Sky Replacement

Adobe / Strategic vision, User research, Product design, Prototyping / 2020


This case study details the design process of a sky replacement feature for Photoshop, aimed at helping outdoor photographers with beginner to intermediate skill levels.

Demo: Sky Replacement

Problem & Target Customer

The problem we aimed to solve was the complexity of replacing skies in photos using Photoshop, a common issue faced by outdoor photographers.

Customer Interviews & Research

  • Conducted customer interviews and attended conferences to gather insights on customer workflows, challenges, and preferences.
  • Identified customer goals, sources of new skies, and reasons for sky replacement.
Customer interview 1
Customer interview 2
Sky replacement process

Design Process

  • Iterated on designs and prototypes based on customer feedback.
  • Explored various interface and interaction options to improve user experience.
Early brainstorming on the whiteboard
Design exploration: New layer type and behavior for the feature
Design exploration: Modaless sky replacement experience (It was dropped later)
The early prototype that I used at conferences to interview customers
Design spec: Sky replacement modal
Design spec: Sky preset thumbnails

Challenges & Constraints

  • Worked with AI/ML researchers and engineers to improve sky detection and color matching.
  • Ensured output was re-editable and allowed for result refinement.

Solution & Features

  • Simplified sky replacement process by reducing steps from 4 to 1.
  • Provided real-time preview of different sky options.
  • Offered built-in sky presets and an additional library for download.
Replacing the sky in the image in seconds! Sky selection, layer mask, and adjustments are in one command + Live preview
Customers can play with relevant knobs from one place with a live preview.
Various sky presets are installed with Photoshop. If customers need more presets, they can download more for free using the button in the dialog.

Results & Impact

  • Significantly reduced time spent enhancing skies in photos.
  • Removed the need for users to watch tutorials on YouTube.
  • Enabled users to focus on creativity rather than technicalities.


Photoshop’s sky replacement tool makes it easier to fake a perfect sunset
Goodbye to apocalyptic skies with just a few clicks.
Photoshop’s Sky Replacement Makes Photography Something It’s Not
Let me ask you a question. Is this photo real or fake? This might be a difficult question because the answer depends on what you define as real or fake.