Photoshop CS6: Create a Realistic Planet in Outer Space

Final product

As much as most of us would love to visit outer space, we can bring the cosmos to us instead by using Photoshop. In this tech-recipes experiment we will recreate some of the famous photographs of the sun starting to peek out from the Earth’s shadow.

This is directed at intermediate Photoshop users with at least a little bit of experience. This tutorial will show you a cool take on creating your own realistic planet. This tutorial was preformed on Photoshop CS6, but it will also apply to users running CS5. You will need some sort of earth-like texture.

1.First, we need to create a new rectangular document. The dimensions are up to you. Using the paint bucket tool, fill the background to a solid black. make background layer black

2.Create a new layer above the black layer, and select the Brush tool from the tools palette on the left-hand side. create new layer, and select the brush

3.Now, bring up brush settings. This can be done by clicking Window and then Brush or by simply hitting the F5 key on your keyboard. We want to create a brush that will aid us in drawing in our star field. go to: windows > brush

4.First, select Brush Tip Shape. Change the size to 3 pixels, and change the Spacing to 260 percent. Then click on the Shape Dynamics option below. Shape dynamics, set size to 3px and spacing to 260%

5.Under Shape Dynamics, change the Size Jitter to 100%. Then move on to the Scattering option.

set size jitter to 100

6.Make sure that the check box next to Both Axes is selected, and change the Scatter to 1000%. Then set the Count to 1. Now, move on to the Transfer option below. Check both axis and set scatter to 1000%

7.Under Transfer, change both the Opacity Jitter and the Flow Jitter to 100%.

Set opacity jitter to 100% and the flow jitter to 100%

Finally our “star” brush is finished and ready for use. If you want to save it for a later occasion, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner, and select New Brush Preset….

saving the brush. Save new preset

8.Using the brush, simply paint over your background until you are happy with the density of the “stars.”draw using the brush until you like the amount of starts

9.We are now getting to the exciting part. This is where we will begin to draw in your planet. From the tool palette on the left-hand side, select the Ellipse tool. If it is hidden away from view, it is located under the rectangle tool. select the elipse tool

10.Now, zoom out of your document, and draw in a gigantic circle. This can be done by holding the Shift key and clicking and dragging. Once you are happy with the size of your circle, position it the way you would like your planet to look.

draw in huge circle at the bottom of your document

11.Now, double-click on the Ellipse 1 layer, and change the color of the circle to blackDouble-click the elipse, and change the color to black

12.Now, we want to start making out “planet” realistic. First, add some Layer Styles, starting with Inner Glow…. This can be brought up by selecting the fx option at the bottom of the layers palette. click on fx > inner glow

13.Under Inner Glow, adjust the blend mode to Linear Dodge, and then select a baby blue color from the color picker. Now, change the size to 20 pixels and the range to 60 percent. When you have adjusted your settings accordingly, move on to the Outer Glow. Set blend mode to linear dodge, pick a baby blue , change the size to 20px and the range to 60%

14.Under Outer Glow, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge, and then choose a deeper blue than the one you previously chose for the inner glow. Now, adjust the size to 10 pixels. When you are happy with these settings, move on to the Inner Shadow option. Set the blend mode to linear dodge and pick another bluem set the size to 10px and the range to 50%

15.Under Inner Shadow, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge, and select a blue similar or identical as the one for outer glow. Now, un-check the box next to Use global light and set the angle to 90 degrees. Change the distance to 10 pixels and the size to 7, and click OKset blend mode to linear dodge, pick baby blue. Uncheck global light, set angle to 90 degrees. Then change distance to 10px and size to 7

16.Now, this is where the texture comes in. Open it up in Photoshop, and drag it onto your planetDrag your texture into your planet

17.Move the texture to the desired location. Make sure that it overlaps that semicircle. position texture over the circle

18.Now, we want to cut out all of the unnecessary texture. This can be done by Ctrl + Click on the Ellipse shape, and then selecting the Add layer mask option.Ctrl click on the circle in the layer palate

19.Now, we want to make the texture a bit more realistic. This can be done by go to Filter > Distort > Spherize….go: filter > distort > spherize...

20.Under the Spherize screen, make sure the Amount is set to 100% and hit OKset amount to 100% and hit ok

21.This is what you should be looking at by now. It looks good, but it is not realistic enough. Current state

22.Select the texture layer, and change the blending mode to OverlaySelect overlay for the blend mode

23.Now, change the layer opacity to 70%set the opacity to 70%

24.Select the layer that holds your “planet,” and click the Create new layer iconSelect the ellipse layer and hit create new layer

25.Ctrl + Click on the circle in the ellipse layer. 

26.Select the brush tool. Then right-click to bring up brush options. Change the brush size to around 475 pixels. set the brush size to 475px

27.Now, click somewhere around the top to reveal some of your texture. click around the top

28.The planet looks much better, but we can still keep going. Right-click on the ellipse layer, and select Duplicate Layer….right click the ellipse layer and select duplicate layer

29.Right-click the ellipse layer again, and choose Clear Layer Style. right on the ellipse layer and select clear layer style

30.On the duplicated layer, select Outer Glow from the fx options. select fx > outer glow...

31.Set the blend mode to Linear Dodge and the opacity to 100%. Then select a baby blue  color. Now change the size to 155 pixels and the range to 60%, and then hit OKset blend mode to linear dodge. Change the opacity to 100%, select a baby blue, change the size to 155px. and the range to 60%

32.Now we want to “squish” this new layer. Go to Edit > Free Transform Path, or simply hit Ctrl + Tgo: Edit > Free Transform Path

33.Now, hold the Alt key as you decrease the width of the layer. This will make the top have more of a glow than the sides. holding alt, resize the width of the shape

34.Now, we will create a New Layer above our star field. create a new layer above the stars

35.Select the brush tool again, and change the size of the brush to 200 pixelsselect a 200px soft brush

36.Now, click at the tip of your planet. This will create a white glow that will resemble a light source. click to set foreign light source.

37.Now, create another New Layer above the star field. crate a new layer above the star field

38.This time set the brush to 7 pixels in width. set the brush size to 7px

39.Now, draw a straight line by holding the Shift key and dragging your mouse. This line should only be a little bit longer than your light source. draw a straight white line

40.This line will be our lens flare. To make it realistic, you have to add a Motion Blur. The Motion Blur can be found by going to Filter > Blur > and then selecting the Motion Blur….go: Filter > Blur > Motion Blur...

41.Under the Motion Blur options, set the Distance to 500 pixels and hit OK. set distance to 500px and hit ok

42.Now, drag this lens flare into the proper position  You should place it a little bit above the surface, and make it go through the light source, similar to what I have here. Position the flare through the light source

43.We will create another New Layer above the star field. create a new layer above the starfield

44.Change the Foreground color to baby blue. I used #3e78cf. When you have found a good blue, hit OKselect a baby blue and hit ok

45.Our planet is looking good, but we still want to add a few more details. Go to Filter > Render > Cloudsgo: Filter > Render > Clouds

46.With the cloud layer selected, open up Levels under the Adjustments tab. Then set the levels to 0.7.set the level slide to 0.7

47.Right-click on the cloud layer, and choose Duplicate layer…right click on the clouds layer and duplicate it

48.You should now have two identical cloud layers. Select the bottom one first, and change the blending mode to Soft Light. set the bottom one to soft light

49.Now, select the top cloud layer, and change the Opacity to 35%. You are done!Set the top cloud layer to normal with 35% opacity

Below is the finished product. It looks very good. You can use the same methods to create other planets in the image or maybe add a moon if you choose. Play around, and find what strategy renders the best results for you.

Final product

 

 

 

About Alex Bahdanovich

Writer, author, wordsmith -- this tech enthusiast enjoys Starbucks, good reads, and golden retrievers.
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