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Painting Planets

By Cristian A.G
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Date Added: 16th June 2009
Software used:
Photoshop

What we need to do now is get rid of the atmosphere that's on the dark side of the part of the planet, because there is no visible atmosphere on dark sides of celestial bodies.

Select the eraser tool and pick a big fuzzy brush. Set the opacity to 75% and flow to 100% and start erasing smoothly until you have a soft, smooth-looking atmosphere. Mine looks like this

547_tid_planet5.jpg
Now we have the base file for a planet. You can apply any texture that you want to this, so go right ahead and save it as a PSD to preserve layer configurations.

Texturing the Planet.

At this moment, you should have 2 documents open in Photoshop:

- Texture file
- Base planet file

In the texture file, you should have your texture selected. Go ahead and bring it into the base planet file, and place the layer between the base and the atmosphere layer. Of course, our texture is 4 times bigger than our planet, so you will resize it to fit the planet (remember to hold down the shift key in order to keep the proportions). If you aren't very good at resizing and end up with a texture that is slightly bigger than the planet, ctrl+click (or apple+click) the base layer, invert it (ctrl+shift+I for pc, apple+shift+I for macs) and then hit the delete key or the backspace key.
Take the texture layer, rename it to "land" and set it to screen. That should look something like this.

547_tid_planet6.jpg
NOTE: If you need an "accessory" planet, which is a happen that happens to be far away from the viewer and lots of detail is unnecessary, you can use this. However, we will use a lot of detail for really nice close-ups.

What we will do now is have a nice uniform land texture that won't get in the way with our clouds. So what we do is set the land layer to 33% opacity, duplicate it, rotate it 90 degrees clock-wise, duplicate it again, and flip it again in the same direction. Then link all of the 3 layers together and merge them. Now go ahead and set this layer to Overlay or Soft Light (the choice is up to you). My texture looks like so.

547_tid_planet7.jpg
Note: if you wish to use this as your final planet, you might want to do some brightness/contrast adjustments to make it look sharper and more realistic:

I use -50 for brightness, +50 for contrast, and then desaturated it a bit (-50 in hue/saturation controls.


547_tid_planet8.jpg




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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 264048, pid: 0) Moo on Thu, 27 March 2014 12:24pm
sort your tutorial out, my nanna could produce a better one and the closest thing she's come to a computer is her microwave.
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(ID: 239356, pid: 0) Gah on Sun, 15 December 2013 4:44pm
This tut is very confusing. Steps are not very clear.
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(ID: 200124, pid: 0) Opal on Wed, 29 May 2013 3:04pm
You don't explain if the circle should be selected or not when doing the base, shadow, and atmosphere layers...
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(ID: 174242, pid: 0) Steve on Mon, 31 December 2012 3:28pm
On which layer do you have to apply the effect settings? Because I always apply them on the base layer and i don't know how to get the "atmosphere layer" like you have it
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(ID: 168575, pid: 0) John on Sat, 24 November 2012 3:17pm
Your tutorial is far incomplete. Sorry. Got too much problems with the ctrl+c ctrl+v on that base layer part of it. You should spend a little more time explaining the process a little better.
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(ID: 161300, pid: 0) Hafa on Sat, 10 November 2012 10:17am
uhm , on page 2 i have trouble with the atmosphere, when the atmosphere layer is on , the whole circle is pitch black
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(ID: 155426, pid: 0) Yupa on Thu, 11 October 2012 10:43pm
Christian you're the man! I've tried it out myself and the planet looks even better than the actual photos taken in space :) Not that I've been there, but it's hard to even find the real photo with such excell sharpness. Thank you so much for this tutorial, and I fully agree with Erik here: "the textures really make the difference". Amazing! Once more many thanks Cristian.
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(ID: 94908, pid: 0) Erik on Wed, 14 March 2012 11:02pm
Nice, The textures really make a difference!
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