How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

It’s not so easy to find a perfect photo for a photo manipulation we have in mind. Sometimes, for example, we want to create a night scene, but the available photos are either too dark or already heavily edited. What do to in such a case?

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Well, you can always turn a day scene into a night scene with the power of Photoshop! In this tutorial I will show you how to play with the brightness of the scene, how to add stars to the sky, and how to add new light sources with convincing effects.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

What You Will Need

You can use any photo you need for this exercise. If you want to follow my steps directly, you can find the same photo I use here:

1. How to Select the Sky

Step 1

Open your photo in Photoshop. Take the Magic Wand Tool (W) and change its Tolerance to 100. Caution: such a high tolerance works best with a good contrast between the sky and the buildings.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Use the Magic Wand on the sky.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Go into Quick Mask Mode (Q) to see the selection better. Pick any brush to paint the areas that aren’t part of the sky (paint with black to select them as red).

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Exit Quick Mask Mode (Q) and go to Select > Refine Edge to make sure the selection is perfect. Select a view that lets you see the effects the best.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Now check Smart Radius and increase its value. You can also play with other sliders to get a perfect result. When you’re done, click OK.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Darken the Sky

Step 1

Go to Window > Adjustments. Select Hue/Saturation from the panel.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Clip the Adjustment Layer to the layer below (the sky). Then change the Lightness to make the sky very dark, but not black.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Every Adjustment Layer has a Layer Mask. You can learn how it works from this quick tutorial:

  • How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop
    Adobe Photoshop
    Quick Tip: Layer Mask vs. the Eraser Tool in Adobe Photoshop
    Monika Zagrobelna

In short, when you paint on a mask, you define the transparency of the layer: black makes the layer transparent, white makes it opaque, and the shades of gray become the states in between.

Click the mask to make it active.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Take the Gradient Tool (G) and click the gradient in the upper panel.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Change the gradient to very bright gray-white.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Apply the gradient to the mask from top to bottom. This will make the upper part “white” (opaque), and the lower part “bright gray” (slightly transparent).

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Click the background layer now. We need to darken it too! In the Adjustments panel, find Photo Filter.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Change the color to dark, desaturated blue.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Uncheck Preserve Luminosity…

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

… and make the effect very intense.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

The sky could use some blue tint as well! Add the Photo Filter adjustment to it, too, this time using a brighter, more saturated shade.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Normally, the night sky is brighter than non-illuminated buildings below, so let’s darken that lower layer some more. Duplicate (Control-J) the Photo Filter adjustment and lower its Opacity to adjust the intensity.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Create the Stars

Step 1

Create a New Layer on top. Use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) to fill it with black. Then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Add a maximum amount of black-and-white noise.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Now go to Filter > Filter Gallery and select Sketch > Stamp. Play with the settings to create an optimal effect. The sky is not perfectly clear, so we don’t want too many stars.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use the Move Tool (V) to move the stars up, over the sky.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Right click the stars layer and select Blending Options. Drag the upper black marker to the middle, to make the dark part of the layer transparent.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add a Layer Mask to this layer. Use a black-and-white gradient to make the lower part transparent, gradually turning opaque towards the top.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Illuminate the Windows

Step 1

Let’s pick some windows in the background—the farther they are, the harder it will be to notice the little imperfections. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the panes. Hold Shift to keep selecting after closing one selection.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Click the background layer and duplicate the selection (Control-J). Move the duplicated part to the top.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Right click the layer and select Blending Options. Check Color Overlay and change the color to bright orange.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Click the Blend Mode and scroll through it until you find the effect you like. I’ve decided to use Hue, as it adds the color without concealing the details.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Check Outer Glow.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Change its color to bright orange.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Play with the Blend Mode again…

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

… and adjust the sliders to the effect you want.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

The effect should be quite subtle.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Add a New Light Source

