Making Skies dramatic in GIMP

An easy way to make ordinary white cloud on blue skies into dramatic significant parts of your photographs. This is a very simple trick to do in GIMP and the results are great!

Dramatic Skies in GIMPDramatic Skies in GIMP


1. Starting

  • Open your image up in GIMP – preferably with plenty of sky!
  • Duplicate your Background Layer (set to multiply):
  • And go, Colors –> Components –> Channel Mixer:
Colors --> Components --> Channel MixerColors –> Components –> Channel Mixer

2. Channel Mixer

  • To make your sky really dramatic with dark blue sky you need to really experiment here!
  • Firstly, select Monochrome, leave preserve luminosity unchecked:
  • In most cases moving the RED Channel to 200 will be fine, but if you have a mixture of colours than you will have to experiment a little:
  • The GREEN Channel will sit in between the Red and blue channels, and can be used to increase brightness if your image is lacking red.
  • The BLUE Channel is the most important here, decreasing the blue channel will make those dramatic dark skies, so keep this low as possible:
  • At the end set the blending mode to Multiply:
  • My image could be very different to yours and the settings will vary so you need to play around a bit to achieve that desirable effect:
Channel Mixer - Monochrome: 200, -25, -75Channel Mixer – Monochrome: 200, -25, -75

3.a. Gradient Map – Black & White

  • A Gradient Map will increase contrast and better define the clouds from the dark blue sky.
  • Duplicate your original layer
  • Make sure your FG is Black and BG is White:
  • Go, Colors –> Map –> Gradient Map:
  • And set that layer to Overlay:
Gradient Map - Colors --> Map --> Gradient MapGradient Map – Colors –> Map –> Gradient Map

4. Adjusting Levels – White

  • To make your clouds perfect white go, Colors –> Levels:
  • Now, select the WHITE Selector (pipette) and click on the whitest part of your clouds:
Adjusting Levels - Colors --> LevelsAdjusting Levels – Colors –> Levels

Here is the BEFORE and AFTER shot:

Before/After - Dramatic Skies in GIMPBefore/After – Dramatic Skies in GIMP

That’s It!

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!


3 Responses to Making Skies dramatic in GIMP

  1. Sheryl says:

    In the Gimp I have I cannot set a background layer and I cannot set to multiply in any of these steps. I cannot set to overlay either. Are all Gimps the same? Your instructions seemed simple to follow, I’m just not finding certain steps. What can I do?

  2. Sheryl says:

    Your steps seem easy enough to follow,but in my Gimp some of those steps are missing. I cannot set a background layer. I cannot multiply. And I cannot set overlay. What can I do? Are all gimps the same?

  3. ionutbreana says:

    uninstall gimp from your machine, then go to and download the latest version and install it.

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