was successfully added to your cart.



Sky Embellishment Photo Technique

By Thursday, February 13, 2020 (MST) One Comment

Today, Joan is sharing how to enhance the sky in your photos.

This tutorial is for Adobe Photoshop CC users only due to use of the NEW Circular Rainbow Gradient Preset.

Note. In earlier versions of Photoshop, a ‘rainbow gradient’ is located in the Gradient Editor of the Options Bar when the Gradient Tool is selected from the Tools Panel.

Sky Embellishment Photo Technique


In this tutorial you will learn how to:

  • Enhance photos of the sky to add visual interest to your image
  • Embellish with ArtsyTransfers and other DigitalART products from Anna Aspnes Designs.

1.  Enhance Sky with Moon

Add a moon element.

Use a FotoGlow to symbolize the moon.

  • Open your photo with the night sky and waterscape.
  • Duplicate the photo to create a ‘copy’ and close the original.
  • Add a FotoGlow to your photo so that it looks like the moon.
  • Apply a Hard Light Blending Mode to brighten the effect as preferred.

Create a Reflection

Mirror the reflection of the moon in the water using the Dodge Tool.

  • Select the Dodge Tool from the Tools Panel.
  • Ensure the Range is set to Midtones.
  • Set the Exposure to approx 15%.
  • Paint over the water area with the Dodge Tool to yield a light reflection in the water.

2. Enhance Photo with Rainbow

Locate Circular Rainbow Preset

Establish a photo foundation and select the Circular Rainbow preset from the Gradient options.

  • Open your photo with the early morning sky and waterscape.
  • Create a New Layer by clicking on the ‘New Layer’ icon in the Layers Panel.
  • Select the Gradient Tool from the Tools Panel and click on the Radial Gradient Option in the Options Bar at the top of your screen.
  • Choose the Circular Rainbow gradient preset located from the Presets options second icon from the left in the Options Bar.
  • Look for the rectangle gradient shaded’ icon between ‘home’ icon and ‘Gradient Editor‘ bar.
  • Select on the downward facing arrow to the right of the ‘preset’ icon (small rectangle with gradient) to view your options.
Tip. Click on the small box to the left of the ‘Current Tool Only‘ option at the bottom of the panel to to check that option and narrow your choices to easily find the Circular Rainbow gradient option.
Note. You may need to reset your preset options to default settings by clicking on the ‘wheel’ icon in the top right corner of the panel and select ‘Reset Tool Presets’ from the menu.

Create Circular Rainbow Gradient

Use the Circular Rainbow Tool with the Click-Drag-Release-Technique.

  • Select the New Layer in the Layers Panel.
  • Click on the New Layer, holding down the left mouse-button on the bottom edge of the photo layer.
  • Drag the mouse upward a couple of inches and then release the left mouse button to create a ‘half radial rainbow gradient’.
  • Use the Move Tool to move the ‘radial rainbow gradient’ so the edges are just over the line of the horizon and the rest of the rainbow is in the sky.

Note.  The further you ‘drag’ the gradient, the larger your rainbow will be.

Mask Circular Rainbow Gradient

Use a Layer Mask and Photoshop Brushes and to alter the shape of the gradient to mirror that of a rainbow.

  • Select the ‘radial rainbow gradient’ layer in the Layers Panel.
  • Apply a Layer Mask to the ‘circular rainbow gradient’ layer by clicking on the ‘Add Layer Mask’ icon in the Layers Panel.
  • Set the Fore- and Background Colors to BLACK and WHITE respectively in the Tools Panel.
  • Select the Paint Brush Tool from the Tools Panel with a a ‘Soft Round Default Photoshop’ brush.
  • Resize the brush to about 200 pixels or as preferred.
  • Paint on the Layer Mask over the part of the rainbow that is on the land area of your photo to conceal that part of the gradient.

Note. The larger the brush size, the softer the edges it will yield.

Tip. Reduce Opacity to 50% and apply a Blend Mode such as Color Dodge for best results.

Modify Rainbow Element

Create a rainbow reflection using simple Photoshop techniques.

  • Duplicate the rainbow layer via CMD/CTRL + J
  • Rotate the layer 180 degrees via the Edit> Transform> Rotate 180 Degrees.
  • Reposition  the layer using the Move Tool into the water area of the photo.
  • Go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur, set the Radius to about 4 and click OK.
  • Reduce the Opacity of the layer to 17% in the Layers Panel.
  • Revisit the Layer Mask and Photoshop Brushes technique (above) to perfect your rainbow reflection.

Note. You can reduce the Opacity of the Photoshop Brush to approx. 40% as you mask your elements.

Tip. Create a ‘incomplete’ rainbow element by I removing one side of the ‘rainbow gradient’ more than the other – Be more aggressive with the end nearest the land and less so further up the element to make the effect more realistic. Also Make sure your reflection matches your rainbow.


Further enhance the sky in your photos by embellishing with photo artistry techniques.

  • Add in a moon or a rainbow to add visual interest to your photos and enhance your stories.
  • Apply Artistic Filters to elevate the artistry and grow your Photoshop skills.
  • Explore different ways to manipulate your photos and images.
  • Use FotoGlows from the Anna Aspnes Designs product range to uplevel you layout design.


And if you liked this Sky Embellishment Photo Technique, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below.

Download 100s FREE
$160 VALUE

When you join the aA community, you’ll receive regular emails providing inspiration, special offers and product updates.

Isabella Ramey

Author Isabella Ramey

More posts by Isabella Ramey

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply

anna aspnes newsletter
Don’t miss all the freebies
Get your FREE
DigitalART MegaPack + Class