Turning day into night using Pixelmator Pro

Using this tutorial, you’ll learn some basic techniques for turning daytime photos into nighttime ones. If you’d like to follow along with the photo we’re using, you can download it below.

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Step 1

Apply some color adjustments

As there’s less light, nighttime scenes are less colorful and vibrant, so we’ll need to reduce the saturation. Apply the Hue & Saturation adjustment and reduce Saturation to around -50%.

In addition to reducing the saturation, to get a convincing nighttime feel, you’ll need to a add dark blue tint. Apply the Color Monochrome adjustment with a dark blue color such as #050C3C. Reduce the Intensity to around 60% to bring back a little color.

Step 2

Darken the sky

If you’ve got an outdoor photo with a sky, this will usually be relatively brighter than the rest of your photo. You can replace the sky completely, if you like, but since the photo we’re using has a clear sky, it’s quite easy to transform it into a night sky. The first step will be darkening it to make it look more realistic.

Add an empty new layer by clicking the + button in the toolbar and choose Layer. Call this layer Fade. Then, choose the Gradient tool G, click the gradient well, and create a black to transparent black gradient.

To do that, click any gradient in the Gradients palette, click the left color stop and set the color to black. Then, click the color stop on the right and set the color to black and the opacity to 0%.

Now hold down the Shift ⇧ key and paint your gradient from the top of the sky down, far enough to darken the sky, but not far enough to darken the landscape too much.

Finally, reduce the opacity of the gradient layer to 65% to soften the darkening effect.

Step 3

Add some stars

This photo has a clear sky, so it needs a few stars to make the nighttime look more realistic. First, you’ll need to create a brush to make painting in stars a little easier.

Choose the Paint tool, Control ⌃-click the Hard Basic brush, and choose Duplicate. Then double-click the new brush to edit it.

Choose Scatter from the brush settings pop-up menu, set the Size Scatter to 100%, and the Opacity scatter to 65%. At the top of the Tool Options pane, you can also rename your brush to Stars. Click Done.

To edit nondestructively, add another empty new layer. Call this layer Stars. Paint in your stars by simply clicking where you’d like to add them. Because you’ve changed the size and opacity scatter settings, the size and opacity of every star will be a little different each time you click.

Once you’ve added enough stars, you’ll need to fade the ones closer to the horizon. To do this, add a layer mask to your Stars layer. Then, choose the Gradient tool and select a black to white linear gradient. Using the Gradient tool, paint on the layer mask from top to bottom while holding the Shift ⇧ key. To fade the bottom of the sky, make sure the black part of the gradient is at the bottom of the layer mask.

These steps will let you create nighttime shots from many types of photos, especially landscapes. Feel free to experiment with your own photos and share your results!

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