Mirroring skies in Photoshop

Occasionally I have a landscape that begs for an unusual sky, and although I have a great collection, I don’t always find exactly what I want. The effect created by mirroring skies can transform an image into something beyond the ordinary. Monster of the Id is one of those creations that takes on a slightly frightful and sinister appearance. The thought of seeing anything like this in nature would give me pause to say the least.

The process to create this image involves two elements, the sky and the foreground. It’s a process that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. Of course finding the images you want to play with can be rather more time consuming than the actual manipulation.

My process for mirroring the sky is to first create a blank canvas large enough to accommodate the image. For instance, my canvas size for this image was 15” wide and I cropped the height at 12.5”. I started with a 15×15. First size your sky to approximately 8” wide and drag that section into your canvas. Now return to the sky image and do a horizontal flip and drag that image into your canvas. Align the two halves. Note that you may want to overlap the images to change the shape of the mirror. If you overlap you will need to find the exact center and erase the forward image to that point. Also, try switching the right and left to see the effect.

Once you are satisfied with your sky, drag in your landscape image. I typically select the sky with a magic wand, then choose inverse. This does a fairly decent job, but I always clean the edge of the landscape with the eraser tool set at about 15 pixels and 80% hardness, which is the most time consuming part of the process. To check for unwanted elements, go to blending modes and stroke the image. If there are any pixels left from the erased sky, they will show up as red dots (red is the default and can be changed to any color). Erase any unwanted elements.

I add a frame and signature with copyright and I’m done.


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