How to create space art
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By tadp0l3   |   Watch
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Published: February 23, 2010
I'll cut right to the chase! This news article will be about tutorials and resources related to space and space art. In an attempt to bring order in this chaos we call life, art and news articles I'll try my best to classify the resources and the tutorials into categories - knowing all too well that those classifications are arbitrary. Enough of that though, let us begin.

Space art can be divided in a number of sub genres, in this article I'll talk about two such categories (again knowing all too well a lot of space art falls in neither of these categories); classic space art and terraspace. Your typical space scene usually consists of one or several space elements and celestial bodies, such as planets, nebulas and stars. In terraspace another dimension is added. The "camera" or point of view is not located in outer space, but on the ground. The space elements are then put in the sky. To achieve this, the artist often have a stock photo of an up-close environment in the foreground (traditionally rendered in the software program terragen, hence the name).

Some classic space scenes


Starlit night by tadp0l3 Serenity by Artush ultima by nisht

Terraspace scenes


One last picture by tadp0l3 ATARAXIS by hoevelkamp

Art that fits neither category


Summoner by tadp0l3 Aquatica by Burning-Liquid Cosmos room by dnb-nOise

Aside from the tutorials I will, as previously mentioned, also provide links to a number of free-to-use resources. Make sure to read the description on these resources for limits and regulations related to the stock. Also, try to avoid using unmodified resources in your work. You won’t learn anything by doing so. Instead try to modify, over-paint and in other ways change to stock to make it partially your own creation. Stocks should really only be used for learning purposes – they’re great while your learn how to get things right, but once you know how to do it yourself you should try and create as much of your scenes yourself as possible.
   

Composition


The composition is one of the fundamentals in art creation, with a crappy composition even the most awesome piece turns into a mediocre one. Superiorgamer explains this and more in these tutorials.
Space Walkthrough Tutorial by Superiorgamer Space Compisition Resource by Superiorgamer

Stars and star scapes


The foundation upon which almost every space piece rests is star scapes. Star fields are easily neglected and not very thought over by a lot of artists though. Here’s a head start on creating complex and interesting stars and star scapes.

Tutorials


alyn explains the basic and very commonly used technique of using the noise filter to create star scapes, and though this rarely is enough to get a satisfying star field, it’s a good way to start
Stars tutorial by alyn

sirgerg gives us a much more refined way of creating complex star fields. The foundation is still the noise filter in photoshop, but with a lot of manual work
gallery.artofgregmartin.com/tu…

ladyrapid goes one step further and scrap the noise layer for fully painted star fields to great effect in his tutorial.
Starfield Tutorial by ladyrapid

Finally Ov3RMinD gives us an explanation on how to create those extra detailed stars with diffraction spikes.
Stars Tutorial by Ov3RMinD

Resources


This star resource by :devmoonchild-stock: is very simple, but with some manipulation using the clone tool and/or the cloud filter in photoshop for instance, it could turn into a really beautiful starry sky. This is probably the best stock for learning how to manipulate and create your own interesting star scapes.
:thumb151628678:

These starfields by Hameed are both of high resolution and outstanding quality. They’re intended to be used by non-space artists or beginners to space art and can very well stand without too much manipulation. That’s, however, a bad idea – since the point of this whole tutorial is to experiment, create and to learn!
Starfield v1 by Hameed Starfield v2 by Hameed Starfield v3 by Hameed Starfield v4 by Hameed

These are another couple of high quality star scapes by buchvecny, Smattila and  Mr-Frenzy
Free Starfield 4500x3000 by buchvecny Starfield stock by Smattila A General Starfield by Mr-Frenzy

Planets


Planets are probably, and perhaps naturally, the most common element (aside from stars) in both classic space art and terraspace. The most commonly used way to create planets are by manipulating textures in Photoshop. 3d rendering programs such as 3d studio max can also be used with great results.

Tutorials


alyns Advanced planet tutorial mixes the creational process with scientific facts on what you need and should know about planets before creating them, this tutorial has been a starting point for many space artists. It also includes a lot of extras, such as city lights and planet rings etc.
Advanced planet creation by alyn

DemosthenesVoice is an excellent tutorial on another method in which to create planets. Also includes a lot of extras and alternative ways in which to create things like city lights.
The Grand Planet Tutorial by DemosthenesVoice

dinyctis tutorial on planet creation using only one texture is probably one of the oldest and most classic tutorials out there. It dates back to 2003 and is probably the simplest of the tutorials, still gives great results though
Planet Tutorial by dinyctis

A little less common planet type in space art is the gas-giant, but ofcourse there’s tutorials on this subject as well! Take a look for instance on lord-ks tutorial on gas giants. A special tutorial in the sense that it explains how to get a tilt on the planet you usually don’t using the common methods of gas giant creations.
Gas Planet tutorial Fr_Eng by Camille-Besneville

hoevelkamp makes some of the most extraordinary planets using 3d studio max and has been kind enough to reveal his secrets to the community in this tutorial (check his gallery for more 3d studio max tutorials on rings and textures etc).
3ds Max Planet Tutorial by hoevelkamp

One thing many new artist have troubles with, is lightning the planet correctly, this tutorial by bloknayrb explains how to do it, and how not to.
Planet Lighting Tutorial by bloknayrb

Lastly Mr-Frenzy explains a way to create planet textures.
Planet Texture Tutorial by Mr-Frenzy

Resources


As there’s an overabundance of planet resources here on deviantart I won’t present you with an introduction to all of them – as I’ve done to most of the other resources, instead I’ve categorized them into categories with no additional information. I’ve still tried to only select high quality resources though. The pre-made textures are what will give you the most freedom when creating planet, and the highest level of educational experience when used.

