In this tutorial, I will tell you in detail on how to use the functions of Photoshop in creating stars, planets, nebula and combine them into a unified and harmonious composition, color adjustments and more. You will learn a lot of useful and interesting techniques in space-art and Photoshop. See this tutorial and learn how easy it is!
First, we’ll create a color background and add a little stars to make the depth for image. Then I will show you how to create a nebula and star brushes. The next step will be the creation of the planets, mounting it and various effects. At the end of this tutorial, I will show you how to make dark matter and add lighting effects. I want to warn you that all in this tutorial (colors, shapes, sizes, types of brushes, and so on) are given for my artwork. You can try and experiment with everything. Because this tutorial aims to develop your creative skills and thinking. Feel free go for it! You will need any version of Photoshop, inspiration and a bit of attentiveness.
- Planet texture – MariaSemelevich
- Galactic Space Brushes Set – drkzin
- Sky stock – affen92
- Asteroid Ring Stock Pack – Euderion
Launch Photoshop and begin to create! Create a new document. Go to File > New or the short key Cmd /Ctrl+ N. A blank document with size of 4000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels high, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch, Background Contents: Other (black color (# 000000)).
The first thing I did a colored background. Create new layer, used icon on Layer panel (or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). Select Brush Tool (B) on Toolbar and set the settings Size: 900px, Opacity: 100%, Hardness: 0%, Flow: 100%. I chose tints of blue and green color in Swatches panel (Colors: # 005952, # 003663, # 002157). Arbitrarily drew a few spots across the entire width the working area.
To mix and make the colors more smooth, I added a filter “Gaussian Blur” (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur…). Set Radius: 300px. Set Opacity: 76% to colored layer.
To create a volume for the background, I added stars. Create new layer, used icon on Layer panel (or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and Fill it a Black color. Press D, then X on keyboard to set Background color to Black. Use Cmd/Ctrl + Del to fill layer.
Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise… Set Amount: 30%, Distribution: Gaussian, be sure to set check box on Monochromatic, then click Ok.
Now we have a little excess star remove the texture to be more natural. Use Cmd/Ctrl + L to change Levels adjustment for this layer (Image > Adjustments > Levels…). Set Input Levels for black point to 150 and click Ok. As you can see the noise was like a stars. Set Blending mode “Screen” to this layer for show background color.
To make a bigger stars, Duplicate stars layer (Cmd/Ctrl+ J or Layer > Duplicate Layer). Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) to resize scale to 200% proportionally. Be sure to move both layers with the stars texture under colored layer.
Created texture seemed to me a bit of like pattern and I decided to diversify its. I create brush from usual “Oil Pastel Large” brush (it is in a standard set of Photoshop brushes), but I modified it. Select brush “Oil Pastel Large” and press F5 to move in Brush settings.
Make settings for each value like shown in the images below. This is a simple brush with varied changing angle. Be sure to save this brush, because it will be needed us in future. You have two options, you can use the Eraser Tool (E) or add Layer masks to both stars layers and remove needless on it (I recommend the second way, because then you can correct the position of the stars, if you do not like something).
Add a Layer mask to each star layer (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All or use icon on Layer panel). Use Brush Tool (B) with created brush (Size: 400px, Opacity: 70-40%) to remove excess stars texture. Try not to repeat the previous layer mask and put stars in the same place. Make texture varied and where you plan to place Nebula (or the main object). It is important to make the texture varied that there were clusters of stars, and some parts.
Now I have created a nebula. It’s very simple, create new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). Use Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and draw an ellipse almost the entire width of the worked area. In principle, not necessarily to use this tool. You need to create an area desired shape. Right click on the circle and select “Feather”, enter of feather radius 45px and click Ok. This is to soften the edges of the future nebula.
Make sure you select a created layer and set Default Background and Foreground colors (D or Icon next to the switching colors). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds… In your ellipse should appear clouds. Add another filter – Difference Clouds (Filter > Render > Difference Clouds…). You should get similar like in image below.
