Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Stars and Planets Time Lapse in Photoshop

Create this loopable time-lapse animation from scratch all inside Photoshop! This tutorial will show you how to create an animated night silhouette scene with a surreal space background full of stars, galaxies, and planets.


Learn how to create a time lapse scene in Photoshop. This tutorial will teach you how to create, animate and export a night scene full of stars, planets and galaxies using only Photoshop.


Preview of Final Results


Tutorial Resources


Step 1: Create a new document

Create a new file in Photoshop (Shortcut: Ctrl/Cmd+N) using these settings:

  • Width: 1600px
  • Height: 475px
  • Resolution: 300px/inch

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Step 2: Install the brushes

In this step we’re going to install the four brushes we’re going to use in this tutorial. Download all of them and extract them to your Adobe/Adobe Photoshop(…)/Presets/Brushes folder.

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Now go back to Photoshop, select the Brush Tool (Shortcut: B) and right click anywhere in the canvas. Then click in the little arrow at the top of the brush menu (see image below).

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Then click in Load Brushes, go to the folder where you extracted them and select “Trees_by_Horhew”.

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The tree brushes will now be on the bottom of your brushes panel (Right click anywhere in the screen to see them).


Step 3: Draw the landscape

Go to View > New Guide and set the new guide position to 445px and the orientation to Horizontal.

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· If you don’t see the guide we just created, press Ctrl/Cmd+; to show your guides (or go to View > Show > Guides). Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (Shortcut: M) and make a selection of the bottom part of our image (start the selection in the bottom of the image and finish it in the guide we created).

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Now press D to return the colors of your palette to black and white, and then hit Alt/Opt+Delete to fill your selection with black.

  • You can press Ctrl/Cmd+D to deselect your selection
  • You can press Ctrl+; to hide all the guides of your project

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Before we start adding the trees, let’s make a new layer to hold them. Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Alt/Opt+N to create a new layer and name this layer ‘Trees’. Since we’re renaming layers, change the name of our first layer to ‘Border’.

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Now we’re going to start making the landscape of our animation. Press B to select the Brush Tool, and here’s how we’ll do it:

  • Make sure that black is still your foreground color
  • Make sure that your brush is set to 100% Opacity
  • You can quickly decrease or increase the size of the brush hitting ‘[‘ or ‘]’ respectively
  • To make the grass select some high trees and paint with their top part slightly above our black rectangle
  • Add 5 or 6 big trees in our project
  • Add some bushes near the trees and at other random places (you can also use them to make grass if you decrease their size)
  • Try to make some parts of the terrain higher than others

And here’s how I made my landscape, step-by-step.

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Your image doesn’t have to be exactly like mine, use your imagination and try to create a unique landscape!


Step 4: Add the Stars

Now let’s add the sky. Open the fractal stock, hit Ctrl/Cmd+A to select all of it, and then copy (Ctrl/Cmd+C) and paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V) it into our project.

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Your image should look like this now. Make sure the sky layer is above all the others

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