Green, oceanic, stone and barren planets
High Res PSD Planets by edubz02 My Big Blue Planets by andyke Stock Planet 1 by Superiorgamer :thumb138720955:   Moon Stock v1 by Hameed  
Gas giants
Gas Giant resource pack by Chromattix
Artificial planet
Artificial Planet Stock by Hameed
Packs of assorted types of planets
DA-Birthday Stock Planets by hoevelkamp planetrenderspack-2 by ocd1c-stock Planets Pack 01 by Darcos
Pre-made planetary textures
Planet Texture by Artush Planet-Cloud-Moon Texture Pk. by SavageDragon1313 :thumb155021541: Planet Texture by ShockBeam Planet texture + Cloud by Qzma

Nebulas


Nebulas are another very common element in space art. Again I will try to categories them, not by how they look though, but how they are created. The three basic ways in which to create nebulas are by manipulating cloud stock, using fractals generated by programs such as apophysis or by painting them on free hand. There’s obviously other ways and middle ways, but these three would be the most common.

Tutorials


First of it’s good to know what a nebula is, and how they’re commonly displayed in space art.  alyn gives us this and more (including a classification based on creation as mentioned above) in his in-depth nebula study including dozens of examples on various nebulas.
Nebulae in Space Art by alyn

MacRebisz show us a very easy and straightforward way of creating nebulas using manipulated cloud stock
Nebula tutorial. by MacRebisz

Another tutorial which incorporates some basic painting together with the cloud manipulation is Superiorgamers
Nebula Tutorial by Superiorgamer

One of the most distinguished fractal based nebula creators synax444 has given us a tutorial including some stock explaining how to create nebulas based on fractals from the software apophysis
Photoshop Nebula Tutorial by synax444

ColdFlame1987 has made an excellent tutorial on how to create nebulas from scratch using nothing but your tablet or mouse.


Another tutorial on painted nebulas, that’s actually more of a walkthrough, is Andr-Sars trifid nebula walkthough.
TRIFID NEBULA WALKTHROUGH by Andr-Sar

Then there’s three other noteworthy tutorials that deploy special techniques and variations of different techniques worth showcasing here. Namly cchomikk, Pr3t3nd3r and nishts.
Nebula Tutorial by cchomikk Copper - neb walkthrough by Pr3t3nd3r nebula tutorial by nisht by nisht

Resources


ErikShoemaker has released a pack that might not contain the most realistic ones, but still a handful of very beautiful nebulas
Nebula Resource Pack by ErikShoemaker

Hameed who’s got his gallery full of amazing stock obviously has a few nebulas as well, here’s one of them.
Nebula v3 by Hameed

Moonchilde-Stock has a wide variety of all kinds of different nebula stock. Some of them can be used as they are without any manipulation, while some of them would provide an excellent base for further development by over-painting or other means. Here’s a selection of the gallery.


Other objects


Aside from stars, planets and nebulas there’s an endless variety of objects in space, here’s a few and how to create them:

Tutorials


Asteroids can be painted or, more commonly, created in a 3d software, here’s how to do both:
Asteroid Tut By Coldflame1987 by scifisrc How to Make Detailed Asteroids by dilekt Tutorial - Creating Asteroids by 1vue

scifisrc and cheshireflare explains two ways in which to easily create suns.
Sun Tutorial By Adienvenis by scifisrc :thumb24690943:

Baro shows us how to create craters in moons and planets
Tutorial: Craters by Baro

gucken show us how to create trails - for space ships and comets for instance.
Guide: 1 way to create trails by gucken

Resources


Asteroids and asteroid fields
Asteroid Pack by dilekt Asteroid Pack I by aRchAng3lZz Asteroid Mega Pack 01 by ChrisCold Asteroid Field Stock v01 by Hameed
Sun

Terraspace


Now it’s time for some terraspace. As mentioned earlier terraspace is space art with a terrain in the foreground. The terrain can either be a stock picture you’ve taken yourself or gotten for free online, or a terrain created using a terrain software. I won’t go into details about how to create the terrains or how to choose the best kind of photo, instead I’ll just present you with one single terraspace tutorial that explains some of the basics, namely zebravissimos terraspace tutorial.
:thumb30210110:

More in-depth resources & progression examples


There are a few resources here on deviantart that has been created specifically for learning purposes & some people have even uploaded deviations showing the progression of their pieces. These kind of resources can often give more insight into art creation than tutorials or basic resources.

