In this tutorial, I will tell you in detail 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 for space-art and Photoshop. See this tutorial and learn how easy it is!

Preview of Final Results

First, we’ll create a color background and add little stars to make the depth for the 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 to go for it! You will need any version of Photoshop, inspiration, and a bit of attentiveness.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

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 a size of 4000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels high, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch, Background Contents: Other (black color (# 000000)).
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Step 2

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 of the working area.
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Step 3

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.
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Step 4

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.
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Step 5

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.
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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.
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Step 6

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.

18 thoughts on “How to Composite Your Own Space Scene from Scratch”

    1. That’s only because you weren’t coloring on a layer mask! Make sure that after you apply the layer mask, you click on the second thumbnail on the layer. After doing so, begin coloring in a black brush. Anything colored black on a layer mask will actually be erased. If you want to make the stars reappear, simply color it white.

  1. Every great tutorial. I need some help on Step 25. After I delete the center of black area the rings, the effects also disappear too. I still can’t figure out how to make the rings effects and without black area. Thank you.

    1. Maria Semelevich

      Hi Dylan, Thank you very much for your letter! Try to create rings, select all the layers with rings right click on layers > Convert to Smart Object. Select a dark circle (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M)). Add a layer mask (Layer > Add Layer Mask > Hide Selection or hold Opt/Alt and click on “Add layer mask” icon). This should remove the black circle. Then convert the layer to Smart Object again and you’re done. Also, this happens if you are working on a background layer.
      If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them! And I will answer you.

  2. This is a really great tutorial, thanks for this, Maria!
    http://i.imgur.com/RjttyDI.jpg
    This is how it turned out for me (for some reason, it’s darker when posting online, looks better in PS)! As you can see, I tried to make a larger star/sun closer to the planets, as it’s not realistic to have such shine from a nebula.

    I’m not very happy with how the sun turned out, could you give me an idea on how to make a better sun? Thanks!

  3. I am having problems with step 9: I keep clicking Ctrl and F for the “Difference clouds”, but nothing seems to happen inside the nebula, apart for at little shift in the stars, and I have clicked ALOT of times!

    1. Maria Semelevich

      Hi Tommy, It’s strange, because everything should work. Are you exactly set “Color Dodge” blending mode for nebula layer? If the blending mode everything is fine, then try to apply filters through Filter > Last Filter or Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. Surely set the default colors (D on keyboard) before you apply a cloud filters. Repeat steps 8 – 9 for nebula on a new layer if the problem does not go away. Make sure that you have made a colored background, otherwise Nebula did not appear. Write to me if the problem is not solved.

    1. Filling in a free and quick survey would have been much quicker than filling in this form to leave a comment and would help support the author of the tutorial who has given up their time to create this excellent walk through.

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