Well, wherever it went, I spent it advancing, improving, and otherwise adding more realism and/or coolism to that planetsculpting technique. So, since it's become a quite a bit better, I figured I'd share it with the rest of you. I hadn't realized how much work it would be. If they did one thing, those two years made me forget how kriffing long it takes to make these tutorial things. And this one has over two hundred images, if you take into account the fact that each image has a copy of itself. And the coding--oh, man. I'm not even going to go into detail on how blasted confusing that was.
But, anyways, how, exactly, did I improve it? Well, take a look for yourself.
I'd say that's improved, no? This is what we'll be creating in this tutorial.
Well, enough of my rambling. Onto the tutorial. If you're considering undertaking this long planetsculpting quest, I would recommend that, if you haven't already, you do the old tutorial, first. Maybe even a few times. This one will be much easier to understand if you do. Even then, it might get a little confusing at parts. And if it gets too confusing in any part--namely, if I put the wrong pictures with the wrong text, which can be really confusing-- tell me where I dun goof'd and I'll try to fix it as best I can.
Recommended: (Just get them anyways, really, it'll save you a bunch of time)
Gaussian Blur Plus (Not necessary but just better and cooler)
Right, then! Let's begin.
Oh, and by the way, every single image on here can be clicked to be viewed at full size. Yes. All one-hundred-and-thirteen of them. Ugh. You're welcome.
Part 1.1: Land
Step one! First and foremost, you're going to want to render some clouds, black and white. They should have a fairly large scale and be a bit rougher than default. I'll be using:
Now, add another layer, and render some more clouds. The scale should be smaller, much smaller, and the roughness should be a bit higher.
Now, Posturize both of the cloud layers all the way down to 2. Set the upper layer to Multiply. Now, you have your continents and your oceans.
(Optional: If you think your continents/oceans aren't big/small enough for you, you can repeat the above steps on another layer. I do this often, but I like how the continents look for now, so I won't be doing it in this tutorial. It all depends on the randomness of the clouds and your personal preference.)
Now, add another layer. Select two 'Earthy' colors, I'll do green and brown. Then go to render and random lines.You'll want to set them to be about like this:
Thickness (Max): 20
Thickness (Min) 2
Color Mode: Random Primary/Secondary colors
(Leave all the rest of the stuff set as default, except for...)
Draw Curves: Check!
Now, add another layer. Select two more Earthy colors and render random lines again. But this time make the Quantity and Max Thickness lower.
Thickness (Max): 10
(Everything else stays the same)
Merge those two layers together, and add a new one underneath it. Color it all green (Preferably a different green from what you've used so far). Merge those two layers together.
Now, Hue/Saturation time. The Hue you can adjust to your liking, but I'll keep it the same. The saturation and lightness, however, will be lowered significantly.
Now, blur it. Gaussian blur. I'm using Gaussian Blur Plus just 'cause it's cooler. Radius to 45. Duplicate that layer and hide one of them, we'll use it in a bit.
Select the visible one (Preferably this one should be on the bottom) and Distort>Dent it. This will make it have a bit more of a believable texture to it.
Now, select the top one (Yes, I did it backwards in the pictures, but I fixed it). You'll change the settings around to give it a bit more of a grungy feel to it.
Now, set your magic wand to Global, and tolerance to 0. Select the black-and-white continent layer and click on your oceans. With the selection still in place, select your land texture layer and hit delete. Do that to just the smoother, lower layer. Keep the top, rougher one in place. Yes, I realize I didn't do that in the picture. I'll fix it in a moment.
Now on the rougher top layer, Go to Stylize>Relief. I'm going to set the angle to 180 just because why not? Your texture will get a bit of a 3Dish feeling to it.
Now, delete the oceans from it with the magic wand tool like you did above with the other layer. Set the layer to overlay, and adjust the Opacity to your liking. I'm going to go with 227.
Part 1.2: The Oceans
Now, hide both of those layers. You got your land ready, It's time for the oceans. First and foremost, select that black-and-white layer. Select your oceans (Black or white, you choose whichever one looks more like an ocean to you) with the magic wand tool, again on global/0. Delete.
