How to Make a Planet in Photoshop

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2014

Published In: Tutorials

Written by:

Share:

planet-tutorial-wide

Making planets in Photoshop is one of the few things I can say I’ve figured out how to do fairly well, quickly, and easily. In this tutorial I will show you exactly the steps I take to make a planet using only a photo of some kind of texture as a starting point. I’m not saying this way might be the best or most efficient but its a process I’ve figured out over the years that has given me results that I need and has suited me well.

There is lots of room for deviation from this initial way of doing things. Feel free to mess around with effects and stuff as you go along. This tutorial is meant to teach you some techniques I’ve picked up so you can apply these to other things you may create in the future. Below you’ll find a link to a texture you can use so you can follow along with me. Or you can use a photo of your own texture too.

Just so you’re clear, this is what you’ll be creating.

112

Download Texture

Ok now lets begin!

01. Setting Up The Page

So the first thing we’re going to do is drop in the image into Photoshop. You can do that by clicking and dragging the image right onto the Photoshop icon.

Once you do that, your canvas should look something like this.

001

You’ll notice the canvas looks a bit rectangular. What we need this to be is a square. So the next thing we’re going to do is crop the canvas to be a perfect square with the texture covering the whole art board.

To do this, go up to Image > Canvas Size to bring up trimming options.
Or press opt + cmd + C on Mac or ctrl + alt + C on PC.

002

You should then see that the canvas is set to 3264(w) x 2448(h).

003

Now we need this to be equally the same size on all four sides so in order to do that, we must take the smallest size, which in this case is the height, and apply it to the width. So select the width and plug in 2448 and hit OK.

004

Your page should now look like this.

004_2

Last thing we’ll do is convert this layer to a background. To do that, go to your layers panel and right click on the layer Background and select Layer from Background.

005

02. Creating The Sphere

Now that we have the layer set as a free layer, next thing to do is give this texture a spherical shape.

So what you need to do is go up to the top menu and select Filter > Distort > Spherize

006

You should get this little modal window. Since we want this to be a full sphere shape, make sure the amount is set to 100% and the Model is set to Normal. Once your sphere looks like this one, go ahead and hit OK.

007

Cool, so now we have ourselves a spherized texture but we have all this excess flat texture around it on each corner. What we now need to do is clip this layer to an ellipse shape layer. I’ll explain what layer clipping is shortly but for now we need to set up the ellipse.

If you go to your tools you should see this near the bottom right. These are your layer shapes. By default its usually set to the rectangle tool but if you click and hold on the icon, you get this little click menu with the other kinds of shapes. Go to the third one down and select the Ellipse Tool. Another way to select any of these tools is by pressing U on your keyboard to select the Rectangle Tool. You can then hold down shift + U to toggle through them.

008

One of the most important things in design is to get your alignments right. If you’re working on something that is dependent upon having to be proportionately aligned, then the Rulers will become one of your best friends. To access it, go up to your top menu and select View > Rulers or by pressing command + R on Mac and ctrl + R on PC.

009_1

You should now see two rulers on your page. One on the left and top of your canvas frame. The cool thing about Rulers is that they let you create either vertical or horizontal guides for yourself that allow you to align stuff to them or to, as the name implies, use them as guides for your design.

Lets start with making a vertical guide. But before we do, lets first make sure that Snapping is turned on. Go up to View > Snap and make sure it has a little check mark on it. If it doesn’t, click on it to turn it on.

09_2

To create a guide, you’ll need to first place your cursor over the left ruler.

010

Then you’re going to click + hold + drag out to the right.

011

Keep holding it and drag it out to right around the center of the canvas. Since Snapping is turned on, keep moving around the center of the canvas until the guide sticks. Once it sticks, let go of the cursor.

012

You should now have a light green line going through the center of the canvas.

Now that we have our vertical guide set up, we need to make a horizontal center guide.

So click on the top ruler and drag down to the middle of the page again until it sticks. Then let go of the cursor.

