Sep 22, 2016

How to Add Birds to Photos in Photoshop

How to Add Birds to Photos in Photoshop

Birds can add a bit of whimsy and movement to a photo and adding them couldn’t be easier! Learn how in today’s episode.

How to Select and Mask Birds

The first step to adding birds is finding a photo of flying birds. In this example we use an image from Adobe Stock but you can use any image that suits your needs.

First, make a rough selection around the birds you want to transfer from one image to another. Use the Lasso Tool to Draw a selection around the birds then use the Move Tool to transfer them to another document.

Next it is time to cut the birds out from their Background. The easiest way to do this is by going to ‘Select – Color Range’ and choosing the Color of the sky behind the birds. If you need to addd to the selected area, click on the PLUS Eyedropper Tool and add more areas of sky.

Keep in mind—dark areas will not be selected, Light areas will be selected.

After creating a good selection of the sky, hit ok, and load it as a Layer Mask on the bird layer. You will need to Invert the Layer Mask which can be done by hitting ‘CTRL/CMD + I’ or going to ‘Image – AdjustmentsInvert’.

You should now see only birds on the new Background!

How to Color-Correct Birds

Because the birds are surrounded by the blue of the sky, it is important to Color Correct the birds to fit the new sky.

Duplicate the Background layer and place it over the birds and set the blending mode to ‘Hue’. This will bring the Color of the sky into the birds and allow everything to blend together!


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(will not be published)

  • user image
    Don Funderburg

    I’ve used this technique but yours has a few extra points to make it much better. I suspect you could use this for airplanes also or athletes in the air also.

  • user image

    Thank you! You are amazing! I followed along with a few photos but missed something about painting over birds you don’t want visible.. “using the brush tool to paint black on the layer mask…” how did you get to this? When I selected the brush tool and painted over a bird I did not want visible, it just added a lighter hue instead of removing the bird… what did I miss? Also, I still have a faint line of the lasso tool around my selection of birds… how can I remove that? Thanks!!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add Birds to Photos in Photoshop

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      Dennis Oliver

      Sounds like you had the wrong layer selected, you need to select the layer mask, not the layer itself. The lasso line should also be able to be masked out the same way you mask out the birds. Just ensure you are on the layer mask

  • user image

    Aaron your tutorials are always great. They are to the point and easy to follow. Just picking one of late to post this comment. I’d love to get some help on creating texture and aged effects such as found in the DistressedFX app. Thanks!

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    Anthony Scott

    Hey Aaron,
    Another great lesson. The hue blend layer technique will be super helpful in the future.

  • user image

    Perfect timing !
    I only shot some pics yesterday of flocks of pelicans with a plan to edit in my landscape photo
    Couldnt have come at a better time..perfect from phlearn as always ?

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    Gregory Tutin

    A simple but very effective tutorial which helps enhance some photos with only a sky. Birds in the sky are completely natural.

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    Mr Audré Kieffer

    Hi Aaron,
    Thanks for this tutorial! I am still discovering options and easy ways that I did not know. I do not know if you talked about it but I’d like to know how to do Sculpture Athletes by Tim Tadder. Thank you!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add Birds to Photos in Photoshop

  • user image

    your tutorials are mind blowing, please make a tutorial on sketching vector images without black lines should be natural

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add Birds to Photos in Photoshop

  • user image

    always impressive how easy you explain. Love your tutorials, they help me to learn so much about PS

  • user image

    Hello Aaron,
    Very nice tutorial.
    Is it possible to change faces from one person toanother.

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    Dave from Canada

    I’m trying to delete the background from a tall ship (without destroying the mast and lines) to place the ship into a different photo; I have been faithfully watching all your episodes to find the best way to do this, and tried many. In part, this is the episode I’ve been waiting for, deleting background. Thank you Aaron, I always pick-up good and new tricks from you. Dave

  • user image

    Thanks! Would this work if you added clouds of just a different sky? By changing the 2nd back ground layer to Hue so the colors match? That is what I struggle with. Matching the color of the
    sky or clouds to the image I added them to

  • karimmifflin

    Another great tutorial but……birds ? We no need no stinking birds : ) Just to show how awesome your tutorials are, I used the techniques outlined in this tutorial to solve a dilemma I was having with a couple of photos I was working on. Thanks !! As usual Phlearn is awesome . Keep up the great work !!

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    Bob Johnson

    Aaron, just a quick thank you for your amazingly useful and concise tutorials. I’ve taken quite a few of your full length Creative live classes, also. I’ll email you some thoughts that Tim Grey and I discussed about one of your compositing subjects. Might take a while, but could be a bonus for you.

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    Les Holmes

    Hi Aaron, i’ve taken some good photos and I ended up deleting them because of blur. When I tried to sharpen them, it added too much noise so I just deleted them . Can you do it to Tutorial on how to sharpen images without adding too much noise or grain ?? ???

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    Von McKnelly

    I recently conducted a landscape workshop where I showed this tutorial to my students. Before viewing your easy method, I used the pen tool to clip out birds….this was very helpful to both myself and my students. Thanks!

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    shane Christensen

    Thanks Aaron! As always, love your stuff! Great teaching style. Oh and love the sirens too! I am a fireman, so that sound never gets old for me!!