Everything about Cloud Brushes in Photoshop

photoshop May 14, 2021
Photoshop Brushes Clouds

What is a Cloud Brush in Photoshop? The cloud brush in Adobe Photoshop is used for drawing cloud shapes and textures in any colour on a layer in your document using strokes. The cloud brushes are generally designed in three different formats - Single Cloud, Complex Sky and Nebulous Cloud. The brushes' application slightly varies from type to type; however, the general idea is the same. After selecting a cloud brush, you can draw simply by clicking the left mouse button a single time or by holding it down and dragging your cursor around the sky to create multiple clouds with a single stroke.

Although Adobe Photoshop doesn't come with cloud brushes by default, we recommend getting a good set of cloud brushes as it is a simple and powerful way of enhancing your photos. This tool's ease of use and versatility make it a handy resource for both the novice and the expert photographer to add depth and special touch to your photography projects.

This blog post will cover everything about Cloud Brushes in Photoshop, and we will end by answering the most common questions about cloud brushes.

Follow the blog post with our Cloud Brush Sample pack here.

Photoshop Brushes - Clouds:

  1. What are Photoshop Brushes
  2. Where can I get cloud brushes for Photoshop
  3. How to import cloud brushes into Photoshop
  4. How to create cloud brushes in Photoshop
  5. How to use cloud brushes in Photoshop
  6. FAQ about cloud brushes in Photoshop


1. What are Photoshop Brushes

The Brush Tool is a primary painting tool. It works like a traditional drawing tool by applying colour using strokes. After selecting a brush, you can draw simply by clicking the left mouse button a single time or by holding it down and dragging your cursor around the page to create multiple marks with a single stroke. The brush tool is located in the standard toolbar, and its default shortcut is the letter B.

Photoshop includes several built-in presets, which are premade brushes ready to use. They are located in the Preset Library/Preset Manager, and they come as .abr files. The standard version of Photoshop comes with four default brush libraries and 29 brushes. Depending on your photographic and artistic style, we recommend getting additional brushes to utilise this incredible tool in Photoshop fully.

2. Where Can I Get Cloud Brushes for Photoshop

While we already established that Photoshop doesn't come with cloud brushes by default, there are many places where you can obtain them. First, we have a small library of free brushes available for you to play around with. (Download your free Photoshop cloud brushes here

When it comes to purchasing or obtaining your cloud brushes for Photoshop, you want to be looking for multiple things:

  • High brush resolution cloud brushes - make sure that your new brushes have at least 4000px on their long edges to get the best quality possible while brushing on your photos.
  • Sharp and well-defined cloud brushes - High definition does not always ensure the best quality. All photoshop brushes, including the cloud brushes, can be blurry and out of focus.
  • Big selection of cloud brushes - every photo will require clouds in different size, shape and look. That is a reason why you want to get as many good quality cloud brushes as possible.

See our popular Landscape Photography Brushes here.

3. How to Import Cloud Brushes in Photoshop.

How you import cloud brushes will vary, depending on your version of Photoshop. The most recent versions of Photoshop allows you to double click on your ABR files in their folder, and they will be installed automatically into Photoshop. If this technique doesn't work for you, then here are the installation steps to import additional brushes into your version of Photoshop.

Importing Cloud Brushes in Photoshop (From Photoshop 2020)

If you’re using Photoshop from Photoshop 2020 onwards, you can install new brushes using the Brushes menu panel, but you may need to display the panel first.

To do this, open a new or existing image in Photoshop and then press Window > Brushes to display the panel.

The Brushes menu panel should appear at this point, but you may need to move it using your mouse to lock it into place with the other panels on the right.

To add new brushes, select the “Settings” menu icon in the top-right section of the panel. From here, click the “Import Brushes” option.

In the “Load” file selection window, select your downloaded third-party brush ABR file.

Once your ABR file is selected, click the “Load” button to install the brush into Photoshop.

If successful, the loaded brushes will now appear as a grouped folder in the Brushes panel for you to begin using.

Importing Cloud Brushes in Photoshop (CC 2019 and Older)

To load brushes in older versions of Photoshop (Photoshop CC 2019 and older), you’ll need to use the Preset Manager rather than the Brushes panel menu.

To do this, launch Adobe Photoshop on your PC, then press Edit > Presets > Preset Manager.

In the “Preset Manager” window, press the “Load” button.

From here, select your brushes using the “Load” file selection window and then click the “Load” button to insert them into Photoshop.

You may need to select “Brushes (*.ABR) from the drop-down menu beside the “File Name” box to be able to select them.

4. How to Create Cloud Brushes in Photoshop

Creating cloud brushes is a straightforward task; however, basic knowledge of Photoshop will help. Here is a quick and easy tutorial that will teach you how to sample a cloud from a source photograph and create a Photoshop cloud brush used on any sky.

If you are not ready to create your own brushes, or if you want to save some time, we have over 232 high resolution brushes for Photoshop ready to use and available here.

Step 1 - Download and open your source image in Photoshop.

Open your source image in Photoshop. There are literally hundreds of free high-resolution images that you can find around the internet. If you want to save your time, download our source images together with a little free cloud brush library here.