New layer underneath the now-white-or-black-depending-on-your-choice land layer. Fill it with a nice, dark blue.
It's not quite a photorealistic ocean blue, though, is it? Hue/Saturation time again. I'm going to lower the saturation and lightness, and depending on what color you used originally, you may wish to adjust the Hue ever-so-slightly.
Now things might become a little complicated and difficult to understand. I made this very late at night and was kind of making it up as I went along. I'll try to make it easy to follow along.
Duplicate the white (Or perhaps black) land layer, and color it a lighter blue.
Now blur it. Radius: ~100.
Time for Dents again! I love Dents.
Now, go back and duplicate that white layer again. Color it blue, again, and blur it, again. This time, though, use a much smaller radius. I'll use 55.
It's a little difficult to see which one is which, so I'll use Hue/Saturation to make them a little easier to tell apart. Or, it was supposed to, at least... It turns out good, so let's just do it anyways. Unlike the other time's we've used this adjustment, we'll set the saturation and the lightness higher.
After that, dent it with the same settings used previously. Forgot a screenshot.
Now, we'll adjust the opacity of those two layers.The lower, darker one should be around 100. The brighter, upper layer should be slightly less, around 90. I unhid the land layers for this.
Now, duplicate the white land layer once more. Color it, again. Blur it, again, but with a very lowish radius. I'll use 23.
Now, do that again. Duplicate, Color, blur. But the blur this time should be very, very low, like 4. Adjust the opacity of those two layers to your liking. You don't want them to be too bright, but you want them to still be visible. I actually forgot what I used, so you'll have to mess around with the setting yourself.
Now, add yet another layer at the very top of the stack. Render>Random lines again. These will soon be your clouds, so make the color white! Wouldn't want green and brown clouds...
Thickness (Max): 25
Thickness (Min): 2
Keep the curves on.
Now, use your eraser tool with a fairly large brush size to erase a lot of it. Don't go too crazy, but don't be too precise, either. You want it to look realistically random. Once you're done with that, blur to around, let's say, 14. Forgot to take a screenshot of that part.
Next up, Dents, again! Dents is a wonderful tool.
Now your clouds look much more fluffy and light.
~The following is optional~
I want to add a bit more of a personality to that rather dull, dark green/brown layer that is my land texture. Merge them together, if you haven't done so already. Then, duplicate it, and set it to, say, Color Dodge. (At least... I think it was Color Dodge. I forgot the screenshot, again... If it's not, just, uh, mess around with blending modes and opacity until you like it.)
Now, let's add a bit more color, shall we? Select the outside of your land with the magic wand as you add a new layer. Make a new color, shall we? CCA166 will be the color I'm using. On that new layer, paint the outside (Where the oceans are) of your land. Now it looks like all sand. Or something like that.
Now, dents! Again! I actually forgot to take a screenshot of the settings I used. I was tired. But just mess around until you like the way it looks.
Next, select the outside of the land layer again, and delete that from your sand layer.
Then, blur it. I used 14 radius.
Dents, once more. I'll be making it look similar to our fluffy clouds.
Once you've done that, as usual, select the outside of your land layer and delete it from the sand layer.
Next, lower that layer's opacity so it looks more realistic. It adds a bit of a stylish touch to your land, doesn't it?
Save your progress!
Part 2: The Planet
Now, enough with the texture, it's time to make your planet an actual ball of dirt and water in the sky. Ctrl+Shift+F to flatten your image into one layer.
Now, time for the wonderful Shape3D. Great plugin, easy to use, even if it has a lot of complicated-looking buttons on it.
Whatever you do, don't use Full Sphere map. I'm going to use Plane Map (Scaleable) but just because it looks good on this particular texture. I quite often use Half Sphere map, too. It depends on what looks better for that individual texture.
Now, there are a couple settings you're going to have to change. Anti-Alias should be set to 5, and Lighting should be turned off. You read right. No lighting. We'll do it ourselves, later.
There! Now you've got a planet-looking thing! Time to make it look even better. First, copy the layer and make a new image. Larger, this time. I'll use 1024/768, to match my monitor's resolution. Make the background layer black, and add a new layer. Paste your planet there. If you have the align object plugin, make your planet centered.
Add two new layers to the image. One below the planet, and one ontop of it. Use magic wand set to 0% to select the outside of your planet.
Now, select a skyish blue color. Paint bucket the outside above the planet. Hit Ctrl+I to invert the selection, and go to the layer below the planet. Paint bucket a circle behind the planet. You shouldn't actually see the effects of this step except on the layers window.
Now, select the upper layer. This is going to be our inner atmosphere. Gaussian blur to a middleish number. I'll use 40.
Select the outside of the planet once more and delete it from the upper atmosphere layer.
Now go to your lower layer, and blur again. This time, use a much smaller number for the radius. I'll use 20.
Select the outside of the planet again, Invert Selection, and delete the giant blue mass in the lower atmosphere layer. This will again be hard to tell what you just did, but you'll get rid of some annoying jaggedy edges that would become very visible later on.
Put the lower atmosphere layer above your planet ,and merge those two together. If you did the above steps right, it shouldn't look any different.
Now, select the outside of the planet again, and invert selection. New layer, and fill with black. This should cover your planet entirely. Cool-looking blue ring, eh?
I changed the color of the background layer here so you can better see what I'm doing. Hold shift and enlarge that black circle. A lot. You want to create something of a crescent shape of visible planet beneath it. This will be the shadow of your planet.
Now blur it with a semi-high number. I'll use 105.
Select the outside of the planet again, go to the shadow layer, and delete everything outside the planet. Should look like this if you invert your background layer.
Now, we don't want that side of the planet to be completely black. We put a lot of work into that texture. We should still see a little of it. Set the shadow layer's opacity to a faintly lower number so that you can just barely see the planet. I'll use 245.
Now, go back to your atmosphere layer. Select the gradient tool, and set your colors to black and white. Set the mode of the gradient tool to transparency, very important. Then create a gradient along the atmosphere layer like in the screenshot. You'll want to follow the shadow you made, in a sense. It should be very visible on the light side, and almost invisible on the opposite, darker, night side.
Now, that's all there is to the planet! For now, anyways. Time for the background.
Part 3: Space: That Colorful Backdrop
Now, let's make space, shall we? Your planet looks rather lonely sitting on a dull black background.
Go to effects>Noise>Add Noise. Add some--
AAH! No, not like that. Darn it, I'm tired.
Go to the Background layer and add some noise. That's better. These first stars are going to be more intense and scattered than the rest.
Color Saturation: 0 (Always have it set to 0)
Add a new layer and hide your planet/shadow/atmosphere.
Paint the new layer black, and add some moar noise. We're going to be using a lot of noise. This layer should have more coverage, and less intensity.
Set that layer to additive. We'll be doing this a lot, too.
Another layer, black, and noise. Intensity should be lower, Coverage should be higher, again.
Once again, Additive. Now your starfield looks a bit better, don't it? It still looks a bit... Static, to me, too perfect, and not random enough. You could stop here, but I'm not going to you. If you want to keep going, good for you! Let's add some more personality to it.
Add a new layer. Get your paint brush ready and create a blob. It should be black. I'm using white for the sake of the screenshot, so you can easier see it.
You'll want to blur it, next. Radius: ~70
Add noise, a lot of it. Just repeat what you did on the other three layers, but all piled into one layer. There'll be the lighter, less intense noise, the medium noise, and the more intense, rarer noise. Now set that layer to additive. It'll blend with your background layer and make it look more unique.
Now repeat that step, starting from the 'blob' part, two or three more times. Don't be afraid to even have them atop each other, making an even more clustered, intense look to certain parts. Don't do it too much, though. You don't want it to become too clustered.
Now, new layer, again. Paint along some of your more thick star areas with some colorful brushes. I'm going to use a blue theme, but you can use whatever you like.
Blur that layer to 70.
Now, care to take a guess as to what we'll be doing next? Yes, dents! Gotta love dents.
Fluffy space clouds.
Now, set that layer to Lighten, and lower the Opacity to 100.
