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Space effect and background with photoshop

Created by MarinaLopez on Oct 28 2014

Today we’re going to make an advanced Photoshop illustration that will get you closer to become an expert in this Adobe software. I have always been a fan of the science fiction genre and the artwork that is made based on this style, from the classic Tron movie to the latest Star War movies, I really like everything space-related.

This tutorial is dedicated to show you how to create a fancy space vortex design with pure Adobe Photoshop. We will need to develop our own brushes, work with smart objects and use a lot of effects, this tutorial will allow you to experiment in many of the steps we took so you can get your own version of the space vortex design. Well friends, it’s time to begin.

1. Create your canvas

Go to File>new and set up a canvas of 1000 px X 1000 px, RGB color mode and 72 dpi, all these properties indicate to us that this artwork will be designed for digital devices and monitors.

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2. Making the background

The background is the easier part to make of this tutorial, and that’s why it’s going to be the first thing we’re going to do. On the first layer we will place the main background. Choose a black and violet palette for start.

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Now go to Filter>Render>Clouds and that will provide the first layer of the background. You must know that the Clouds option always delivers different designs, so don’t worry if your clouds look different to ours.

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You should be seeing something like this on your monitor:

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The next step is to add a little movement to the background, make a new layer and fill it with white.

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Now go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and you can decide which value to choose.

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Now you must be seeing something like this:

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Proceed by going to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur and again, you can choose the value, remember that this tutorial is not a strict guide but a friendly article that is going to guide you throughout your own experimentation. After adding the radial blur, this is what you will obtain.

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For the next step you need to go to Render>difference clouds and obtain something like this:

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Go to Image>adjustments>levels and move the white marker closer to the black to get something closer to the following screenshot:

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And by making that adjustment, we can intensify the contrast of our image.

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Repeat the radial blur filter, we’re experimenting along with you on this part.

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Move to the layers menu and set the blending mode to color dodge and the opacity to 75 %.

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Go to Edit>Free Transform or hit Ctrl + T and enlarge a little bit the object.

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Now add some radial blur, just a little bit.

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Make use once again of the difference clouds.

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Now some radial blur.

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The next step is new, go to Edit>Adjustments>Invert.

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We did this to highlight some parts of the texture.

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Play with the levels to make the texture more subtle.

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Add one final radial blur.

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And finally, hit Ctrl + T to transform it and rotate it to the left.

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Great, we’re done with this texture, the next thing to do is add a solid color fill on a superior layer.

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Choose a color that is closer to the chromatic palette that we’ve been using.

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And now we add a mask from the layers window, for start you must draw two ellipses using the ellipse tool.

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And having the ellipses selected (you can check that on the path menu next to the layers), click on the button “add vector mask”.

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And you will have this image on your monitor:

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We’re not moving this mask on the future, so if you want, you can right click on it and select rasterize mask. Now take a look over the layers window and you should see the masks menu (if not, you can unlock it from the window menu).

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Play a little with the Masks menu to add some feather to our masked object, in our case, we obtained this:

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Before we continue, we need to make a custom brush to implement on our design. Save all your changes and without closing the document create a new one, around 950 px X 950 px it’s enough.

3. Starting the space vortex

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Making our brush it’s quite simple. use the polygonal lasso tool to make the following selection.

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Fill it with a solid color and deselect it.

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And to make the brush, just go to Edit>Define Brush Preset, give it a name if you want and click OK.

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Now we can move back to our illustration, first hide the background to have a clear vision of the canvas, then select the brush that we just did and on the right side, make the following adjustments at the brush window:

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And now we can plan our main shape, make sure that the layer is empty, we say this because while testing the brush we drew a little bit over it. This part is pure experimentation, grab the brush tool and draw something similar to the next screenshot:

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Select the rectangle marquee tool and clear the half part of the drawing, it could be the top or bottom side, it’s up to you.

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We choose to clear the lower part of the object.

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Duplicate the layer, then go to Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical and place it matching the original object.

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They’re overlapping on the middle, use the rectangle marquee to clear the excesses until it looks good.

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Rotate it 90 degrees before we can take the next step.

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Merge the two layers and hit Ctrl + T to free transform the new layer, then look on the top bar for the warp button.

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After entering the warp mode, play for a while with the blend values to see what you can get.

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In our case, we leave our object looking like this:

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Ctrl + T to transform our object and make it fit into our canvas.

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Now duplicate the layer and flip it vertically, then place it at the bottom matching it with the other layer.

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Select both layers and duplicate them, then rotate the two copies 90 degrees.

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Finally, select the four layers that our object is made of, right click on them and choose “Convert to Smart Object”.

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Make your background visible again and then reduce your smart object’s size.

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Let’s add some effects to our smart object, but first switch its blending mode to multiply and reduce its fill to 0%.