013 014_1

Before we move on, we need to make one more vertical guide that we’ll be using as a snap point when you create the ellipse.

So click and drag on the left ruler and drag it out to the far right edge of the canvas and let go when it sticks.

014_2

After your guides have been set up, we need to start setting up the ellipse tool. You should still have the ellipse tool selected. if not, just refer above to get it back.

Once you have your ellipse tool, go up near the top of the page just under the top menu but above the ruler. You should see some options and a little button with a gear on it. Click on it and this little menu should open up. There a few options here but we need to set this to create a perfectly proportional ellipse from the center. So make these settings are selected.

015

Once thats set up, place your cursor right in the dead-center of the canvas where the two guides intersect.

016

Click and start dragging down to the bottom right corner.

017

Don’t let go until the cursor snaps to the right most guide. (Note that the height and width of the ellipse matches the height and width of the document size we messed with earlier.)

018

Once you let go, your page should look something like this. If your ellipse is black or any other color, it doesn’t matter. We won’t be needing the color on the sphere at all anyway.

19_1

So now if you take a look at your Layers panel, your layers should look something like this. We need to move the Ellipse 1 layer below Layer 0 in order to create a clipping mask by clipping Layer 0 to the Ellipse 1 layer.

019_2

What layer clipping does is it non-destructively trims a layer and its pixels to the the shape or pixels of the layer its clipping to. Which, in this case, has to be the layer underneath it. So what we will be doing is clipping the round part of our texture, which is in the center, to the shape of the Ellipse layer, which is also aligned to the center.

First, click and hold the Ellipse 1 layer and drag it underneath Layer 0.

020

Your layers panel should now look like this.

021

Next thing we’ll do is set the top texture layer to clip to the shape of the Ellipse layer. To do this, move your cursor in between the two layers and hold down the opt key until your cursor turns to this.

022

Once you get that cursor, click and the texture layer should now be clipped to the Ellipse layer.

023

You should now have something like this.

024

03. Adjusting The Background

So now we have something that should kind of start looking like a planet. The next few steps should start to make this planet come to life.

Next thing we’re going to do is just give a bit more breathing room to the canvas. If you look over at your tools panel, you should see this funny looking tool named the Crop tool. Click on it to select it. You can also access it by pressing C on your keyboard.

025

Once selected, if you look over to the top of the page, you’ll notice a few setting have now showed up. We want to keep the square shape of the canvas so click into this drop down and select 1 x 1 (Square)

026

You should now see the canvas has a grid over it with some handles on every corner.

027

Click on one of those corners and just drag it out away from the canvas. It doesn’t matter what size you choose here. Just something bigger than the canvas’ current size.

028

Now that the canvas is bigger, Lets go in add a black background to this. If you go over to your layers panel, you’ll notice at the very bottom there are some buttons, click on the 2nd from the right. That button is the Create a New Layer button.

029

You should now have a new layer at the top named Layer 1

030

Next thing we need do is move it to the very bottom. So click and drag the layer to the bottom.

031 032

Now we need to grab the Paint Bucket tool. So go over to your Tools panel and select the Paint Bucket, or by hitting G or shift + G to toggle between the Paint Bucket and Gradient tools.

033

Once you made sure you selected the Paint Bucket tool, go the the bottom of the Tool panel and you’ll notice two overlapping boxes filled with color. These are called color swatches. We need the swatch in front to be filled with black. The easiest way to do this is to press D on your keyboard. This automatically defaults your colors to black and white. Alternatively, if black and white was already there, except the other way around, you could just hit X to exchange the swatches. Try it out.

034

So once we have black set as our foreground color, make sure you still have Layer 1 selected. With the Paint Bucket still active, click into the background and your page should now looks something like this.

035

04. Layer Adjustments

Ok so this is where we start to get into some organization of layers. First thing we’ll do is select the Ellipse layer and the texture layer. To do this, click on the Ellipse layer.