Add a new layer above that, and paint white around the parts you want to be more highlighted than the others. Don't make it all highlighted, but you can do most if you feel like it. Blur the white to 55.
Set that layer to Overlay. Now your clouds have some nice glowyness to them.
Your foreground spaceclouds are a little lonely, though, aren't they? New layer, below your space clouds. Random lines, all white. The same settings you used earlier should still be in there, but I'll repeat them just in case.
Thickness (Max): 25
Thickness (Min): 2
Now, use the recolor tool and go crazy with a bunch of different colors. Even ones that aren't part of your color scheme. Like my scheme is blue, and I put green and red in there. You'll see why in a bit.
Now, blur that layer. I think I just left the same radius in there, 70.
Lower the opacity of that layer to a very low number, like 40.
New layer above it, and go crazy with white blobs again.
Then blur it to, let's say, 55. Set the layer to Overlay.
Now, go to that mismatched background cloud layer. Use Color>Single Hue to make it better match your color scheme. Why didn't we just make it blue (Or whatever your color scheme is) in the first place, you ask? Well, the alternate colors are all now that color, but they gave it some variety in shades of the color.
Or the green and red didn't look as cool as I thought they would when I kind of made this up as I went along. Either/or.
Well, there you go! Your planet's got some nice background to it, lookin' good, eh? That's all for the background.
But what about... Some other little additions? Those things like the Rings, and those cities? What about... Extras?
Part 4: Extras
Still with me? Good for you. Your planet's good, and your background's good, but we're going to make the whole image itself even better.
The first thing we'll add is rings! This involves a modified version of jsonchiu's fantastic Saturn-esque rings tutorial. Good tutorial right there.
First, add a new layer, as per usual. Way 'top 'o the stack, above everything else. Now select a lighter color that matches your color scheme and select the pencil tool. Draw a... Blob. Thing. Don't put it too close to the planet, but don't put it too far away. Well, I suppose you could put it close, based on personal preference. But I'll do it like so:
Now, radial blur! Full 360 angle, everything else remains default. It'll get so blurred you won't even be able to see it, but no worries!
Duplicate that layer, like, a dozen times or so and merge them together. The rough-looking beginnings of your ring will begin to become visible.
I duplicated the duplicate/merged thing a couple more times, making it even more vivid. Here's what you should have.
Now, radial blur again, but this time with an angle of 30. Your rough circle thing will blur into a more smooth ring-like... thing.
A view of what it should look like zoomed out:
Now, go to Image>Rotate/Zoom. You can drag that ball and move the ring to your liking. I'm going to give it a really weird, obscure angle to be all hipster. Ordinary, straight rings are too mainstream.
Now, go back to your planet layer and select the outside with the magic wand tool, as you've done about a dozen times by now. Bug then go back to your ring layer, and use the lasso tool to add to the selection. You want to select the part of the ring that is closest to you.
Hit Ctrl+I to invert the selection and hit delete. Now your ring goes behind the planet!
Now, that's all well and good, but, if you look at a picture of Saturn, you'll see that its rings aren't always completely visible. The planet casts a shadow on the part that's behind it. So let's add a shadow, shall we?
Draw something faintly like that on a new layer. It doesn't have to be pretty, it's going to be a guide of sorts. It doesn't really have to be at an angle like that, I guess. I just felt like having some fun.
Alright, lower the opacity so you can see through it. Draw a line around where your ring would need to be shaded. It should be around where the shadow on your planet starts. Now duplicate the ring layer. Rename one top, and rename one bottom, if your ring goes vertical like mine does. You might want right and left if you did it horizontally. Hide the bottom layer. Or whatever you chose. Just hide one.
With the top layer selected, set your colors to black and white. Select the gradient tool, and keep it set to transparency mode. Draw the gradient along where your guide is, like in the screenshot. The top should fade along the guide, and the bottom should be gone.
Now, do the opposite. Hide the top layer, and unhide and select the bottom layer. Repeat what you just did; draw a gradient on the bottom layer. Only this time, make it so the top becomes invisible, rather than the bottom.
Now, select whichever one is on the shadowed side, and hit adjustments>Black and white.
