Photoshop Solar effect

One of the first things i learned how to do in photoshop was how to make a view of the night sky that looks real. Normally i would do this in 1900×1600 resolution or larger, but because we will have multiple images we can go smaller at 500×400.

1 Start with a black background. Create a new layer and make that also black. Then go to Filter-> Noise-> add noise. Select Gaussian and monochromatic. Select some amount between 40 and 150. This will give you a base to work on.

2 Now go to Filter-> Stylize-> Solarize. This will get rid of a lot of the dots and help with later steps. This step can be skipped if you want a higher density

3 Now go to Filter-> blur->gaussian blur and set it between .2 and .4. this will put our stars slightly out of focus

4 Now we really make it look like stars. We need to add a levels filter to the whole scene. To do this, go to the bottom right of the page. you will see a circle with half black half white. select that, and find levels in the menu that it brings up. Now you have this crazy graph thing. at the bottom of it, you will see little triangles, one black, one grey, one white. Move the black one a bit toward the center and see the result. play around with this till you get what you want. If this isnt working, go back and add a bit more blur.

5 now we have some stars, but they are all one one brightness. To make some of them brighter, you could repeat steps 1-4, add a Linear Dodge blend (right above the layers area) and reduce the opacity of the original layer. or you can do one of these

6a Make sure your colors( on the left of the screen) are set to white and black. Go to Filter-> render-> Clouds. Looks cool eh? now add a color dodge blend to it and some areas of stars will pop out.

6b Make sure your colors( on the left of the screen) are set to white and black. Go to Filter-> render-> Fibers. Now add a color dodge blend and you make lines of stars pop out.

You can combine these together with different sets of stars to get really nice effects. To make the cloud or fiber layer effect only one set of stars, make sure the layers are right above and below each other in the layers menu. Select the top one, right click, and merge down.

With 15 mins of playing around with these tricks plus some difference clouds, lens flare, and reference images, i created this. Try it, its easy

You can also use his to add a background to images that already have a background by using the magic wand tool to and control+ click until you select the whole background. delete the background and paste in the new background.

-Adam Steffy-


~ by adamsteffy on March 14, 2011.

4 Responses to “Photoshop Solar effect”

  1. I really enjoyed this blogpost, both in terms of content and the resulting product. Of course, you could always find an actual picture of a night sky somewhere online, but it’s oh-so-inspiring to create one of your own. Also, the final picture you provided is so realistic…you should’ve put it at the top, honestly, to draw people in with the prospect of creating a similar image. It also was very helpful (and insightful) of you to provide reasoning behind certain steps (e.g. “This will give you a base,” “This will put the stars out of focus,” etc.) It provides the reader not only with one explicit process but also with general background information and comprehension he/she could use in a different project.

    Overall, great job!!

  2. This is a really interesting tutorial, and stood out to me a lot more than the rest because of one specific property of its nature: it takes a completely generic built-in effect, applies just a few basic effects to it, and almost instantly, it’s something familiar, believable, and versatile. It’s an astoundingly creative way to quickly make something out of a few effects applied to one another, and even evokes a kind of philosophical message how order can come from total randomness in a computer often as it seems to in nature.

  3. Wow, I knew that you could use photoshop to create a good picture out of a bad picture but I didn’t realize you could create art out of nothing. (Shows what I know.) Thanks for giving the step by step with this; I don’t know if I will need a starry background for my video, but it’s nice to know the extents of creativity that Photoshop allows. Now I can fool around with it on my own with a little bit more confidence.


  4. I’ve frequently run into situations where I need a field of stars and resorted to just randomly clicking around. Your treatment is an incredibly effective and elegant approach to the problem.
    Your explanations are specific and well-detailed and your images helpful. The examples take it further and provide good jumping points for the user, as well as nice depictions of practical applications.
    -Dave Turka

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