Create a space scene in Photoshop

In this lesson, I will show you how to create a sci-fi space scene with spaceships, planets and nebulae. You will learn how to create a background in the form of space, how to create a planet and combine all the elements of the composition using the technique of combining. You will also learn how to conduct color and contrast correction, how to create light effects and enhance the depth of field.

The final result:

1. Create a Background

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following dimensions: 3000 x 2000 px:

Colour background (background) must be black.

Step 2

Press the keys (Ctrl + Shift + N) to create a new layer. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), set a soft round brush, brush color # 8c92ae. Paint over the middle part of the black background:

Change the blending mode for this layer to Hard light (Hard Light), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

Step 3

Create a new layer and use a soft brush of different color shades to add color highlights to the image. You can use any color shades at your discretion, and do not forget that we create a color background, so use bright colors. I used the following color shades: # 378c6c, # c20707, # cf53c8.

Remember, do not fill the entire workspace with color shades – there should be areas with shading, this will give depth to the image.

Step 4

Create a new layer, change the foreground color to # 44595b and paint over the edges and corners of the work area with a soft round brush.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Hard light (Hard Light), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

Step 5

Create a new layer, press the ‘D’ key to set the default foreground / background color (black / white). Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L)), create an active selection, set the radius Feathering (feather) 60 px:

Next, go Filter – Rendering – Clouds (Filter> Render> Clouds):

Now change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening basics (Color Dodge), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

Step 6

Add adjustment layer Levels (Levels) as a clipping mask to make the effect more gentle. Let’s go Layer – New corrective layer – Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels):

Next, go to the adjustment layer mask. Levels (Levels) and with the help of a soft round black brush, restore the brightness in some parts of the image, as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 7

Duplicate the clouds layer, move the duplicate layer to the top, placing it on top of the first adjustment layer Levels (Levels). Next, go Filter – Rendering – Clouds with overlay (Filter> Render> Different Clouds):

Next, go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Apply Radius (Radius) blur 35 px:

Step 8

Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) to slightly change the resulting color scheme.

Step 9

It’s time to add stars. Create a new layer, set the foreground color to # 72c6fd. Using a hard brush, randomly draw stars, do not forget to vary the size of the brush:

Double-click on this layer and select the layer style in the window that appears. External glow (Outer Glow). Set the glow color to a white tint:

Step 10

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers to change the color of the effect:

Step 11

Open the original image with nebula. Using tool Move (Move Tool (V)), move the image with the nebula onto our working paper. Zoom in with the tool Free transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)):

Change the blending mode for the nebula layer to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

Step 12

To this layer, add a layer mask and use a soft black brush to loosen the effect so that it is subtle on the existing background:

Step 13

Add a correction layer to the nebula layer Color Balance (Color Balance) as a clipping mask to slightly change the color of the effect with the nebula:

Save the result in JPG format for further steps.

2. Create a Cosmic Background

Step 1

Create a new document with the following dimensions 2200 x 1600 px, set the background color to black. Open the space texture we just created in the first step of the lesson, and move this texture to our working paper with the tool Move (Move Tool).

Add a layer mask to the layer with the texture of the cosmos and use soft black brush to hide separate areas, keeping the texture in the middle part of the image:

Step 2

To make the middle part of the texture more visible, create a new layer and paint a specified area using a soft white brush. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

3. Add Planets

Step 1

Open the original image with the texture of the planet. Create a new layer and use the tool Stamp (Clone Tool (S)) hide the four black lines that run along and across the texture.

Step 2

Press the keys (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E) to merge the planet texture layer and the stamp layer into one new layer. Being on a merged layer using a tool Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool), create a circle. Next, go Filter – Distortion – Spherization (Filter> Distort> Spherize):

Step 3

Right-click on the selected area and in the appeared window select the option Copy to new layer (Layer via Copy). Thus, we created a separate planet on a new transparent layer (in the screenshot below, I turned off the visibility of layers with the texture of the planet, the stamp, and also the visibility of the combined layer, so that the result looked more understandable).

Step 4

Move the created planet to our working paper, zoom out the planet using Free Transform (Ctrl + T). Position the planet in the center of the image.

Step 5

To the layer with the planet, add an adjustment layer Color tone (Hue / Saturation) as a clipping mask. Reduce value Saturation (Saturation) to -87:

Step 6

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to reduce image brightness.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves around the edge of the planet to add a little light to the edges, keeping the shading in the central part of the planet.

Step 7

Next, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance). Set the following settings for Medium tones (Midtones), which are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 8

Create a new layer as a clipping mask and using a soft brush, brush color # b68fa4, paint some areas around the edge of the planet to add color to them (because we placed the planet on a colorful background). Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

Step 9

Create a new layer, change the brush color to # b6eadd. Paint over other parts of the planet with the same purpose of adding color to the edges of the planet. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light).

Step 10

Add two more planets from two sides of the main planet, these planets should be much smaller.

Step 11

Select layers with small planets, and then press the keys (Ctrl + G) to group them in one group. Change the blending mode for this layer with the group from the mode Skip (Pass through) on Normal (Normal), The layer opacity is 100%. Create a new layer on top of layers with small planets and using a soft black brush. Opacity (Opacity) approximately 70–80%, draw shadows at the bottom of these planets.

Step 12

Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Reduce value Saturation (Saturation) to -86.

Step 13

Next, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) to change the color of small planets.

4. Create the Primary Light and add the Base Color.

Step 1

We will add color to the planets, and also add more light to the cosmos. Create a new layer on top of the layer with a group of small planets and using a soft brush, brush color # b6eadd, paint over the top center of the scene. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%.

Step 2

Create a new layer and use a soft brush, brush color # b68fa4, paint over the upper part of a large planet, and then change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%.

Step 3

Create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers to enhance the brightness.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves in the lower part of the planets and space, because these areas are hidden from light.

5. Add Space Ships

Step 1

Open source image with space ships. Select three ships that have the same direction, and then add them to our working paper. Duplicate the ships, turn the duplicate with the ships towards the big planet. The closer to the foreground, the larger the ship should be.

Step 2

Group the layers with space ships, change the blending mode for the layer with the merged group to Normal (Normal), Opacity (Opacity) 100%. Inside the created group, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce the saturation of the color of the spacecraft.

Step 3

Apply adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) to add some blue / blue to the spacecraft.

Step 4

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to darken the spacecraft.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and using a soft black brush, hide the blackout correction at the top of the ships, because the upper parts should be lighter than the lower ones:

Step 5

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to add more light to the upper parts of the ships.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves in the lower part of the ships in order to preserve shading in these areas:

Step 6

Create a new layer and use a soft white brush to add light highlights to separate parts of the spacecraft. Change the blending mode for the layer with highlights to Overlap (Overlay), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%.

6. Add Asteroids

Step 1

Open the original image with asteroids. Select several asteroids, and then add them to our working paper, placing them around a large planet, duplicate and transform them if necessary, make them much smaller than the planets themselves. Turn the asteroids on the bright side towards the light.

Step 2

Additionally, add asteroids to the lower right and left corner of our space scene, increase them, making them larger than existing asteroids. Blur them to add some depth to the scene, for this, apply a filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), radius (Radius) blur 8 px to each of these layers with large asteroids.

Step 3

Group all the layers with asteroids. Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) so that the color of the asteroids matches other elements:

Step 4

Create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to reduce the brightness of the asteroids:

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and using a soft black brush, hide the curve correction to restore the bright areas on the asteroids:

Step 5

Create another adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to add more light to the astroids.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush, hide the correction curves to keep the shading in the bottom of the asteroids, hidden from light.

7. Add Lights to Spaceships and Fire Tails

Step 1

Create a new layer. Choose hard brush, brush color # eebde2. Draw small dots to recreate the lights on the spacecraft. The larger the ship, the greater the lights will be.

Step 2

To create a glowing tail, which we often see in pictures of space, create a new layer and using a soft brush, color the brush (# 7b3e51), paint a spot on the image. Reduce the size of the brush, set a lighter shade of the brush (# d69e96), now put a dot in the center of the painted spot.

Transform this light effect layer into a smart object, and then press the keys (Ctrl + T) to change the perspective and make it look like a tail. Place the created fire plume in the tail of the ship:

Step 3

Duplicate the fiery effect layer several times by adding this fire plume to the rest of the ships.

Step 4

Create a new layer, set the blending mode for this layer to Lightening basics (Color Dodge), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%. Using a soft brush, the color of the brush # eebde2, paint over the bright areas of the fire plumes at the tail end of the ships.

8. Final correction

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers to brighten the whole scene, in particular, the upper central part of the image:

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush, hide the correction of the curves on the sides, as well as in the shaded part of a large planet, to give a beautiful contrast to the final effect.

Congratulations! We have completed the lesson!

Thank you for being with me until the end of the lesson. Hope you learned something new today. I will be glad to see your work. I wish you a pleasant time working with Photoshop!

The final result:

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