an ex­pan­sive out­doors scene.

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