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Design a Space Cloud Starry Fantasy Scene with Photoshop

Sorry for the long delay in posts! It’s been a busy month. This article is a tutorial for how to create the following fantasy scene in Photoshop. You can use these techniques in a bunch of different ways from within a web interface design, to my example which is a wallpaper that I created as a Valentine’s Day gift to my fiance Candy.



So, here is our end result. Obviously you don’t need to make a Valentine’s Day themed design. Changing that red is as easy as just changing the color of a gradient on a single layer, so you can make it blue, green. . . whatever you’d like!

Make the rock in the sky thing

First off, we’re going to go ahead and start with the planet. I drew inspiration for this project from a few different places, and one of them has a tutorial by dinyctis on deviantART for the planet that this design requires. There’s really no reason for me to re-write what he already did a great job on doing, so go on, make your planet! Come back here when you’re all finished with it. If you are looking for some stone textures for it, here are a couple places you can take a look at: 2textured, CGTextures, Amazing Textures, and Textures. I did add a layer mask to my planet layer in order to fade out the bottom left corner of it a little more (as well as to allow one cloud layer to show up in front of the planet instead of behind it).

Our first few layers

Ok, so stick that planet somewhere on a new Photoshop document. Resolution settings etc. are all up to you depending on what media you are using this for. I created this design at 1680×1050 so it could fit a 16:10 ratio screen. For your bottom background layer, pick a dark grey or black since this will more than likely be a dark spacey theme, I chose #292929. Next, we’re going to create some rays. I used a white sunburst brush from Dezignus a couple of times, coming from the top right corner, and just transformed + distorted them to make it look a little more random. Add a layer mask to that layer by clicking the layer mask button on the bottom of the layer’s palette, and use a black-to-white radial gradient causing the ends of the rays to fade off. Also, I’d drop down the opacity of that layer, 10% should be good. Here is what you should be looking at so far:

Next you’ll want to create your color overlay layer, so that you can see how everything will look while you’re using the next couple of brushes. Just create a new layer above the others (but below the planet), and create a linear gradient that runs from one corner of the screen to the opposite. This gradient is what will set the feel for your piece and determine the majority of color that you see. For mine I only used 3 colors, a dark red (#5f0c0d) to a lighter red (#941919) in the middle to an ever darker red (#4d0909), but you can play with it however you’d like. Set this layer’s display mode to “overlay”.

Clouds! Big fluffy marshmallows in the sky

This is where I had the most fun doing this piece. To learn how you can create your own cloud brush within Photoshop, please follow Abduzeedo’s Fluffy Clouds tutorial. Make sure to read the whole section that talks about the cloud brush, but you don’t really have to read anything else. Once you have your brush ready, jump back over here. Got it? Good, let’s play with it. Place this layer below your color overlay. To create the cloud effect I used, you have to click and click with a white brush just like the abduzeedo tutorial tells you to, until you get the appearance that you want (don’t click and drag). On that same layer, I also threw in some black clouds at the top of my white ones. Also, create a clipping mask of this layer (right click on your cloud layer and select “add clipping mask”) and use a black cloud brush on the lower parts of the white clouds to give them a contrasting appearance. For my piece, I also created another 10% opacity layer below this one and using a white cloud brush threw in some clouds that went behind the planet and in random places around the piece. Right now, you should be about here:

The clouds are really what make it unique, so take some time to get them the way you want them!

A starry night

To add some detail and texture to our piece, we need some glowies! I used Star Field Brushes by ~BL1nX. I have two layers of stars; one above the color overlay layer, and one below it (this equals red and white stars, and also helps create some depth). Sprinkle these lightly throughout your design, then place in oven at 450°F. Just kidding, please don’t cook your computer.

The title

In order to create the title, I started with the font 23rd Street Demo Version. The only styles I applied to the font was a 2px stroke with a blending mode of overlay and a white to white gradient that went from 0% to 100% opacity. I used and slightly modified a heart from one of Vecteezy’s free downloads. For the black swirlies behind and around the text, I used a combination of brushes from the Flower Ornament Brushes by ~archnophobia set. This is placed on a layer below the text and heart, and in order to make it appear in front of these items, place more layer masks on both the text and heart. Now, CTRL+Click (sorry Mac users, I can’t remember the shorcut) on your swirls layer and then make sure you have one of the layer masks selected, and then use a black hard brush to fill in the spots where you want the swirls to appear as if they are coming over top of the text/heart. Woohoo for the appearance of depth! The image to the right shows how your layers should have all lined up at the end of it.

Wa-la! What a sweet pic you just created, eh? I know I excluded a lot of minute details and pictures, so if you have any questions on how I achieved any specific effects, please post here in the comments and let me know! I will most definitely get back to you within a day or two. On an unrelated note, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed because in a few days I will be hosting a giveaway of one thousand free business cards, courtesy of UPrinting!

7 Comments
  1. thanks for the advice. You should add a few more examples of this if you can. It seems like a nice idea and can be useful.

  2. Thanks for sharing this post. It is very informative and can be a great help.

  3. Yo muchos gracis for the last cool entry. That is extremely heart felt.

  4. Logo Design says:

    great work. can you please upload some more for references?

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