Posted by: keystonelemur | November 18, 2008

Space Art 101 -Nebulae

Nebulae Tutorial

1. Intro

If you haven’t already you need to check out my earlier tutorial on Star Fields, if anything you can consider this part 2 because so much of nebulae are built upon your star field.

2. Starting Out

Create a new document ( 500 x 500 ) and fill it with black, repeat the steps used in the Star Field tutorial or if you wish to use the same file. I’ll create an action to do this and upload it later.
After you have the Star Field ready you already have a very basic dust nebula. You can stop there but if you want a more detailed nebula keep reading.

3. Onwards!

Duplicate the star field and use Filter >Render >Difference Clouds and hit Ctrl +F at least 10 times or until you get a nice division. On the layers window there is a Circle half black and half white, click on it and select Gradient Map.

4. Some more color

Pick the default gradient composed of Blue Red and Yellow (See pic) and set its mode to Reverse. Tad bit of a wakeup call on that one. Make a new layer above it and use Filter > Render > Clouds and find something you like. Set the mode to Multiply. Merge the layers and hit Ctrl + U and set Saturation to -50.

Render some difference clouds again, 5 clicks should do. Make a new Gradient map and use the Default Orange Yellow Orange (pic) and set the mode to Soft Light. Take the layer below it and set mode to overlay.

Merge all layers, duplicate and use a Gaussian Blur of 3 px and set the mode to either Screen or Color Dodge depending on preference.

5. Optional

Create a gradient map and use whatever gradient with more than one color and try Soft Light, Screen, Color, Linear Dodge, Color Dodge, and Hue. Also play with Color Balance. What I have after tweaking:

We now have a more advanced dust nebula; color tweaking is very much an option, play with different gradient maps and the Hue Saturation tool.

6. Cold hard reality

Now some people might be wondering how in the devil some of the advanced artists can manage to do such unique and far ranging nebulae. The answer is about 5 Hours or more of hard work and using a default brush and painting it.

This may be something I cover later, but only if I get enough comments requesting me to do so, leave a comment or email me at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: