How to: Create a moving clouds effect on iPad

 Moving clouds effect applied to a shot of Wynn @ Encore Hotels in Las Vegas.

Moving clouds effect applied to a shot of Wynn @ Encore Hotels in Las Vegas.

This is a shot from Wynn and Encore Resort in Las Vegas that I took with an iPhone 5 and ProHDR App, which has been superseeded by the new Version ProHDR X [iTunes App Store Link]

Once I decided to use my iPhone as my main camera and editing device, I tried to find ways how to do retouching work that I previously did on my Macbook with an iPhone or iPad and this photo is a good example. Originally I used the excellent Pixelmator on OSX to retouch skies: Mask out the boring sky, add a new layer with some clouds and apply a motion blur filter.

Though Pixelmator was been released for the iPad, it does not yet have a motion blur filter (or I simply didn't find it).

So I used Photoshop Touch (discontinued) on the iPad to create that effect; it's the only app I found so far that supports layers, has easy to use selection and mask refinement tools and a motion blur filter.

With Photoshop Touch, I could retouch the photo in the same way that I previously used on my Mac; here's how.


First I loaded the photo of Wynn and Encore into Photoshop Touch. Then I tapped the "+" icon in the layers palette and added a new photo layer with a cloud photo from the camera roll.

Make sure the two layers are ordered in the same way as shown in the screenshot: The building on top, then the cloud photo as a layer below the building.

Then I used the magic wand tool to mask the sky. Make sure the "+" option, the "contiguous" option are set. Depending on the different color tones of the original sky, adjust the tolerance. In my photo, the sky had probably 50 shades of blue and it's difficult to select the entire sky with one tap. That's why the "+" option is so important. If it's enabled, you can tap multiple times and Photoshop Touch will expand the selection.


Next position the photo layer with the clouds exactly how you want it:

  1. Tap the cloud layer
  2. in the Menu bar tap the four arrow icon
  3. Move and/or resize the cloud layer so the clouds are where you want them.

Finally make sure the cloud layer is selected. Tap on it if it's not. Then from the "fx" menu chose "Directional Blur". It's in the "Basic" section of the menu. Select an angle and bluring strength and tap the checkmark. The angle will define the direction of the motion blur.