Space battle scene in Photoshop

In this lesson, I will show you how to create a space scene with spaceships, planets and a galaxy. You will learn how to create a composition of the elements of space, as well as to ensure that all elements are correctly combined. You will also learn how to create different lighting effects, how to work with groups, brushes, masks and much more.

Final result

Source materials:

Step 1

Create a new document, fill it with white. Set the width to slightly larger than the height. Create a new layer, press G to activate the tool. Radial gradient (Gradient Tool). Set the gradient colors to # 000a18 and # 53657d.

Step 2

Open the stock image of the Planet. Turn off the visibility of the layer with a black background, and then press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to merge all the transparent layers together. The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Using tool Move (Move Tool (V), move the image of the planet to our working paper. Position the image of the planet at the bottom of our composition.

Double-duplicate the image of the planet, then apply the transformation (Ctrl + T) to reduce the scale of duplicate planets. Place duplicate planets in the corners of our composition.

Name the layer with the largest planet, for example, “Planet 1”, and the remaining planets are smaller, respectively, “Planet 2”, ”Planet 3”. On the “Planet 2” layer, go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur), set the blur radius 2 px.

Go to the “Planet 3” layer, press Ctrl + F to apply the same filter. Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) to the layer with the planet.

Step 3

Merge all the layers with the planets into one group (select all the layers with the planets, and then press the Ctrl + G keys) to make it easier to color the planets. Next, change the blending mode for the created group c mode Skip (Pass Through) to mode Normal (Normal), opacity is 100%.

Next, we will conduct a color correction of the planets using corrective layers. Being on the topmost layer inside the group with the planets, we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance).

Since we changed the blending mode for a group with planets to a mode Normal (Normal), opacity 100%, then adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) will affect only the layers located within the group (only the planets).

I want to slightly enhance the contrast of Planet 1, so let’s create a new layer on top of the “Planet 1” layer, and in the window that appears, check the box Use previous layer to create clipping mask. (Use previous layer to create Clipping mask) and on this layer apply Linear gradient (Linear Gradient) default (black and white gradient).

Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity 100%, and then to this layer, add a layer mask. Using a soft black brush, hide and weaken the dark contrast on some parts of the planet where we have just applied a gradient. Pay attention to my layer mask in the screenshot where I applied the brush.

Step 4

Open the stock image Galactic Nebula. Move this image to our working paper, position the nebula layer below the group with the planets. I used only part of the nebula image.

Copy a part of the image with a nebula, placing the copied part on the right side of the composition.

I used a layer mask to create a smooth transition with the rest of the images.

Name these layers “Nebula 1” and “Nebula 2”.

Step 5

Merge the layers with the nebula into one group, just like you did with the planets, don’t forget to change the blending mode for the layer with the group to Normal (Normal), opacity is 100%. Next, I applied adjustment layers to match the color of the nebula with the color of the entire composition.

Curves (Curves)

Color Balance (Color Balance)

Step 6

Open the stock image Starry sky. Move this image to our working paper. Place a layer with a starry sky above the group with a nebula, but below the group with planets. Apply scaling to the sky as shown in the screenshot below.

Change the blending mode for the starry layer to Lightening (Screen), layer opacity 50%.

Duplicate the starry sky layer; move the duplicate layer to the right side of the composition. Using a layer mask, create a smooth transition at the edges of the image.

Step 7

Move the stock image of the Milky Way to our working paper, place the layer with the image of the Milky Way on top of all layers. Reduce the size of the image. Place the Milky Way in the center of our composition.

Change the blending mode for the starry layer to Lightening (Screen), layer opacity is 100%. Using a layer mask, remove unwanted areas.

Create a new layer. Set the foreground color to white. Select Brushes Space Elements (Milky Way Brush # 1262 or any other brush of your choice), using the selected brush, draw a galaxy or Milky Way, as shown in the screenshot below.

Press Ctrl + T to change the direction of the Milky Way and align with the galactic nebula.

