August 10, 2012

Architectural Rendering: Adding a Sky in Photoshop

Sky from
There are many ways to add a sky in Photoshop to your renderings. You can add a solid color, a color with a gradient, a picture, multiple pictures, or all of the above. This post goes through the different ways to add a sky in Photoshop.

Solid Color

The simplest way is to create a Photoshop layer of a light shade of blue, yellow, or even orange, depending on your intent, behind your drawing. This layer can either be solid or you can color the layer with the paint brush using a large brush diameter with a low hardness so it appears as a gradient. In order to get the sky color behind your drawing, either mask the sky color's layer or select the area where the sky will be, create a new layer and add your color.

I opt to color over the drawing and mask the color, this way if you move something in your rendering, you can redo the masking of the sky's color layer rather than completely redo the sky's layer itself. You can also mask the other parts of your rendering so they are transparent and put the sky color in the background. Adjust the sky's layer opacity to help you get the sky's intensity to your liking.

Color Gradient

Color gradients can be a bit tricky in Photoshop. Essentially you create a layer, pick the color and adjust the the gradient amount along with the gradient angle. The video below outlines how to create a layer gradient. Remember that you can also use the layer's opacity to help adjust the color's intensity.

Combination Sky

The following video by outlines ways to render a dusk sky in Photoshop by using a color gradient, overlaid with pictures, using opacity and layer masks to creating a photo-realistic render. A great video outlining all aspects of creating a sky in Photoshop. So which ever method you chose to create your sky, this video will guide you through it.


  1. Create gradient layer or place background picture
  2. Mask gradient layer or picture in background
  3. Import picture, adjust size, opacity, and mask
  4. Add additional pictures if desired or duplicate previous layer, re-size and possibly mirror

More from the Architecture Student Blog

Using Scale People
Learn to Create and Architectural Section in Photoshop
Section Rendering: Sketchup and Photoshop

Additional Information

If you are looking to buy a book on computer rendering, Bradley Cantrell and Wes Michaels' book, Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture: Contemporary Techniques and Tools for Digital Representation in Site Design, even though it is for landscaping outlines the requirements and techniques for Photoshop rendering. I usually buy books from an amazon seller for cheaper. Always be sure check seller reviews.

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