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Photoshop Space and Planet Scene

I think that all of us have been amazed by magnificent images of open space. In this tutorial you will learn how to create such pictures.

Step 1

First we’re going to light the stars. Create a new document and fill it with black. I’ve set the dimensions to 1600×1200 so it can be used as a wallpaper in future. Duplicate this layer.
Go to Filter - Noise - Add Noise. Set Amount to 10%, distribution to Gaussian and check Monochromatic.

Step 2

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness & Contrast and set Brightness -30 and Contrast 75. Now the noise begins to remind stars.

Step 3

Now we are adding some large stars. Duplicate the stars layer, set its Brightness -100 and Contrast 50.

Step 4

Press Ctrl+T and make layer with large stars about two times bigger. Hold Shift to transform layer proportionally.
Press Ctrl+L to call Levels window. Input the values like on the picture below to increase the contrast.

Step 5

Change layer blending mode to Screen. To avoid echo effect, press Ctrl+T and rotate layer for 90 degrees (hold Shift while rotating to get the right angle).

Step 6

Take soft round eraser with diameter about 20-30 px and begin to erase our stars on both layers. Try to create different strokes in all directions to make the star distribution look natural. Remember that there must be more black space than the space with stars and more little stars than large.

Step 7

Create some stellar fields with Clone Stamp tool (use the brush with soft edges). You must decide yourself how to place star clouds and empty spaces. Just use your imagination.

Step 8

Add glow to the star clouds. Duplicate the layer with large stars. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with radius about 10 px and change layer blending mode to Linear Dodge.
Press Ctrl+U and colorize star glow (I set hue to 230). You can repeat this step several times to make starlight more expressive.

Step 9

Now we are creating some details: huge stars, star dust and multicolored nebula.
Create new layer with Blending mode set to Linear Dodge and fill it with black. Go to Filter - Render - Lens Flare.
I used 35 mm prime. You can transform, colorize and duplicate this layer to create several different huge stars. Use a little different color for each star, it will bring some diversity (the easiest way to do it is to press Ctrl+U and change Hue).

Step 10

Create new layer for star dust. Set layer opacity to 25% and blending mode to Screen. Take any brush with soft edges and configure it to add texture. I used Confetti texture, it is one of the standard Photoshop textures.
Paint some star dust with blue color.

Step 11

Create new layer, take soft round brush and paint a cloud like this. It’s quite easy: first paint the blue base, then red field, then yellow and white. Use Filter - Blur - Gaussian blur with radius 50 px.

Step 12

Create new black layer and use Filter - Render - Clouds. Change layer blending mode to Overlay. Duplicate the layer with clouds.

Step 13

Select the layer with nebula and change its opacity to 55%, layer blending mode Screen. Find the best place for your nebula and move it there.

Step 14

We’ve finished with sky. Now let’s create a planet.
Find rock texture for your future planet. I used this one from SXC.

Step 15

Increase canvas size to make it square. Use Clone Stamp tool to fill the empty space with texture. Also remove too dark spots with the same tool.
Edit - Define Pattern to create a pattern from our picture.

Step 16

Create a new document 1600×1600. Make round selection with Elliptical Marquee Tool (hold Shift to make a circle) and fill it with our pattern.

Step 17

Do not reset selection. Go to Filter - Distort - Spherize with Amount set to 100%. Press Ctrl+F to repeat this filter.

Step 18

Duplicate the layer with planet and fill the circle with pale blue. It will be the atmosphere of the planet. You can use green or any other color. I am creating a blue planet, so it will be #455571.

Step 19

Duplicate this layer and fill it with black. It will be planet shadow. Select the layer with atmosphere, double click on it to call Layer Style window. Apply the following style changes:

Step 20

Place the layer with shadow above the atmosphere. Apply 75 px Gaussian blur (Filter - Blur - Gaussian Blur).

Step 21

Press Ctrl+T and transform the shadow: increase its size and move slightly to upper left corner. I chose this position of shadow because I am going to place the planet in the upper left corner of picture, and the light is going from the biggest star in the center of it.

Step 22

Select the layer with atmosphere and set its blending mode to Screen, so we will see the surface of the planet. I don’t like the brightness and contrast of it at this moment, so I reduced layer opacity to 33%.
Then I duplicated the layer with surface and set layer blending mode to Soft Light. Also I changed the opacity of shadow to 90%.

Step 23

Make the background layer invisible by clicking on the eye that indicates visibility in the Layers palette. Shift+Ctrl+E to merge visible layers. Now copy the planet and place it at the corner of the document with space. I applied some additional glow to the planet.


That’s all. Thank you for reading.