Extend The Sky With Photoshop Elements

Why would you want to extend the sky in a photograph you ask. I can think of a couple reasons off the top of my head.

One reason is if you have a shot that has a minimal amount of sky at the top of the photo and you want to have it framed. The frame might cover every bit of the sky, in effect giving you a poor crop of your photo.

Another reason is that if there is hardly any sky captured in the photo and it doesn't look balanced. That's how I felt about the shot I'm using for this tutorial. Let's go through these steps to extend the sky in the photo below.

Open an image in Photoshop Elements that you want to extend the sky in.


Go up to the Menu bar and choose Image>Resize>Canvas Size…. Or use the keyboard shortcut: Alt+Control+C (Mac:Option+Command+C). The Canvas Dialog box will open. We will make two choices inside this dialog box.

I want to add about a half-an-inch of sky to my photo. The current height is almost 5" so I'm just going to round up to 5.5". To do this double-click inside the Height field to select it and enter 5.5.

To get the extra space added to the top of the picture, click on the bottom arrow of the Anchor diagram. This has always seemed counter-intuitive to me but that's the way it works.

I also want to point out that the Canvas extension color field at the bottom of the dialog window defaults to Background. This refers to whatever the Background color (located at the bottom of the toolbox) is set to. It also shows a little color swatch next to the field.

For the image below I set my background to yellow so that you could see the extra canvas. If I would have left it white you wouldn't be able to see how much was added because it would have been white on white.


Select as much sky as you can with the Rectangular Marquee tool. Be careful not to select any part of the photo that isn't sky, and make sure it's the full width of the photo.

Copy the selected area onto a new Layer by going up to the Menu bar and choosing Layer>New>Layer via Copy. Or better yet use the keyboard shortcut: Control+J (Mac:Command+J).

Now you have a duplicate of the sky on a new Layer. Make sure you have the new Layer active by clicking on it.

Click on the Move tool from the Toolbox. You will see a transformation box around your sky. Now use the up arrow key to move the sky up until you see space between the two layers. Switch to the down arrow and nudge it down until the two layers just touch each other.


Flip and extend the sky. Now the sky is twice as high. But there's probably variation in tone and the new Layer doesn't blend into the Background very well as shown below.

To get the top Layer to blend into the Background Layer better we need to flip the top Layer so that its top touches the Backgrounds top.

To do this make sure you're working on the top Layer. Go up to the Menu bar and choose Image>Rotate>Flip Layer Vertical. Now it should look much better.

Now to extend the sky to the top go up to the Menu bar and choose Image>Transform>Free Transform. Or use the keyboard shortcut: Control+T (Mac:Command+T).

A transform box will appear around your Layer. Place your cursor over the top center handle until it changes into an up-and-down arrow. Pull the handle all the way to the top of the image to fill the blank area with sky. Click on the green check mark to accept the transformation.


Clean-up if necessary. After I pulled up the handle to extend the sky, I could see a faint dark blue line where Layer 1 met the Background Layer.

Let's clean that up. Press Control+Alt+Shift+E (Mac: Command+Option+Shift+E) to merge all of the visible layers onto a new layer. If you want to know more about this merge technique see Stamp Visible.

Choose the Spot Healing brush from the Toolbox. Up in the Options bar, select a soft brush. Use the bracket keys ([,]) to adjust the size of the brush until it is slightly larger than the offending line.

Draw some short lines over the offending line with the Spot Healing brush to blend it in until it looks natural. You might have to lower the Opacity of your brush in the Options bar.

If you go too far and want to return to a former state use the Undo History palette.

Here's the final result:

Here's the before and after:

That wraps up this Photoshop Elements tutorial on how to extend the sky. See more Photoshop Elements tutorials by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

If you have comments, questions or requests please don't hesitate to use the Contact form to let me know.

Until next time,

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