To better understand the structure of the future nebula, change the Blending mode for this layer to “Color Dodge”. Repeat apply filter “Difference Clouds”, using Cmd/Ctrl+ F or Filter > Difference Clouds. Keep hitting Cmd/Ctrl+ F until you get the desired result or at least 9000 times :).
Deselect nebula (Select > Deselect or Cmd/Ctrl + D) and begin to sculpting the shape. At this stage, I used two tools: Warp Tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Transform > Warp) and Puppet Warp (Edit > Puppet Warp). To give the basic shape, I used a Warp Tool few times, gives shape to something similar on picture. You can experiment with all of the Transformation tools. Try to stretch the edge of the nebula, so they will look more interesting and realistic.
To make a more precise form, I used Puppet Warp few times to make the final desired shape. I place transformation pointâ€™s nebula around the edges and give the desired shape and a little spaced out some parts. Just be careful, because if you strongly to stretch or bend one point may get a nasty bend in the texture and it will need to be removed.
Another interesting technique, it is a bit enhance color of nebula. Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + J) nebula layer and use different Image adjustments. Then reduce the layers Opacity to balance the color of your choice (This is not necessary if you are satisfied with the source of its color. I did not do it).
Now I made apophysis on nebula (dark areas and texture). Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). Select foreground color from background only which is a bit darker than the color on which you choose to apply apophysis. It is very easy to do using Eyedropper Tool (I) (When you use Brush Tool (B), hold Opt/Alt to switch on it). Upload “Galactic Space Brushes Set” brushes in Photoshop and used Brush Tool (B) proceed to draw the dark details over nebula, using low Opacity (30-70%).
You may to change the shape of your brush in the brush settings (F5). Remember to create a new layer after every one or two strokes, it will allow you to change the Opacity of every stroke. When you determine exactly the final version of apophysis, all layers are created with it can be merge into one (Layer > Merge Layers… or Cmd/Ctrl + E).
That’s how I did. Working with Nebula is finished. It is important not to overdo it and change “Opacity” to make apophysis a variety of contrast. If you want to make some elements nebula brighter, use apophysis or soft brushes with bright colors and gently paint over nebula on a new layer. You can also change Blending mode to achieve unusual effects.
Now I need the stars, which are becoming more and a variety of texture. That long to not seek the appropriate brush, I made it myself. Create a new document (File > New or Cmd /Ctrl+ N) A blank document with Width: 600 px, Height: 600px, Resolution 200 Pixels/Inch, Background Contents: White.
Select Brush Tool (B) (Size: 35px, Opacity: 100%, Hardness: 0%, Foreground color: black (D)). On a new layer draw a point approximately in the center of the document. Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T) and stretch a point in width so that the ends do not touch the edges of the document and slightly reduce the height.
Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + J) the layer with beam and turn it clockwise (Edit > Transform > Rotate 90 degrees Clockwise or Right click in transform mode > Rotate 90 Clockwise). Set Size: 200px, Opacity: 50% for brush and in the center of the crosshairs rays put a point.
Merge all stars layers (Cmd/Ctrl + E) on without background, select resulting star by clicking in layer thumbnail with hold Cmd/Ctrl (Do not worry if the brush is not released completely. When you make Brush Preset, it will be an entire) and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset… Specify desired name of the brush and click Ok.
Let’s go back to the brush and create another kind of star. Deselect (Cmd/Ctrl + D) star and Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + J) it. Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T) to proportionally (hold Shift + Opt/Alt) reduce its size and rotate it on angle 45 degrees. When finished, repeat previous paragraph.
Stars are ready and now I have to do settings for brushes. The first will be four-pointed star. Select first star brush in Brush Presets and go to Brush settings. In “Brush Tip Shape” set Size: 150px and checkbox on “Spacing”, Spacing: 255%. Then go to “Shape Dynamics”, set Size Jitter: 100%, Angle Jitter: 100%. Next tab is “Scattering”, set Scatter: 1000%, Count: 1. That’s it! The brush is ready. The result was not dense brush of the stars. Now save it and let’s do a test!
I create a new layer, set foreground color to white (press D then X on keyboard) and drew a stars like in image below, in dense areas of small stars and a single. I did not immediately make a big group. This is the basis of the starry sky.
Now make them shine. Give a little spark in their existence :). Make double click next the layer name and you will arrive in “Layer Style”. Go to tab “Outer Glow” and set Color for glow #e65d01, Spread: 3%, Size: 13px.
Now the eight-pointed star. In brush settings select the eight-pointed star and change “Spacing” to 255%, all other settings will be saved. On new layer I drew another star to diversify the overall atmosphere and do a variety of space. I also added a bit of fire to them, but now blue :).
On a new layer I made a cluster of stars to make the depth and variety of the company for big stars. Reduce brush Size to 125px, Spacing to 55% and Scatter to 300%. This time I did not add “Outer Glow” because all be very shiny and lost a sense of naturalness.
Here’s how I did at this stage. I combined all the layers into one group (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group layers) to add adjustment layers, and free space for future layers :).
Everything what I did seemed to me a bit dark and I decided to fix it, using adjustment layers. First adjustment layer is “Brightness/Contrast”. Set Brightness: 50, Contrast: 6.
Next adjustment layer is “Curves“. It’s all a bit complicated, because then we will correct blue and green channels and do adjust the entire image. Start with the blue channel. I created two points and moved them to the right to add more blue color in bright tones of the image and so it is with the green channel, but this time to the dark tones (point at the bottom) I added more green to show it. On RGB channel I corrected the whole image. A little darken dark areas to make the image more depth and increased light colors to give the brightness of stars and nebula.
Final adjustment layer is “Color Balance”. This layer, I a little bit adjusted the color gamut of my image. I decided that if everything is blue, the picture will lose its beauty and to fix it, I added a bit of yellow, magenta and red. Set Tone: Midtones, Magenta – Green: -12, Yellow – Blue: -11, Cyan – Red: +5.
Now the image looks like this. See what beautiful steel star and nebula color transition. In the mood of the photo has been added to the red on stars, green at the ends of nebula and pleasant shade of purple in the center. I liked the result.
And now for the fun part – the planets. In this part of tutorial I did planet from texture. Is understood that we can take the ready-made, but I’m not looking for easy ways :)! After learning how to create them, you can do planets as you need. Open texture image “texture_by_mariasemelevich-d80q4hm” (Cmd/Ctrl + O or File > Open).
Select Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and of the approximate center of the image, draw the maximum possible (must be flat) circle. Selection must be proportional from center, hold Shift+ Opt/Alt to it.
Duplicate this part in a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl +J). Hide layer- background with texture, so it does not disturb you by pressing on eye icon.
Now select the future planet (hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on layer thumbnail), and add filter Spherize… (Filter > Distort > Spherize…). Set Amount: 100% (If in your future others works, you use the texture is not very detailed, apply this filter again. This will help make the planet a more realistic).
In this step, it all depends on what part of the image you want to use (I decided to rotate my planet on 180 degrees (Edit > Transform > Rotate 180 degrees)) because right now, I’ll add a shadow on the planet. But before that slightly reduced planet (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Create a new layer, select planet and fill it a black color (Press D key, then X and use Cmd/Ctrl + Del). Deselect planet (Cmd/Ctrl + D).
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… and set Radius: 300px. Using Move Tool (V) (if you want to increase the shadow, use Cmd/Ctrl + T) place shadow on right place. If space is limited to blur, then you may get cut edges in the shadows. Remove them using Eraser Tool (E) (Size: 1000px, Opacity: 100%, Hardness: 0%). Select your original planet (hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on layer thumbnail) and click on shadow layer. Inverse selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or Select > Inverse) and press BACKSPACE key to remove shadow outer planet.
Now I have made light of the planet. Select planet and create a new layer under shadow layer. Fill selection white color (Cmd/Ctrl + Del). Go to Select > Modify > Contract… and set 100px, do this 2 times. Press BACKSPACE to remove selected area and Deselect it (Cmd/Ctrl + D).
Need to blur the resulting stroke. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Set Radius: 300px. Remove the glow outside the planet (Select planet – Invert selection ((Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I) – BACKSPACE – Deselect).
I decided to add a little shine on the horizon of the planet. Double-click next to the name of the layer with the planet. Set the values for the inner and outer glow as shown in images. Move the shadow so that it covers the glow and planet is ready!
Move the shadow so that it covers the glow and planet is ready! (as an additive, you can use various image adjustment to change the color, the contrast and so on (Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, etc.)). Remove all backgrounds from the substrate to the planet remained on a transparent background (I have a black background for example only received the planet) and save your planet in PNG file (File > Save As… or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + S) in the right place for you.
Let us return to our working document. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and choice crated planet (layer of the planet should be at the top in Layers palette). Reduce its size (Cmd/Ctrl + T) and position it in the lower right corner of the picture. Select Move tool (V), hold Opt/Alt and drag the planet to the right place. Rotate it towards to the bright side a first planet.
Duplicate in such a way to have four planets and place them as shown in the image below. I combined all planets layers in one group (Cmd/Ctrl + G), to them it was easier to work with. When positioned planet, try to get theirs a harmonious community. Though the genre is almost no rules, but it is integral part harmony. Space is a big clockwork and every detail is closely connected with others, and visual clutter is not.
On a new layer I darkened the planet in the right places to make it look realistic (I used Brush Tool (B) (Size: 300px, Opacity: 70%, Hardness: 0%)). Just do not overdo it. In order not to darken small planet in the lower right corner of the image, move the shadow layer under the layer with this planet.
When all the planets in their places. I started to work on the main planet. I would like to diversify their boring look :) and add a gas ring Create a new document (Cmd /Ctrl+ N). A blank document with size of 2000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels high, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch, Background Contents: Other (gray color (# 898989)). Used Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), on a new layer, draw a medium ellipse. Leave a little space to fit the ring. Add style “Outer Glow” to this layer.
Now create the rings. I know another way to create them, but I like this more often. Add style “Inner Glow” to this layer. In “Structure” set: Opacity: 100%, Noise: 2% (Adding noise ring will look realistic and with the effect of particle); in “Elements”: Size: 250px (I take the same maximum value to get the big ring). You do not see the rings? Do not worry! In “Quality” set contour “Rounded Steps” and enjoy the results.
Add another style “Outer Glow” and make the settings as shown in the image below. A little advice. Do not make the colored rings from this mess them up when applied to the planet. A little later, I’ll show you a interested way of coloring.
Duplicate the layer with the rings (Cmd/Ctrl + J). The bottom layer is necessary to slightly increase to make the outer ring more (Cmd/Ctrl + T).
Select Black area and make a right click on selection, in list choice “Feather”. Set Feather: 30px and delete the center of the rings. Merge two ring layers into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E), grab layer and drag it into your document (Background is not needed, only the ring).
I place a ring so that it did not go in the center of the image and was with the same angle as the planet. Slightly reduce its size and create perspective. I used Distort Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T and right click on object) to make a perspective for ring. Lowered the upper left corner and moved forward “to yourself” lower right corner of the grid transformation to get the result as in the picture.
I set Blending Mode “Screen” and Opacity: 45% for ring layer. Do not forget to place a layer with ring layer above layer with planets shadow, a ring did not close a small planet. Add a layer mask and use soft brush to remove part of the ring, which should be hidden behind the planet.
Now I started to paint rings. I did not want to use traditional methods, because their result I did not like. But I wanted to get something interested. So I added a hidden Photoshop gradients. Select Gradient Tool (G) and click on gradient editor. In the upper right corner of this window is a small gear – button, clicking on it brings you to the properties. At the bottom of this list is available gradients kits. Add “Photographic Toning” to using gradients. When they appear in gradient editor, select “Cyanotype” gradient.
Create new layer above ring layer as Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G). Apply a gradient starting from the center of the planet and on a diagonal to the star, as shown in image below.
Set Blending Mode “Multiply” to gradient layer and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl + J). For duplicate gradient layer set Blending Mode “Hard Light” and Opacity: 65%. The first layer toning ring, and the second strengthens its color, showing the planet’s shadow.
Well, you can not leave the planet in such a way :). About them completely forgotten, but now I will fix it. My space landscape already found the final tone, so I want the world to harmonize with the overall picture. For this I used three adjustment layers. All of them will be as Clipping Mask for planets group. First and second adjustment layers is “Brightness/Contrast”
Third adjustment layer is “Color Balance”. I added blue and cyan tint to the planet, in all three tones. Make settings for Midtones: Cyan – Red: -14, Magenta – Green: +9, Yellow – Blue: +24; for Highlights: Cyan – Red: -11, Magenta – Green: 0, Yellow – Blue: +13; for Shadow: Cyan – Red: +2, Magenta – Green: +1, Yellow – Blue: +3.
That such was the picture after using adjustment layers.
What space landscape without the asteroids? I thought and place (File > Place (Place Embedded)) image “Asteroid Ring Stock 8 by Euderion” from folder “asteroid_ring_stock_pack_by_euderion-d6dfe7s”.
I am located asteroids in the lower left corner of the image, so that they are slightly covered planet. Changed their size and flip horizontal it (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Add a layer mask to asteroid layer and removed the opposite side of the asteroid, so they do not overlap the top of the planet.
Working with the planets over and I decided to add something like apophysis or dark matter. I did it from the clouds. Open image “Sky_Stock_by_affen92” in new tab. Invert image (Cmd/Ctrl + I) to make clouds black. To make the image more contrast go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast… and set Brightness: 36, Contrast: 71.
Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + J) this layer. Go to Selection > Color Range. In Color Range select colors “Sampled Colors”, use Eyedropper Tool in this window and select all orange colors. Set Fuzziness: 70%. So I have select all the background and left only the clouds. Remove the resulting selection (BACKSPACE).
I cut out with Lasso Tool (L) the pieces of clouds I needed (To make it easier to work, hide the layer with the background by clicking on the eye icon) and moved them into the working document. Layers of dark matter must be under group of planets. Otherwise they will overlap the planet and get a slight misunderstanding.
I increased the size of the pieces (Cmd/Ctrl + T), duplicate some parts (Cmd/Ctrl + J) to make more and placed them under the lower left corner of the planet, on the right side of the upper planets and near a large planet (Do not worry, the clouds with an orange tint, it will not hurt the picture).
When I decided to exactly their location, the merge layers (Cmd/Ctrl + E) with pieces so they do not interfere with me. For this layer set Blending Mode “Subtract” and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl + J). Set Blending Mode “Darker color” and Opacity: 58%. Duplicated layer I located below the original, and the clouds place in the image on the left side of the upper planets (all unnecessary I remove, used Eraser Tool (E)).
I did not like the ink glow of dark matter, so I added to each dark matter layer adjustment layer “Hue/Saturation”. They are almost the same (Hue: 215, Saturation: 41, Lightness: -56), but for the lower layer (shown in blue) I changed the value Lightness: -33. So it became much better.
One last touch – add solar flare. Indeed, without the lighting picture will be incomplete and not realistic, so create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+ Shift + N). Fill it black color (D then X and use Cmd/Ctrl + Del). Convert this layer for Smart filters (Filter > Convert for Smart Filters) Add a filter “Lens Flare…” (Filter > Render > Lens Flare…). Set Lens type: “105mm Prime” and Brightness: 70%. Try to position flare on the edge of the planet, to create the effect of sun peeps.
All good, but I do not want that glare is make a problem viewing the whole picture, and especially the center. I cleaned them on filter layer mask, used Brush Tool (B).
I changed the color of flare that it harmoniously looked in the picture. To do this, I added an adjustment layer “Hue/Saturation” (Hue: 211, Saturation: 41, Lightness: 0). That’s it! Now everything is fine and the picture is ready! I hope you enjoyed it!
Download the PSD
Tutorial by Maria Semelevich
Thank you very much for taking the time to study this tutorial! I hope you benefited it! I wish all lucked in your future achievements! I thank the authors of resources for their excellent work and good quality! Thank you very much! If you have questions or need help, please contact me. I look forward to your feedback and creative works! You can contact me by e-mail – email@example.com or Facebook Deviantart Behance. I am open to suggestions and cooperation! With best wishes!
– Maria Semelevich.