As Judy Collins says in her song “Both Sides Now,” “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. From up and down and still somehow it’s cloud’s illusions I recall I really don’t know clouds at all …”

Now looking at clouds from all sides, up, down, blended and over easy. Studying clouds and techniques enhance your images. I’m going to share a number of different ways to add and/or use, clouds in your photos.

Here’s my first.

Make cloud brushes using Adobe Photoshop

Check your photos for cool cloud images. If you don’t already have a number of cloud photos you may want to keep your camera handy as there are lots of ways to use them. A wonderfully useful and repeatable way to use clouds is to create a brush in Photoshop.

Open a cloud file. Then make a loose selection around the preferred cloud formation using the Marquee tool.

Original cloud file. I’ll just be making one brush from this but you could make multiples.


First, convert the image to monochrome. You can quickly desaturate using the Cmd-Shift-U (Mac) or Crtl-Shift-U (Windows).

I prefer to add a BW Adjustment Layer. This helps isolate the blue from the sky and creates more contrast. Areas you don’t want as part of the brush should be completely black.

Black and white adjustment layer results

Keeping that in mind I also recommend adding a Curves Adjustment adding a little extra contrast.

Additional Curves adjustment layer

Invert the image by using Cmd-I (Mac) or Ctrl-I (PC). Under the Edit menu select Define Brush Preset. Rename the file to be descriptive of the brush. I also note pixel size of the long edge.

Invert layer and check that all edges are pure white before defining brush.

Finished image

Landscape with added clouds. Here I only used the one brush and changed the size. Each cloud was brushed onto its own layer for repositioning and transformation.

Next up I’ll talk about using Photoshop Blend Modes to add clouds. If you want to perfect your clouds and skies, check out this video from Matt Kloskowski.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob