Quickshot has a really cool tool that lets you change the color of the sky. This tool has a lot of different options you can change and can be intimidating if it’s your first time using it. This tutorial will go through the process of changing the sky multiple times, in multiple colors, with different levels of difficulty.
If you want to learn how to change the color of the sky with Quickshot, read on! Let’s jump right in!
Changing a blue sky in Quickshot
Firstly, let’s start with a nice easy blue sky replacement. This is a perfect way to learn how to use this tool. Additionally, this process is something you might find yourself using often.
Now, this is the image that I chose to start with:
Thankfully, this image is rather plain, so you can see the overall effect that this will have. If your image, however, is more complicated in nature, don’t worry. As stated above, we will work on more complex images later on in the tutorial.
So, the first step is to load your image into Quickshot and open it in the editor. On your screen, it should look like this:
Choosing your sky options for a blue sky
It is, finally, time to choose your first sky! Head into the Sky menu on the bottom row. In this menu, you will be able to choose from a lot of different cool sky options. These are the blue sky options that I was looking at:
Importantly, don’t just look at the sky as a static image. In Quickshot, you can manipulate the actual nature of the skies, so that the same sky background can be different in every image you create. Look at each sky as a texture or idea, and then shape it to best fit the image you want that texture or idea in.
After browsing through the sky options, I settled on using this blue sky for this image:
Getting the right sky for the image
At this point, I want to make sure that the sky fits the image. While you can take the time to shift or move the sky, I find that a great tool to use here is the Random sky option. To access this, start by clicking the three dots on the sky you have selected. Next, just tap the random button in that menu. Finally, just keep on tapping that button until you end on a sky you really like!
Remember, you can always move the sky over and adjust it. It is, however, important that the sky that you end up finding fits the image after you do adjust it. It doesn’t have to land perfectly where you want it to!
Here is an example of a random sky I kind of liked:
If you really like a sky, and then accidentally click random again, you can always use the back and forth arrows to navigate back to the other sky. Thankfully, since I really like to play around with stuff, the undo arrow seems to have quite a bit of memory.
After playing around with skies for a while, this is the final sky that I ended up choosing:
Making your sky fit your landscape
Finally, we have changed the sky! But, wait. There are still some weird things going on.
Maybe the clouds are coming over the horizon, or maybe the landscape and sky don’t quite line up. Quickshot tries its best to make everything perfect for you, and in this image, it basically did. Further on in the tutorial, we will cover how to fix really hard edges and the like, but for now, pay attention to the tree.
The first fix that we can work on is using the feather tool. For almost all cases you will encounter, the use of the feather tool will make it easy to fix any issues you have. You can access the feather tool in the same way you accessed the random option above, by simply pressing the three dots on the sky you have chosen in the sky menu.
Applying a feather will make your selection bleed more or less aggressively over the predetermined sky. By increasing the feather, we can get a more aggressive amount of the original sky, without interfering with objects we don’t want to cut out of the final image. This is how I increased my feathering to go around the tree:
Now that I have the sky and tree behaving, it is time to make my horizon work better, too. I don’t like it when the horizon doesn’t seem to exist, because it makes images look less natural. In some cases, where you want the editing to be less hidden, that is fine. In this case, however, I’m going to be editing the horizon.
To do this, I simply use the Horizon option, right next to the Feather option we just changed. Now, this is what my horizon looks like:
You can see how it allows the horizon to lighten up, just like it does in real life. This also makes our tree stand out more, and it is generally good to edit to make main subjects pop. I really like how this tool lets you put emphasis on the things on the horizon.
Getting the sky just right
Now that I have made sure the sky works well with the image, I want to edit the sky a little bit. As I mentioned above, you can tweak the sky and its location, even after selecting a random sky. To do this, simply use the Shift option available.
This is how I moved my sky to better align with the composition:
A lot of the time, photographers won’t really think of how they can use the sky to their maximum benefit. Using the sky here to add to the composition without including new subjects works really well. Think of how minor or major changes to your skies will help alter your compositions in a beneficial manner!
Making the lighting of the sky match the scene
Now, different skies give off different lights. The bluer the sky, the bluer the light present will be. That is true with the sunset, dawn, and any sorts of lighting conditions. Because of that, we want to make sure that the ambient lighting present from the sky is matched on the landscape or scene we are editing.
This is made really easy, as there is an ambient slider, right next to all the other options that you have worked on so far! I recommend using smaller adjustments of this slider, as you still want to retain a lot of the original color of your landscapes. Also, pay attention to your colors, and remember that opposite colors don’t reflect one another. In scenes where you are making the sky contrast heavily in color with the foreground, don’t use too much of this ambient effect.