GlennClovis has uploaded a huge 2500x2500 .psd file containing ground and cloud textures as well as several different shadow and atmosphere layers for planet creation. An excellent file to see the intricate workings of PS and of planetary creation.
Resource Pack 1 Planets by GlennClovis

aRchAng3lZz has provided us with progression views on two of his space pieces
Hidden Treasures - Progress by aRchAng3lZz Reminiscence - Progress by aRchAng3lZz

And so have MacRebisz & jamajurabaev
Making of Torn by MacRebisz Making of 'Goodbye' by jamajurabaev

Superiorgamer went so far as to create a +20min video tutorial on the making of one of his pieces:
Rebirth Video Tutorial + PSD by Superiorgamer    

Brushes


Though the original brushes of Photoshop usually is enough, some people create their own brushes to use when painting stars and nebulas (and even planets, though these won’t be presented here). Some of these brushes enables you to create whole nebulas and even galaxies with a simple click. Since that’s not creating anything by yourself, those kind of brushes won’t be included here. And though you’ll often get a nicer result from making your own brushes or simply learning techniques so that the default brushes of Photoshop are more than enough for you, I’ll present a few excellent and high quality brush sets that gives great results, but also requires quite a bit of work from the artist himself/herself.

Resource Pack 4 Nebula Brushes by GlennClovis Nebula Brushes V2 by juanez SilkAssassins Cloud Brushes by SilkAssassin matkraken:special.nebulas by Matkraken SilkAssassins Nebula Brushes by SilkAssassin

The community


One of the best ways to learn how to create space art is by interaction with other space artists. Deviantart is a great place to meet artists from all over the world. Comment on other artists works and ask for inputs yourself. Join space themed clubs and join the official space art channel chat.deviantart.com/chat/space… here on deviantart.

Clubs


Here’s a list of space themed clubs to join.
:iconspace-club: :iconspace-frontier: :icontheouterspace: :iconthe-final-frontier: :icongt-g:

Credits and thanks…


…goes out to all the wonderful artists who’s written these tutorials and created these resources - big kudos to all of you.

This article was first submitted in the recurring space themed blog Deep SPACE blog star-trekking.deviantart.com/b… the group Star-Trekking

Signed: tadp0l3
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Comments70
anonymous's avatar
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cerulean88's avatar
Yay thank you so much for compiling this! I've always been curious about creating space art.
Goonfella's avatar
Wow! Stumbled across this page by accident and was so pleased I did. Amazing selection of tutorials and resources to satisfy any space enthusiast. Immediately bookmarked and :+fav: Thanks very much.
mason4300's avatar
:O

This is the single most awesome page on DA.
deviantART muro drawingComment Drawing
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
You like it? See it much more refined and with LOTS of more tutorials and resources here: [link]
Ls777's avatar
Ls777Hobbyist Digital Artist
kick ass collection
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
You like it? See it much more refined and with LOTS of more tutorials and resources here: [link]
PetarMKD's avatar
PetarMKDHobbyist Digital Artist
thanks very much i soon will start making space art scenes :D
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you like this, check this out: [link]
PetarMKD's avatar
PetarMKDHobbyist Digital Artist
thanks
Paliodor's avatar
Great collection of tut's. I'm sure it will be a big help for every person who like making sci-fi or space related works. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you like this, check this out: [link]
E-Squid's avatar
Is there some way to fav this? I have to keep this saved for future reference!
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
Check this out instead [link] that tutorial includes all this and much more! :)
Vocatus's avatar
VocatusHobbyist Digital Artist
An excellent Guide, many thanks for posting :)
tadp0l3's avatar
tadp0l3Hobbyist Digital Artist
You like this, check out: [link]
Vocatus's avatar
VocatusHobbyist Digital Artist
Brilliant! Many thanks. Guess that's my weekend taken care of as I work through it all ;-)

Thanks for pointing me at it.
Al
Hydrorg's avatar
HydrorgHobbyist General Artist
Damn, talk about a tutorial :D
kenwb74's avatar
[link] any idea on how to improve ???
kenwb74's avatar
Erm....any advice on the creation of space art using traditional mediums..??? paint...brushes...canvas etc?? :thumb134076466:
ValencyGraphics's avatar
ValencyGraphicsProfessional Digital Artist
Great job in putting this together! keepwalking07 has a good tutorial on how to make a sun/star as well, found here: [link]
DJBoraP's avatar
DJBoraPStudent Traditional Artist
Thanks for the article! :)
WDWParksGal's avatar
Cannot imagine how long it took you to create this article! A lot of information to digest, as well as some nice pictures! I shudder to think the cost of space programs. At any rate, really good information and very appreciated!
cocacolagirlie's avatar
cocacolagirlieHobbyist Digital Artist
I never tryed out space art...but this article made it so interesting
that i had to give it a try.
I must say i think it came out better as a thought.
This is really an amazing article :clap::clap:
anonymous's avatar
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