Thanks go out to Sebastien Hue, AKA Shue13 for this Photoshop tutorial. See more at www.shue-digital.com
Get all the tutorial files for this tutorial at https://blog.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/tutorial-files/tutorial-files-issue-106/
01: Sketch your Composition
It’s always good to figure out a good composition by sketching your idea in several layers. Try to remain flexible throughout the process and play around with your elements, especially any included planets. Use a hard round brush with Brush Presets>Shape Dynamics activated to vary the opacity control of your Pen Pressure. Outline your composition roughly in greyscale, including the main elements and then define the scale, depth and light.
02: Add in a Planet
Create a new layer at 4,000 x 4,000px 300dpi with a black solid background, then define the centre of your document by applying two guides (see the example). We’ve imported and used the high-definition texture file fontenellefire_ali_2012186_lrg.jpg from http://visibleearth.nasa.gov. Hold Shift+Opt/Alt and apply the Elliptical Marquee tool from the centre to the border to get a perfect circle. Apply Filter>Distort>Spherize twice, at 100%.
03: Apply a 3D Effect
Add a vector mask to create a textured circle, then add a new layer and apply a horizontal gradient from right to left, with a black-to-transparent style. Next, highlight the left borders with your selection still active and use a soft white brush to simulate a horizon lighting effect.
With your selection still active, create a new solid black layer above your planet layer, set to Screen blending mode. Add a cyan (#bbe6f2) Inner Shadow Layer Style at 40% Opacity, with Distance set to 40px, Size at around 250px and Angle at 170 degrees. Next, apply a bluish Outer Glow at 65% Opacity, with a Size of 50px and a Range of 55%. Finally add a bluish Inner Glow at 75% Opacity, with Size between 100 and 120px.
04: Pick your Colour Scheme
Create a new document at 2,950 x 3,800px 300dpi or higher with a solid black background, then activate the Lasso tool to make a selection as shown. Select colours from bright to dark, creating a spectrum in the Gradient Editor. In our example we’ve applied Color Stops using #ffffff, #d599d8, #5a8eaa and #37667c. Apply this gradient to your selection from the centre at an angle then deselect and apply a Gaussian Blur. You can use this same method for other similar selections.
05: Create Shapes using Stock
Import the supplied ‘Jordan_Marble_texture.jpg’ and invert it (Cmd/Ctrl+I) to create a nice contrast and a green tone. You can do this with any texture to reveal interesting shapes when inverted. Continue to play with your Levels adjustment layer to define the texture’s contrast, then apply a Soft Light or Overlay blending mode between 50% and 60% to this layer. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and transform the texture with the Warp tool to match the contours you made earlier. Again, experiment with the form to produce results that emphasise your focal point and reveal interesting shapes for the nebula you are constructing.
06: Emphasise relevant details
When you have achieved satisfying results, duplicate your texture, hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and de-scale towards the focal point of your choice – this should produce more depth and detail. Create smooth transitions by softly erasing the textures and elements created in Step 4, using applied vector masks.
Apply a black-to-transparent gradient or a soft brush on these masks to emphasise relevant details. Feel free to paint highlights and shadows on a new layer to define your nebula textures further.
To be continued…