To this layer, add a layer mask and further, using a soft black brush, hide unwanted areas.

Step 8

Open again the image with galactic nebula. Copy a part of the image, and then, move the copied part of the image to our working document, apply the transformation Ctrl + T, and then select the option Deformation (Warp), for this we go Editing – Transformation – Deformation (Edit-Transform-Warp) and warp the image as shown in the screenshot below.

Reduce the layer opacity to 50% and using a layer mask, create a smooth transition at the edges of the image.

Name this layer “center of the milky way”. To this layer, apply the adjustment layer as a clipping mask to colorize the rest of the galaxy (see step 3 if you forgot how to create a new layer as a clipping mask).

Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves).

Step 9

Select the image of the spacecraft, then move the selected image of the spacecraft to our working document. Reduce the size of the ship by placing it in the foreground, as shown in the screenshot below.

Name this layer with the ship “spaceship 1”. Duplicate the ship layer three times, apply scaling and transformation to different directions in duplicates. Arrange the ships along the edges of the composition, name the layers with the ships “spaceship 2” to “spaceship 4”.

Combine all layers with ships in one group. To the “spaceship 1” layer, add a new layer as a clipping mask and then, using a soft black brush, darken the bottom of the ship. Change the mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity is 100%.

Inside the group with comic ships, create a new adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) on top of all layers to change the color of the spacecraft.

Step 10

I strive to make the main source of light come from the galaxy, so the spacecraft must reflect the received light. I added a reflection to the ships using Inner shadow (Inner Shadow). Right click on each spacecraft layer to activate Overlay options (blending options).

Pay attention to the direction of the light and the opacity of the light, because All ships are located at different points and at different distances from the light source. Result after adding layer styles.

Inside the group with comic ships, create a new layer on top of all layers. Choose a soft white brush and using this brush, paint over the upper part of the spacecraft 2 and 3, because I think they should be a little bit lighter. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (soft Light), opacity 50%.

Step 11

Since Asteroid has a transparent background image, then you just need to use the tool Move (Move Tool), move this asteroid image to our working paper. Duplicate the asteroid three times, apply scaling and transformation to duplicates, placing the asteroids along the edges of the image.

To prevent the asteroids image from repeating, I added a layer mask to some layers with asteroids and using a hard black brush (brush hardness of about 90-95%), remove some asteroids (do not use a soft brush because it leaves soft unnatural edges ).

For each layer with an asteroid, I applied the layer styles option Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) to add lighting effects to them.

Step 12

Combine all layers with asteroids in one group. Asteroids still look too dark, so for each layer with an asteroid, I added a correction layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) to reduce the contrast of asteroids.

On top of all layers within the asteroid group, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to change their color.

Step 13

In the next steps we will add traces from the spacecraft. Create a new layer on top of all layers. Choose a tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal lasso) to create a selection at the bottom of the spacecraft 1, as shown in the screenshot below, set the feathering value to 3.

Fill the selection with color # 81cafa, then use a layer mask or eraser to shape the tail, as shown in the screenshot below.

Duplicate the ship’s tail three times, place duplicate layers next to each spacecraft. Do not forget to change the scale and direction so that each individual trail approaches its own separate ship.

Name these layers from “trace 1” to ”trace 4”.

Step 14

Create a new layer. Choose a soft brush, the color of the brush is the same (# 81cafa). Paint over the center of each trace and then change the mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), opacity 100%.

Create another new layer. Choose a soft white brush and small size. Paint it as shown in the screenshot below, and then change the mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), opacity 100%.

Create another new layer. Choose a soft white brush and a larger diameter. Paint it as shown in the screenshot below to create a glow effect on the tails of the spacecraft. Reduce the layer opacity to 50%.

Step 15

To move the light point to the middle part, create a new layer, then select Radial Gradient (Radiant Gradient). On the new layer, draw a black and white radial gradient.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (soft Light), opacity 100%.

Finally, I added an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) to add more blues to the whole image.

Final result:

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