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Good, now go to effects and choose Gradient Overlay.

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And set this effect according to the following properties:

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Now go to Filters>Blur>Box Blur, we need to make our object a little smoother.

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Around 8 pixels is fine to get the appearance that we’re looking for.

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And this is the result after applying the box blur effect:

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For the next step we need you to duplicate the smart object, then increase its size around 20 % and rotate it a little bit, this is all experimental, so make sure that you make what’s best for your design.

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Take the duplicate and change its blending mode to normal and the opacity to 80 %, also increase the Box Blur value to 15 px.

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Now the gradient overlay, adjust it according to the following properties:

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And we’re done with this part, take a look at it.

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Let’s move the radial blur object that we did a few steps a go and place it so it looks on the center of the vortex.

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Let’s duplicate this smart object and reduce its size a little bit.

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Remove all the effects of this smart object, then switch the blending mode to color dodge and the opacity to 100 %.

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Now we proceed by adding a gradient overlay, here are the parameters:

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Now it looks like this:

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Let’s add an outer glow effect to our object.

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And now our vortex looks like this:

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I don’t like the fact that is looking excessively symmetrical, make double click over the smart object, to access to it and change everything that you don’t like, even add some masked objects with blur to make it look even nicer, then save the changes and close it to go back to the original file.

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And adding some blurred ellipses, play with the opacity values and adjust positions, we can get something like this:

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Leave the Smart Object edition, make sure to save the changes, now it’s looking way much better.

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Duplicate the layer that we’ve been working on for the last steps, then right click over it and select rasterize layer, remove all the effects, restore the fill to 100% and switch the blending mode to divide.

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And now play with the box blur and using the eraser tool try to generate some highlights to our design, also you need to reduce the opacity to 75 % to make a little more subtle the highlights.

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The changes are minimal, but you can be sure that this highlight are a nice touch to our vortex. For the next step, we will create a new layer and then add a gradient fill.

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And these are the parameters of our gradient fill:

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OK, this gradient covered everything, but that’s just temporary.

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Using the ellipse tool, we’re going to create a mask, first draw the ellipse on the superior left corner of our canvas.

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Then go to the paths menu next to layers, right click over the path and choose make selection, then go back to layers and on the bottom part you fill find the mask button.

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Now switch the blending mode to overlay and reduce the fill to 0 %.

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The next step is adding a couple effects, first outer glow.

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After that, add a Stroke effect to our masked object.

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Good, now this is what we have accomplished so far:

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And now we will modify our mask from the masks panel (you can learn how to use it in one of our previous posts), let’s add some blur to our mask, feel free to experiment with it.

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And having this, now we need to add a vector mask.

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And using the pen tool, let’s draw a triangle.

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After this, we have a great flash of light on our design.

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Add a new layer and go to the add new gradient button (bottom of the layers panel).

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Now switch the blending mode to color dodge and reduce the fill to 29 %.

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After completing that, click on the add vector mask (bottom of the layers panel) and trace the following shape using your pen tool.

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And finally, add an outer glow effect to the object.

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Great, now duplicate the layer and move it to the right side of our vortex, also grab the direct selection tool to modify the mask (click over the gray square next to the layer) and switch its shape a little bit so it doesn’t look like a replica.

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And that’s how it looks:

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So far our space vortex is looking great, just a few more details and we’re done. Add a new layer and select the brush tool and then, pixel by pixel, place a lot of starts around our design, you can play with sizes and opacity values while drawing them.

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Great isn’t it?, for the next step, create a new group (the folder button at the bottom of the layers panel), then select the stars layers and the two glows and drag them into the group.

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By doing this, we can manage things like opacity and blending mode for all the layers.

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After gathering these layers, select the group and add a vector mask, then draw three ellipses.

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Select the masks and from the masks panel add them a little blur to smudge them.

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Great job, we need to add just a couple more things and we’re done with our vortex, create a new layer and fill it with a solid color.

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And it’s time to use a new tool, go to Filters>render>lens flare and choose the first option, if Photoshop asks you if you want to rasterize the layer, select yes.

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All the we’re seeing now is the flare and to fix that, switch the blending mode to linear dodge and reduce the opacity to 47 %.

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After this, let’s add a box blur to fade out a little bit our lens flare.

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Much nicer, take a look at how our vortex is looking so far:

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And the final touch, grab your brush tool and have fun adding stars  to make our design a truly space vortex.

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And that’s it, we have finished our space vortex, let’s take a look at the final result:

If you want you can explore with a different color palette and change a little your smart object to get another amazing space vortex.

Now you can make your own space illustrations in Photoshop, just have fun exploring the different tools, color palettes and effects, you will probably end up making amazing artworks. As a special gift from Tutorialshock, you can download the two space vortex examples on PSD format to check them out, we will really appreciate if you share back our love, see you on our next article.

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