036

While the Ellipse layer is selected, hold down the shift key and click on the texture layer.

037

Once you have both layers selected, you’re going to group these layers together by hitting command + G on Mac or ctrl + G on PC.

038

Next we’re going to rename this group. So double click into where it says Group 1 and name this group planet

039

Now we’re going to apply a layer mask to this group. To do this, open up the group you just created and find your texture layer. Click on it and hold down the option key while clicking on its thumbnail.

040

At this point your page should look something like this.

041

Now that you have the shape of the Ellipse layer loaded up, click on the group layer you created named planet to select it. Now go down to the bottom of your layers panel and look near the left side find the Layer Mask button. Click on it.

042

Your layer group should now look like this.

043

Next thing we’re going to do is duplicate your Ellipse layer by clicking on it to select it.

044

Then, while holding down the option key, click and hold the layer and drag it up right above your texture layer.

045

Your page should now look like this.

046

So now while still selected on the new Ellipse layer you just created, go right above on the right where it says Fill .

047

Change that value to 0%

048

Your page should pretty much look the same as it did before this step.

049

05. Adding The Atmosphere

Next thing we are going to do is add in the atmosphere. To do this, double-click on your top Ellipse layer and you should get a pop-up menu on your screen. Find the option Inner Glow on the left side and click into it. Click that little color box under Structure and change the HEX color to #53a0e7. Then, change the rest of the settings to match these.

051

Once you made your edits, click OK. Then look over to you layers panel and select the top group layer named planet and double-click on it.

053

You should now see the same pop-up box as before. Instead this time we’ll be clicking on Outer Glow. In the same fashion as before, click on the little color box and change the HEX color to #267075. Now go and make sure all these settings match yours.

054

Your planet should now be looking like this.

055

06. Directional Lighting

At this point, most of the hard work is already done. This is where the fun starts to happen. In this step we’re going to start adding in some directional lighting to make the planet look more believable.

First thing we’ll do is load up the selection of the layer mask on the planet group. If you remember, we need to click on the layer then option click on the layer’s thumbnail in the layers panel.

056 057

Next thing we’ll do is select the Gradient tool. So go to your tools panel and if you remember when we used the Paint Bucket tool, if you click and hold the icon the gradient tool should reveal itself. The other way to access it is by pressing shift + G until you toggle through to the gradient tool.

058_1

Once selected, make sure that your foreground color is set to black by looking down at your color swatches.

058_2

Next thing is to set up the way the gradient will generate. We need to make it go from black to transparent. To open up the gradient options, at the top left of your page you should see this box with a default gradient that goes from black to white.

058_3

Click on it and a pop-up box should now be on your screen. By default the gradient tool is set to Foreground to Background. We need this to be Foreground to Transparent so click the second gradient box to the left and click OK.

058_4

Now that that is set up, we need to convert the planet group into a Smart Object so applying the gradient to it will much cleaner. First close the group.

060

Then to the right of the layer, right click and this menu should pop-up. Click on Convert to Smart Object.

061

Your group should now be a layer on its own.

062

Next thing we’ll do is load up the selection of the planet to create a new layer mask. So hold down option and click on the thumbnail to load the selection.

063_1

Then click on the Layer Mask button at the bottom of the layers panel.

063_2

Now we need to load the selection of the new layer mask so hold down option and click the thumbnail of the Layer Mask.

064

The reason we need to do this is to keep the gradient we are going to make within the confines of the round selection we made.

So make sure you still have the gradient tool selected and that your current layer selection is on the thumbnail of the Layer Mask. Make sure you see the white corners on the Layer Mask. If they’re not there, just click on the thumbnail of the layer mask.

065

With those selections in mind, go up to the top left of the planet and click + drag down to the bottom right of the planet. You should see a line through the planet as you do this.

066

Once you let go, you should get something like this.

067

If you choose to do so, you can repeat this a few more times but its really up to you.

