Posted by: keystonelemur | November 17, 2008

Space Art 101 – Star Fields

Stars tutorial

Previously I have explained how to create realistic planets in photoshop, now it’s time to learn how to make a star-field in ANY version of photoshop with no drawbacks whatsoever.

Shall we?

Starting with Black
I figure since God started with a black canvas why not us, eh? Make a new file of 500 x 500 resolution, any size will do if you feel like experimenting, the effect is the same.
Adding Noise
Take out a brush and… No, I wouldn’t do THAT to you, that’d be inhuman. Check out the Filters menu and go to Noise > Add Noise. Set it to Gaussian and check the monocrome option. Typically you will want anywhere from 25 to 50% noise, it’s a personal preference but for the most part go with 40%.
Brightness / Contrast
There are two ways of thinning out the stars, levels or brightness/contrast. In Brightness and Contrast it’s far quicker, just set the Brightness extremely low and set the Contrast high. Again it’s up to you to decide what you think looks right, for the sake of the tutorial I used -150 +100.

Duplicate the layer and apply a Gaussian Blur (3 px.) Now hit Ctrl + U (Hue / Saturation) and check the box labeled colorize. Go for any color, blue is used here. (250 Hue – 80 Sat – 0 Light). Set the layer mode to screen.

Time to take down the amount of stars here, merge visible using Ctrl + E. Duplicate the Background layer. Make a new layer and go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Hit Ctrl + F until you get something you like. Now open levels and use the following settings : (70 – 0.43 – 208). Set the layer mode to Multiply, if you like the effect then duplicate and set the mode to color dodge to add some brightness to the remaining stars.
Now let’s get some larger stars in there to brighten it up a bit. Merge Visible again with Ctrl + E. Make a new layer, fill it with black and go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Use the Eliptical (Circle) select tool, holding shift select the center of the Flare and use Filter > Blur > Radial Blur at 100% spin. Hit Ctrl + J and delete the other layer.
Radial Blur

Set the new layers mode to color dodge and transform the flare to be much smaller and liberally use the duplicate and transform function, just remember that larger stars are normally in the already bright areas.


You now have a star field to use with your planet, have fun and experiment some with the tutorial, do it over with a different color or try a higher noise percent, feel free to do whatever.


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