Photoshop tutorials
Galaxy Tutorial - Photoshop tutorial
by - Padawan


This document is meant as a walkthrough of how I create my galaxies. Some elements will remind you of a tutorial, some will not be as informative and thus should be regarded as a walkthrough. I am aware of that many people follow tutorials and do not develop their own techniques after reading it. So in order to force you to develop your own techniques, I will not tell about the the most important part of the creation of a galaxy: the brushing!

Also, before you read this, I'd like to tell you that if you dont like brushing, then making galaxies is definitely NOT for you. Galaxies require much brushing, time and effort.

What you need to know about galaxies:

* Galaxies are incredibly vast, they can span widths of more than 100 000 light years.
* They contain billions of stars.
* When the Hubble Space Telescope take simages of galaxies, you see foreground stars, that are much, much closer. Therefore they should be seen a bit larger.
* Intergalactic stars (stars that are outside galaxies) are very rare, with the exception of stars in globular clusters.
* If you depict a galaxy from outside it, the background should not be filled with stars, but with a few other galaxies!
* Below you see some of the kind of galaxies there are, the spiral galaxies classes are determined according to size of the core and the complexity of the spiral arms.

Getting started:

Of course, you could start painting your galaxy immediately, but personally, I prefer a guide. So, the first thing I do is to make a new, square document. In this document I create a guide shape that will help me paint the base of my galaxy later. What I do to get this shape is make a layer with a rectangle and copy that layer, then i tilt it 90 degrees, which gives me a cross. Later I merge the layers and then apply the (Distort--->) "Twirl" filter on it. In the image above I think I twirled it 540 degrees.

The size of your guide depends on the size you want your final galaxy to be.

Choosing angle

Ok, now the guide layer is there, all I have to do is to plan from what angle I want to paint the galaxy. In this case I chose to view the galaxy from above, with no tilt horisontally.

Adding perspective

Adding perspective to galaxies is a crucial part, it gives more depth to it, and so the guide should have it too.


As I said at the beginning of this walkthrough, the brushing is up to you to learn and study (use reference images found on google).

Ok, so now when the guide is ready, grab your brushes and start brushing with a low opacity, choose your colours and just follow the guide. Keep in mind though, you shouldnt brush only where your guide is, between the arms there is mass too. What you should do is to emphasize the arms. When your brushed galaxy has a shape that is close enough to resemble a galaxy, remove the guide layer! Now you are free from the guide and now you really have to think about the concentration of the gas.

This is what one of my galaxies look like when the a decent amount of the brushing is done. "Nothing Matters" looked like this at a stage. The image is seen at roughly 10% so you do not see many details.

The Core

The size of the core depends on how much mass the galaxy has aswell as how old it is. I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think that the younger a galaxy is, the bigger core and the less evolved spiral arms it has.

All I did was that I made a lense flare and then spinned it to 100% using the radial blur. Then I adjusted the shape of the core using levels. Then I set the blending mode to screen and experimented some more.

Adding stars

Many people know little about the variety of stellar luminosity aswell as size. If you are trying to paint a galaxy, it is more important than ever that you master creating realistic star fields. Make several layers of stars, and experiment!

I set the layer mode to color dodge as the stars will only appear within the galaxy or in it's vicinity (where you have applied any paint)

~ End


PS: Tutorial written with the permission of the Author!