068

07. Adjusting Color

Here is where we start to bring this planet to life (or not) and give it some color. To start, we are going to open up the Smart Object we created earlier by double-clicking on the layer thumbnail.

070

You should now see something like this.

071

So the first thing we’ll do is to start by adding some layer adjustments to it. So open up your Adjustments panel and click on the Gradient icon on the bottom right.

072

So now we want to edit the gradient a bit more that we did last time around. So click into the big gradient box and you should get the same pop-up you got last time.

073 075

I have a few custom gradients I like to work with, feel free to mess around and make your own colors to fit how you want your planet to look.

076 077

Now once you’ve got your planet colored to your liking, we’re going to now move the adjustment layer that was just created into the planet group.

079 080

Next thing is to mess with the Curves. So open up your Adjustments panel and select the third icon from the left and adjust the settings to your liking or match these.

082 083

Next we can mess with the Hue/Saturation a bit. Go to the Adjustments panel again and select the first icon on the second row. And again, feel free to mess with the settings yourself or match these.

084 085

08. Moving Layer Styles

Now we are going to do some shifting around of layer styles. Since the layer styles are currently on two separate layers, we are going to move them to one layer, copy them, remove them from that layer, then paste them onto another layer.

It’s pretty easy to do this. First you’ll notice that under the Ellipse layer it says Inner Glow.

086

What we are going to do is click on that name and drag it up to the top planet group.

087

Now both of layer styles should be on one single layer.

088

Now we want to copy this layer style so right click on the right side of the layer name and select Copy Layer Style.

089

Now once you’ve copied it, right click the layer again and this time, click Clear Layer Style.

090

Last thing you need to do is update everything we just did here by saving. So hit command + S on Mac or ctrl + S on PC to save.

09. Extract The Atmosphere

Now switch back to your previous document and load up the selection of the planet by option + clicking on the layer thumbnail.

093

Now we want to create a new layer by going down to the very bottom and clicking the Create A New Layer button.

094

With this new layer, we want to fill it with a color. Doesn’t matter what color you pick. So grab your Paint Bucket tool and click inside the circle to fill it with color.

095

Once your layer is filled with color, right click to the right of the layer name and click on Paste Layer Style.

096

Then set the fill of the layer to 0%

098

Your planet should now look like this!

099

10. Atmospheric Intensity

Now we are nearing the end! We just need to make a few more minor adjustments and you’ll have yourself a sweet planet of your own.

The next thing we need to do is tone down some of the effects of the atmosphere. At this point they look a bit too intense so we are going to mess with the layer effects a bit.

So now double click on the new Ellipse layer to open up the layer effects window. Click on the Inner Glow tab and adjust your settings to be a bit less intense. Feel free to match mine as well.

100

Then click on the Outer Glow tab and adjust your setting for this as well.

101

11. Adjust Atmospheric Lighting

If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back because that means you understood what I was trying to say throughout the whole tutorial!

The final step is to do something you already did before. We are going to group these layers and add a layer mask and a black to transparent gradient.

So start by clicking on the top Ellipse layer then hold down shift and click on the planet layer.

102 103

Then group them by hitting command + G on Mac or ctrl + G on PC. Then rename the group to planet (FINAL)

104

Next thing we’re going to do is load the selection of the top Ellipse layer. So open up the group and option + click on the layer thumbnail.

105

Once thats loaded up, go up to the top menu and make your way to Select > Modify > Expand…

107

Then change the pixel value to 100.

108

Your select should now be 100 pixels more all around.

109

Once thats done, make sure you’re still selected on the top group layer planet (FINAL)

110

Then go to hit G to select the gradient tool. Make sure its still set to black foreground to transparent. place your mouse in the center of the planet where the guides meet. Then click and drag out to the bottom right corner.

111

and….BOOM! You’ve just made your own planet in Photoshop!

112

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. This was my first ever so I hope it made sense. If you get stuck at any point, feel free to comment here and I’ll try to help you out.

Thanks again!

– Raul