Step 1

There’s something resembling a lantern on the side of one of the buildings. Let’s use it to add some interesting light to the scene! Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select its shape.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Click the background layer, duplicate the selection (Control-J), and drag the new layer to the top.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Right click the layer and select Blending Options. Check Color Overlay and make it white.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Check Outer Glow and make it bright orange.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Experiment with the settings to get the best result.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create a New Layer and drag it right below the lantern. Pick bright orange and use a soft brush to paint the light around the lantern. You can lower the Flow to make the brush even softer.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Go to the Blending Options and drag the lower black marker to the right to remove the bright orange from the shadows.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Hold Alt to split the marker to make the effect more transitional. If you want to learn more about this technique, check out this quick guide:

  • How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop
    Digital Painting
    Quick Tip: the Magic of Photoshop’s Blend If
    Monika Zagrobelna

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Scroll through the Blend Modes of this layer to find the best effect.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Add a Layer Mask to this layer and paint the shadows on it. Nothing detailed—just make sure the light doesn’t reach to the parts blocked from it. Use black to paint the shadows and white to remove them, until you are happy with the result.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Create a New Layer and take a bright orange again.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Subtly paint some highlights on the protruding elements of the building to keep them 3D.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Change the Blend Mode and add a Layer Mask to make the effect more subtle.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

Finally, duplicate the glow (Control-J) and change its color to white.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Then remove it from the darker parts, leaving it only on the bright elements of the building. They should reflect more light and shouldn’t be so vividly colored.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Change the Blend Mode and lower the Opacity to adjust the intensity of this effect.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Add a Late Dusk/Early Dawn Effect

Step 1

Let’s adjust the final brightness of the scene now, since we have it all together. Go to the top of the layers and add a new Adjustment Layer: Levels.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Drag the white marker to the left to increase the amount of bright shades in the scene.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Create a New Layer. Fill it with black, and then go to its Blending Options and add Gradient Overlay.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Give it the colors of a low sun.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Hold Control and click the sky layer to get its outline.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Click the gradient layer and add a Layer Mask. The selection will be automatically applied to the mask.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Paint on the mask to reveal the mountains in the background.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Duplicate the sky (Control-J) and drag it to the top. We’re going to add special effects to the clouds.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Clip the Adjustment Layer to the duplicated sky, desaturate it, and make it slightly brighter.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add a Levels adjustment, clip it, and add more contrast to the sky with it.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Select all three layers (the sky and its Adjustment Layers) and Merge them (Control-E). Then go to the Blending Options of this new layer and remove it from the bright parts of the sky using the lower white marker. Change its Blend Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Duplicate (Control-J) the layer and play with its Blending Options too, this time removing it from the dark parts of the sky (the lower black marker). Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light as well, but leave the Opacity at 100%, adjusting it with a layer mask if needed.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Time for some final adjustments. Add an Exposure adjustment on top to play with the overall brightness.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

I’ve also decided to drag the sky slightly down to make the change of the colors more gradual (you can do it with a smart use of Layer Masks).

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

The background seemed a little too bright, so I darkened it too using a Hue/Saturation adjustment with some masking.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

When you’re done, merge all the layers (right click > Flatten Image) and go to Noise > Add Noise. This will add some realism of a photograph taken in low light.

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Good Job!

If you liked this tutorial, you may also be interested in our other guides on photo manipulation:

  • How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop
    Photo Manipulation
    Advanced Photo Manipulation Techniques: Document and Foreground Setup
    Melody Nieves
  • How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop
    Photo Manipulation
    Advanced Photo Manipulation Techniques: Introduction
    Melody Nieves
  • How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop
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    How to Create a Gothic Crow Lady Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop
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You can also achieve a similar effect to the one in this tutorial with far less effort by using one of these actions on GraphicRiver:

Night Effect Photoshop Action

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

Night Scene Creator

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop

The Dark Night Action

How to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Turn Day Into Night in Adobe Photoshop