Step 2 - Select your brush and copy it to the clipboard.

Use the Lasso (L) tool to draw a rough selection around the cloud and copy it to the clipboard.

Step 3 - Create a new document using the Clipboard document preset.

Create a new document in Photoshop using the Clipboard document preset, which should be the exact size of your cloud.

Step 4 - Paste your cloud.

Paste your cloud into the new document.

Step 5 - Use the Hue/Saturation tool.

Use Hue/Saturation to remove all saturation, or press the shortcut CMD+SHIFT+U or CTRL+SHIFT+U.

Step 6 - Invert the colours.

Press CMD+I or CTRL+I to invert the colours.

Step 7 - Add a Levels adjustment layer.

Next, add a Levels adjustment layer and adjust the highlight input level until the cloud is completely isolated. If you want to be sure, you can use the eyedropper tool to check that the area around the cloud is #FFFFFF.

Step 8 - Trim the canvas.

Use the Transformation tool to adjust the shape of the cloud and straighten it out if necessary. Go to Image > Trim... and trim away all directions.

Step 8 - Create the brush.

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset... give it a name and click OK to create your brush preset!

Step 9 - Use your new cloud brush.

You can now use your new brush preset to add clouds to any image you want. If you want to find out how to use your new cloud brushes, make sure to read the following chapter covering the use of cloud brushes in Photoshop.

5. How to Use Cloud Brushes in Photoshop

The cloud brush in Adobe Photoshop is a shape and texture type of brush. As such, it's generally applied simply by clicking the left mouse button a single time. The only exception is the nebulous style cloud brush, where the clouds are applied using the spray technique (holding the left mouse button on and moving the cursor around the sky).

Simple Brush Technique

Before you start using any brush, always ensure that you are brushing on a new layer by Layer > New > Layer. This will ensure that you are using non-destructive editing and give you the option of adjusting the size, shape, rotation, and direction of your clouds. 

The next step is to bring up the brush tool by selecting it on the basic toolbar or using the shortcut - B - on your keyboard. Now head into the brush library on the top of the screen and choose the desired brush.

To start with, make sure you set the foreground colour to #FFFFFF. Later on, you can experiment with other colours or sample some of the brightest areas of the photos by holding ALT/OPTION to respect the colour balance of the image you are working on.

After you've selected the brush you'd like to use, all you have to do is start clicking. As we mentioned above, depending on the type of the cloud brush, you can use single clicks for a single placement of the brushstroke, or you can hold the mouse button down and drag your cursor around the screen to create some cool effects with the nebulous style brushes. If you notice your brush size is too big, or you don't quite like the look of the marks it's creating, you can control the size, mode, opacity, and flow of the brush using the settings in the top toolbar. We found that reducing the Brush Opacity to 90% made the cloud brushes look a little more realistic.

Advance Brush Options

A new layer also allows you to use the Mask Tool for your clouds that should be hidden behind other elements on the photo (houses, trees, mountains etc.).

Another advantage of using a new layer for each of the brush strokes is the possibility of adjusting the brushes after they've been brushed in the Layer Style toolbar. You can access this by going into Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options... There are many options available in the Layer Style window, including changing the brushstroke colour by going into Blending Options > Color Overlay and choosing the colour in the tool's Colour section.

And if you're really feeling adventurous, you can dig into the more advanced settings by opening the brush panel (F5) on the right side of Photoshop. If you have the patience for trial and error, tweaking these settings can lead to really cool things. 

Some of the interesting options including Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Transfer.

6. Frequently Asked Questions About Cloud Brushes in Photoshop (FAQ)

Let's finish this blog post by answering some of the frequently asked questions about cloud brushes.

How do I get cloud brushes in Photoshop?

Cloud brushes are not included with the standard version of Adobe Photoshop. The easiest way to get cloud brushes is to obtain them from third party creators. The second option is to create your own cloud brushes by using the Define Brush Preset technique.

Does Photoshop have a cloud brush?

No, Photoshop does not have a cloud brush. The standard version of Adobe Photoshop comes with four default brush libraries, including General Brushes, Wet Media Brushes, Dry Media Brushes and Special Effect Brushes.

How do I make fluffy clouds in Photoshop?

You can easily create fluffy clouds by using cloud brushes in Photoshop. Choose the fluffy cloud brushes in your brush library and apply them to your image, remembering that the Brush Opacity of 90% makes the fluffy cloud brushes look more realistic.

How do I change the colour of my cloud brush?

Before brushing, use the colour toolbar and pick the desired colour for your clouds. You can also sample some of the brightest areas of the photos by holding ALT/OPTION to respect the colour balance of the image you are working on.

If you want to change the colour of your clouds after you brush them on your photo, use the Layer Style toolbar and the Color Overlay option.

The End

That's it for today, but if you need any help, make sure to contact us directly, and we will do our best to help.

#StaySafe - Jakub Bors
@CleverPhotographer | @BorsPhotography

Jakub Bors Photography

Join 1000s Clever Photography Friends

Sign up and get our weekly newsletter with the latest updates and photography goodies.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.