Now, Adjustments>Brightness and Contrast. Set the Brightness to all the way dark, and the contrast all the way up. It'll make it all black—but far too faint to be able to see. We don't want that, now, do we?
Simple solution: Duplicate. Duplicate. Duplicate. Duplicate. Merge, merge, merge, duplicate. Duplicate. Etcetera. Just duplicate/merge the layer until you're satisfied with it. It should be dark enough so that you can see it in front of the space clouds, but it should still be transparent enough to see the stars and such through it.
Great! Now your rings are all done. But your planet looks kind of... Dead. Well, not dead. But uninhabited. Let's add some life, eh?
Hide the Shadow layer, making your planet look really odd and globally lit. Don't worry, we'll fix it later. If your rings are in front of your land, hide them too.
Now, zoom in real close to a continent or something. Just make sure it's on the night side. Add a new layer, above the shadow layer. Now with a small paint brush, draw black along the shores. Maybe use the circle tool to make some rings. Maybe make some squares, or triangles! Be creative, and be patient. It's not a fast thing to do.
Now, add some noise to it. You want some really intense noise, first off, but not too much coverage. Pretend its your starfield; add a lot of noise. The most you should add is low intensity, high coverage. You might want to hit Ctrl+F a few times when you do that.
Now, set the layer to Additive. There, some cities!
Those cities look awfully static. New layer time. Draw a bunch of lines connecting the cities. These will be air traffic, like airspeeders or something like that. If they pass through clouds, you can very carefully use the tip of the eraser to thin them out. Again, be creative. Thicker lines could be main routes, thinner for secondary.
Next, more noise. These should have a lot of low-intensity, high-coverage noise, but only a very little bit of high-intensity noise. They aren't cities, so they shouldn't be as bright.
Now, set it to additive.
Next, unhide the shadow layer. Look at that, your planet looks alive now! But... The lights look a bit too harsh. Let's add a couple more things.
Lower the opacity of the city layer and the traffic layer to your liking. It shouldn't be too bright, but you don't want it too dark.
It's a bit too white to look realistic. (You're all thinking, 'what else could he possibly add? This guy has too much time.' Yeah. No kidding.) Let's use the Color filter to make both layers very faintly yellow. Or whatever color you like. I like yellow because the majority of lights we have today are sort of yellow-tinted. Ish. Kind of. Right then, carrying on.
Duplicate both the traffic and city layers, and run a very faint blur on each. I use radius 4. Now they have a faint glow to them. Pretty.
Now, we're almost done. No, really. Just one more thing. Your planet and the background look great, but I want them to look like they're actually interacting with each other. Not that that's scientifically plausible, but hey, it'll look cool. New layer time! Draw along the edge of the planet's day side with the same color you use in your color scheme, preferably the atmosphere's color. In my case, sky blue. You don't want it too uniform. What you really want is for the line to be drawn nearest any space clouds behind your planet.
Duplicate that layer, and hide the top one. Blur the bottom one to about, let's say, 15 to 30.
Unhide the top one and use the Brightness & Contrast to make it all white.
Now, there's probably an easier way to do this, I bet. But I want the white line to be smaller, so run AA's Assistant about five times. It'll shrinkify it.
Adjust the layer's opacity and blend mode to your liking, it should resemble mine. I set mine to overlay and lowered the opacity a bit.
Now, time for Distort>Smudge! Or tools>Smudge. I have different versions on two different computers of mine. I'm not sure why, but they're in different menus. So, go to wherever your smudge is. You want to drag it outwards from the planet, all around. Doesn't have to be perfect.
Now, simply set it to overlay. Now the clouds and the atmosphere look like they're somehow connected.
And that's it! No, really. Nothing else. I promise. You're all done, and you've (hopefully) Got a nice lookin' planet there! Don't worry if your first result doesn't look like you want it to, with practice comes perfect. I've made literally hundreds of these things out of boredom (Though this particular one may be the most advanced yet). It takes a while to master the technique.
Edited by Ego Eram Reputo, 08 March 2012 - 05:34 AM.
Added PDF version for offline viewing