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Paint cumulus clouds and create custom skies in your images

Added on Wednesday 22nd of July 2009 05:29 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



Puffy white clouds create a peaceful dreaminess when you gaze upon them. While you can’t control the cloud coverage in real life, you can in Photoshop. We’ll show you how to create a fantastic brush preset so you can paint your own cumulus creations.


When was the last time you looked up in the sky and saw ice cream cones and dinosaurs in the clouds? Chances are, for most of you, it’s been a long time. Working in Photoshop all day doesn’t leave you much time to dream about knights and castles, but it does give you an opportunity to create your own custom clouds. Follow along and you’ll soon be adding fantastic, floating, cotton-like clouds to all of your landscapes!


Set up the canvas

Before you set the brush presets, you should create a new canvas that you’ll use to paint your clouds on. We’ll show you how to make the gradient sky shown in Figure A.



To set up the canvas:

1.       Create a new 5-inch x 4-inch 300 ppi RGB document. The background color isn’t important; we’ll change that next.

2.      On the Tools panel, set the foreground color to R:21, G:45, B:150, and set the background color to R:11, G:16, B:31.

3.      Choose the Gradient tool from the Tools panel.

4.      Select the Foreground To Background gradient preset from the Preset Picker on the tool Options bar.

5.      Click at the top of the canvas, press [shift], drag down to the bottom of the canvas, and release the mouse.


Create the brush preset

There are a number of ways to create clouds in Photoshop, but when you use the Brush tool to paint them you’ll have more control. We’ll go over specific settings to make a custom brush that will enable you to paint random, fluffy clouds.


To create a custom cloud brush:

1.       Select the Brush tool from the Tools panel.

2.      Choose Window > Brushes to display the Brushes panel.

3.      Select the Brush Preset tab and choose the Soft Round 300 Pixel brush preset from the preview window, as shown in Figure B.



4.      Select the Shape Dynamics tab, change the Size Jitter to 100%, and also change Minimum Diameter, Angle Jitter, Roundness Jitter, and Minimum Roundness to 25%, as shown in Figure C. Note: We opted to select Pen Pressure from the Size Jitter Control pop-up menu but you don’t have to if you don’t have a stylus.



5.      Choose the Scattering tab and then select the Both Axes check box. Set the Scatter slider to 120%, the Count slider to 8, and the Count Jitter slider to 100%, as shown in Figure D.



6.      Select the Texture tab, choose the Clouds preset from the preset pop-up menu, and set the Scale slider to 300%. Choose Color Burn from the Mode pop-up menu, and set the Depth slider to 100%, as shown in Figure E. Note: The Clouds texture is located in the Texture Fill presets.



7.      Choose the Other Dynamics tab. Set the Opacity Jitter slider to 50% and the Flow Jitter slider to 20%, as shown in  


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