This is what my image now looks like after a little more of the ambient sky color is pushed onto the rest of the image:
The final blue sky replacement!
That was a pretty easy process, and I think the results are great, too! This is my final image:
And, more importantly, this is the before and after of the edit:
The blue sky replacement is generally pretty easy, and you won’t have to deal with many issues while working on it. On the other hand, other sky replacements are trickier and require a bit more tinkering on your behalf. Read on to see how we can add in a red sky, and even, how we can implement some northern lights into some photos!
Changing a red or sunset sky in Quickshot
Let’s add a red sky into an image. Adding a red sky into an image is a bit harder, as you generally have to pay a lot more attention to several things. These include the colors and how they interact, the meeting of the sky and the landscape, and the lighting on the scene.
Generally, you want to choose early on if you are going to super realistic or a more creative image. With a colored sky, you will almost always be more successful if you choose to go with a more creative or just awe-inspiring image. This is because a truly red or vibrant sky isn’t commonplace, and trying to pass it off as such can trap you.
This is the image that I chose to work on:
As always, get the image open in Quickshot, like so:
Choosing the sky
Quickshot has an amazing selection of different skies for you to pick from. This is especially true, however, when it comes down to the different creative and vibrant skies. There are so many options that choosing a red or sunset sky is pretty easy, and it means you have hundreds of options for all of your images.
After going through a variety of different options, I chose to keep the sky more blue than heavily red and ended on a purple sky. This, along with the amazing scene in the original image, makes for a really cool effect. Look at the image, right after only having chosen the sky I wanted to use:
To me, that just looks amazing. Well, almost, anyway. There are quite a few problems here that we are going to need to address. These problems are specific to how the sky is meeting the mountains. There is quite a bad halo effect around the mountains that is making the image look more like a collage than anything else, sadly.
So, let’s fix that!
Feathering and Masking the sky
There are two steps we can take here to make the sky a better match with the landscape: feathering and masking. Feathering, the process we covered earlier, will do almost all of the work for us. On the other hand, masking will be more work on our part but will yield cleaner results, if done properly.
So, let’s feather and then mask, and see where that gets us.
Feathering the sky
To feather the sky, click on those three dots on the sky selected first. Then, simply select the Feather option, and add it in til it works with the image. If you over or under-do this, you can always come back after having masked to make it work better. I recommend learning to go back between steps, and not always following the same workflow.
This is what the image looked like after the feathering tool was used:
Using the maximum (100) feather effect isn’t always advised, but I used it here because I knew I would also be masking some parts of the image. I think going to maximum feather before masking, and then dialing it down slowly between editing the mask, is a good process. This makes it a lot easier to slowly get the perfect mask, rather than trusting that you do it right on the first try.
Masking the sky
Masking is not something we had to do in the blue sky replacement, mainly because that image was so easy to work with. However, masking is definitely something you should pick up as soon as you start using Quickshot for more advanced edits. You don’t want to depend on Quickshot to get everything pixel-perfect for you. On the other hand, you want to know how to work through the rare problems you may have.
To open the mask, simply click on the brush and eraser tool on the right-hand side of the image. Then, using the brush and eraser, you can add or remove parts of the mask. These will be highlighted in red only when you have the masking brush and eraser tool open. You can use this red highlighted area to make sure you are getting the mask as perfect as possible.
When you are masking, you might realize that it is pretty clunky and hard to get it perfect with the image so zoomed out. Using two fingers, you can move and zoom the image. This lets you get in closer to the details. The more you zoom in, the finer the point of your eraser and brush. I suggest outlining the areas you want to mask with these. Then, zoom out a bit and use the larger tools to fill in the areas you need masked.
For this image, this is what my mask looked like:
Making a colorful sky look and feel right
This is probably the hardest part to think about, but the easiest to execute once you have. Now, you have a colorful sky that is properly masked on an image, and you just want to make it look as clean as you can. How do you go about doing that?
Like with the blue sky, you want to make sure that the color of the light is really getting into the image. The ambient tool here is very powerful, as it allows us to really make the image feel more cohesive between the two parts. Before masking and feathering, the image looked like a collage. Now it looks like a drawing, where the sky was painted and the rest was done with pencils. Your goal is to make it look like it is cohesive and singular in medium and element.
Working on Ambient
Firstly, let’s work on the ambient. How much is too much, and how much is too little? The best way to figure this out is to move the dial back and forth until you feel as though it has settled correctly. This is what I settled upon:
Working on placement and texture
The last two changes I am going to be making are to the shift and details of the sky. These two changes are made to make the sky feel as though it belongs, in both the place and composition of the photograph. When working on these, change your details last. Lowering details, as I do in this image, makes everything softer, and makes shapes less sharp. By placing the sky in the composition when it is sharper, I can better align its geometry to work in the composition. This will still be true after I have made it softer, but, it won’t be as easy for me to coordinate.
Finally, here is the image with these last two edits made:
Now, hopefully, you followed along and have created your own inspiring red, colorful, sunset, twilight, or any other sky. Take your time and play around with these powerful colors, and what they mean to you or your images. Work on using the sky as a tool for composition after an image has been taken. Don’t worry about making mistakes, Quickshot makes it easy to restart, so learn as much as you can about using the software.
The final Red sky replacement!
That brings us the final red sky replacement, which looks like this:
I think this one came out really well. The biggest problem is something I mentioned earlier on: going realistic or creative. This image looks a lot like the sun is behind the mountains because the sky is lighter and brighter and has more color there. However, the mountains are being lit from the right of the image. If I had chosen a sky that better fit this, it might look more realistic, but it wouldn’t have had the same energy. Take your time selecting the sky, and think of these things when you do!
Again, let’s look at the before and after! I really love the original image here, and editing it with this really cool sky was a lot of fun. Here is the before and after:
Now, we’re going to move into the really fun stuff. It is a bit harder, but you’ll be using the basis of what you learned in these first two sky replacements. Instead of going with a typical landscape, however, I decided to work on a portrait and keep the image more creative.
Replacing a sky with the Northern Lights
Finally, we get to replace the sky with some Northern Lights. As mentioned above, however, we are also going to be working on a portrait, rather than a landscape here. The reason for this is that I want to make sure you think about use cases outside of the norm when using all of the Quickshot tools. The application doesn’t focus on a single type of image, and while there are obvious uses for every tool, explore the ones that aren’t so obvious.
All that being said, this is the image that we are going to be working on in this portion of the tutorial:
This image was just really cool to me, and I wanted to try something different with the different elements of the sky replacement tool in Quickshot. Rather than sticking to the basic sky replacement, I wanted to use different parts of the mask and ambient tools to have a cool effect on the image with a northern lights sky.
Starting off, open your image, like this:
Northern lights sky replacement and masking
Firstly, let’s build a cool mask for this image. Although the auto mask did its job, I didn’t want the foliage in the original image in my edit. So, I used the mask to encapsulate that foliage, as well. This is what my mask looked like:
Now, you might notice that I also have some masking going on in the bottom left and right parts of the image. This is because, when working on something more creative like this, you don’t need the sky to stick just above the horizon. I really wanted to give this image an almost Matrix-like feeling, so I added in some masking for extra effect.
Importantly, when working on edits like this, make sure the opacity is at 100. You don’t want to cut out entire trees, like I did, and have them show through. Do that like this:
Something else I did here was that I maxed out the Horizon effect. The reason that I am doing this is that I want there to be some sort of glow lower in the image, especially in those masked areas I have. I find that blurred out bright part of the sky in the bottom left of the image has a really cool effect. While I could have done more feathered masking of my fake horizon line, I found that I preferred the clean lines that made this figure seem to be cut out of the space behind them. In this case, I’m obviously not going for realism, rather, I’m going for creative effect.
Northern Lights and Ambiance
While I underlined how crucial the ambiance effect was with previous images, that is especially true for the Northern Lights. Green colored light is not readily available in most images you take, so we need to use the Ambient tool in the sky adjustments to make it really have the right effect. This is how I used the Ambient tool, this last time:
Now, we have the right feel for the image. Time to get the right sky for the image…
Getting the “right” northern lights
Often, I find myself choosing a sky rather early on and then not going random until towards the end of the edit. I find that this lets me work out a lot of the kinks in my sky and masking before focusing too much on the sky itself.
In this case, however, I think it would have been better to perfect the sky and then work on getting all the other stuff perfect. Either way, I did it the way that I usually do, and I think that it came out OK.
The strategy here is, exactly, the same one I used in the blue sky replacement. I just jammed the random button until I found a sky I really liked. Rather than following the typical sky of northern lights, however, I am using a portrait. This means, then, that I can really just find a big line of light that I like the shape, brightness, and color of.
This is the light I settled on, for the final image:
I found that this worked really well for several reasons. Firstly, the light in the original image was focused on the right and from above. The wisp coming up from the right, along with the few stars dotted along the side of the image, makes the light look relatively realistic, at least in both direction and intensity.
Final Northern Lights sky replacement
So, we made it! Let’s take a look at the final image:
I think this looks pretty cool. The edgy character, his extended hand in focus, and the ambient lighting all look great. The character really fits the scene, and the lighting works out rather well. Let’s take a look at the original and this image, side by side:
And, there we go. I hope that you either followed along or will go back through and try these different techniques on your own. Thanks for reading!