In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a winter night landscape featuring a northern sky. You will learn how to combine different stocks together and blend them correctly to make a cohesive scene. You’ll also learn how to create lighting effect, work with group and more.

Preview of Final Results


Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document with size of 1300×800 px and fill it with white (feel free to use your own size and color). Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new layer. Hit G to active Gradient Tool, choose Radial Gradient with color #022240 and #093b62. Drag a line from the top to bottom to get result below:


Step 2

Open star background pack. I choose “starry 1” and use Move Tool (V) to drag it into our canvas and change the mode to Color Dodge 100%:


Step 3

To change color of some stars I use an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask. On stars layer, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Channel Mixer:


You can see some stars redder:


Step 4

Place aurora image onto the sky and change the mode to Screen 100%:


Click the second button at the bottom of Layer panel to add mask to this layer. Use soft black brush with low opacity (around 20%) to reduce some light on aurora sky. You can see how I did it on the mask and result on picture:


Step 5

Duplicate this layer, flip it horizontally (Edit-Transform-Flip Horizontal) and move to the right.


Use layer mask to remove hard edges and blend it with the rest:


Step 6

To edit all aurora layers together, make all of them selected then press Cmd/Ctrl+G to make a group. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Screen 100% (it’s very important to keep the effect the same as before grouping). Make a new Curves layer within this group (above all aurora layers):


Because the mode changed to Screen 100% so this Curves layer only affects the layers inside this group (aurora ones).


Step 7

To enhance sky light I make a new layer and use Rectangular Marquee Tool to make a selection on sky part. Use soft brush with two colors (#f79ead,#acbbc5) to paint on the edges of this selection as shown below:


Convert this layer to Smart Object. Go to Filter-Blur-Motion Blur:

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11 responses to “Create a Vivid Winter Aurora Landscape”

  1. Iain Avatar

    Nice article for those people who wants to learn more about photoshop…

  2. wilson Avatar


  3. saji Avatar

    nice tutorial … thanks

  4. saji Avatar


  5. wendy Avatar

    photoshop is amazing =)

    1. Christiana Paul Avatar
      Christiana Paul

      just awesome thanks for nice tut.

  6. Umar Langa Avatar
    Umar Langa

    I agree with Chaser

  7. Chaser Avatar

    OMG!! What a humongous polar bear!

    Not bad for a tut but you need to learn perspective… unless you intentionally decided to make a dinosaur-sized polar bear.

    1. I am smart, s m r t Avatar
      I am smart, s m r t

      It’s intentional… ?

      A polar bear in that distance will be a 1 pixel dot.

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