Space Background Creation

Tutorial by Orion Williams


Here I'm going to teach you how to create your own space backgrounds in Photoshop.

Just start with a new document.

Let's go to our color chooser.

And pick a dark navy blue color.

Press Alt/Opt Backspace to fill this layer with the foreground color.

Now let's create a new blank layer.

Go to our Brush tool and bring up our brushes palette. 

If it's grey, then you have to press B to make the brush tool active.

Having great brushes will REALLY help out your design process.  Great designers have great tools.  I'm loading the cosmic blitz set from


Pressing OK will replace the current brushes with this new brush set (you're not losing them as long as they're saved in a set).

I'm going to choose the starfield brush.

And then choose a new, lighter background color a light blue

I'm raising the brush size to make the brush larger to fit within the document.

With a click or two we're already getting somewhere fast.


If you go to your Brush palette..

And go to click on the Brush Tip Shape longbar..

You can change the angle of the brushes.

In CS3, click the arrows like this to hide the brush palette back.

I like changing the rotation, brush size and opacity of brushes quite often to maintain more realism and creativity.

Lowering the opacity will help some of the stars appear more distant.

Click again to create new stars on the same layer.

If you don't have the brush sets, you can essentially do the smae process (which I used to do) by just using a small slightly blurry regular brush to manually create individual stars on a layer at different locations and vary the size and opacity.  This way is just faster.

Now create a new layer.

And load the clouds set if you've got it.

Choose a single cloud brush.

Put it in a good location and click once to apply the brush.

Here's what it looks like.

We can duplicate this layer by dragging it to the new layer icon.

And then with the moVe tool, drag it downwards.

Now go to edit: transform: rotate 180 to flip it upside down.

Now we essentially have a mirror replica on the bottom.

Create a new layer (always recommended for new, independent elements).

Now go choose another cloud brush.

And you can place that within the image by clicking.

Now go to gradient fill layer.

Choose reflected.

And it will give you a gradient fill of our current foreground color.

Here you can see the gradient layer we put on the top.

Now make black as your foreground color.

Click on the uppermost active layer (we hid the previous gradient fill).

And then do another gradient fill with reverse reflected.

Beneath that (make that layer active as shown)..

We can add a color balance which will appear beneath the gradient fill.

Skew your color balance towards blue.

The settings don't have to be exact, just eyeball what works for you.

Now we've made the whole design 'bluer' by adjusting the color balance across the different tones.

Try moving the color balance above the gradient fill layer.

Now try changing the blending mode; here to soft light.

Now go to your Type tool.

Enter some text with whatever your current font is (as long as it's not comic sans).

Double click on the T layer icon to highlight your text editing field

Change the size with the scrubby bar.

And then go to your Font collection and scroll through to find a (space age) font that you like.

Here I'm using Sea Dog.

Create a new layer for brushes.

Get white as your foreground color.

Now load some cool fx brushes such as Designfera's Plasma Flames from Renderosity (yes as a designer you may actually have to get serious and make 'investments' in your tools by purchasing some).

Clicking on 'append' will load this brush set in addition to retaining the brushes you have loaded.

I'm choosing the 011 brush.

Change the brush opacity if it was lowered so you get a strong effect.

And then do your brush stroke.

Duplicate the layer by dragging it to the new layer icon.

Go to your styles and..

Load Styles

Choose the psdpro set that you get as a member of PSDMonthly (even for the free trial).

Load these styles if they aren't already and you can experiment around with a layer style on your text layer.

I recommend that you name your layers if you find it more helpful to remember what's going on (even though I usually don't).

You can change the opacity if you sense that something is too bright.

Now I'm duplicate the 'warp' layer which was the brush effect.

Now I have two of them; one on two different layers so I can move the new one independently.

Go to Ctrl/Cmd T to get your transform tool

Here I've just flipped or rotated it around

It's really a simple process but the duplicity can inspire your creativity too.

I'm moving these layers which look like some intentional cool spacewarp to being above the gradient fill and color balance layers.

And then lowering the opacity a bit so it's not as bright.

Notice how they're whiter now because of being on top of the gradient fill layers.

Now I'm making the text layer active.

And with the move tool I can move it towards the top and center.

Remember that you can also do a lot of this without the brushes but it just really helps you get higher quality fast by investing in some good brush sets (or making your own as I teach).

I hope you enjoyed that tutorial and got some ideas out of it - have fun!



Orion Williams has produced Photoshop tutorials online for 100,000's of Photoshop users worldwide since 2004.  Copyright Dreamcore Productions, Ltd. U.S.A. 2007

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