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"Solar Atmosphere" - Sun Tutorial [Image Heavy]


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This tutorial is available as a PDF. Click here to view or download it

Solar Atmosphere tutorial.
This tutorial requires you know basic use of all tools on the main toolbar. Read the documentation if you need aditional help.
Required Plugins: 
Part A - The Sun's Texture
Step 1:
Create a new canvas. You can chose any size that has a 2:1 ratio but I'm going to go with 800x400 and fill it with black.
Step 2:
Create another new canvas, keeping the same 2:1 ratio but make it considerably bigger. This will be our 'Sun' canvas.
Step 3:
On the sun's canvas, keep your primary colour as black, and make your secondary as a light grey. I chose #969696.
Step 4:
Render clouds (Effects -> Render -> Clouds) with a low scale and high roughness, keep the blend mode as 'Normal' for now.
Step 5:
Render clouds again on the same layer, but make the blend mode 'Difference'. Change the scale and roughness slightly.
Step 6:
Duplicate cloud layer and, using whatever method you like, scale the clouds up by about 3 - 4 times.
Step 7:
Deselect and apply a Furblur effect (Effects -> Blurs -> Furblur). Play with the settings as you like, but I changed the Repetitions to 22.18, Main Angle to 10.89 and Src Colour to 0.08.
Step 8:
Duplicate that layer and apply a Dents effect (Effects -> Distort -> Dents). Make the scale around 90-100.
Step 9:
Change the top 2 cloud layer's blend mode's to "Screen". Flatten (Image -> Flatten, or, Ctrl+Shift+F).
Step 10:
Apply a small Surface Blur (Effects -> Blurs -> Surface Blur). I just used the Radius as 5 and the Threshold as 10.


Part B - The Sun's Shape and Glow
Step 11:
Render Shape3D (Effects -> Render -> Shape3D).
Turn Lighting Off and crank the scale right up. You can use whatever settings you want after that, but I used these:
Before you press 'OK', turn on Anti-Alias and make it around 2 or 3.
Step 12:
Select it with the Move Selected Pixels tool and Copy (Edit -> Copy, or, Ctrl+C).
Go over to your first canvas, should be filled with black, create a new layer and Paste (Edit -> Paste, or, Ctrl+V).
Click "Keep Canvas Size" and scale to a size of your choice.
Step 13:
Create 4 new layers. For simplistic reasons, make the top 2 "Outer 1" and "Outer 2" respecively, and the other 2 "Inner 1" and "Inner 2" respectively. 
Step 14:
Select White as your primary colour and select the Magic Wand tool.
Select your sun's layer and click on the outside of your sun.
Select the layer Outer 1 and press Backspace to fill that area with white. Select the layer Outer 2 and do the same thing.
Step 15:
With the selection still active, inver the selection (Edit -> Invert Selection, or, Ctrl+I) and Select the Inner 1 layer. Press Backspace to fill and do the same with Inner 2.
Step 16:
Hide both the Outer 1 & 2 layers and make sure the Inner 1 layer is selected.
Apply a Gaussian Blur (Effects -> Blurs -> Gaussian Blur) and make the value anything which gives you the effect of (or similar to) this:
Step 17:
Select the Inner 2 layer and apply a Gaussian Blur to give the blur similar to this:
Step 18:
Select your sun's layer and select the outside using the Magic Wand tool. Select the Inner 1 layer, invert selection and press Delete.
Repeat for Inner 2.
Step 19:
Hide your Inner layers and unhide your Outer Layers and apply the same technique to the Inner layers (blur at different amounts, delete original space). Then unhide all hidden layers.
You should end up with this:


Part C - Solar Flares and Additional Glow
Step 20:
Create a new canvas, same size as the very first one (the one you were using in Part B).
Make your primary colour Black, and your secondary a dark grey. I chose #404040.
Render clouds (you might need to change the blend mode back to 'Normal') and you'll want to keep the values similar to the default values.
Step 21:
Apply a dents effect and crank the scale up to 200. Duplicate that layer and apply a Brightness and Contrast adjustment (Adjustments -> Brightness and Contrast, or, Ctrl+Shift+T) at about these settings:
Step 22:
Use now to apply any additional effects you want, but if not flatten now and Copy the entire canvas.
Step 23:
Go back to your main canvas.
Make a new layer above the Outer layers and Paste. Change the blend mode to 'Screen'.
Step 24:
Select the Gradient Tool. Select Radial Gradients and change 'Colour Mode' to 'Transparency Mode'.
Step 25:
Click and hold at the middle-bottom on the sun, then drag upwards until the flares are just breaking the glow's barrier. You can be the judge here on how big you want them.
Step 26:
Duplicate that layer, apply the radial blur technique again and apply a small Gaussian Blur (around 25).
Step 27:
Flatten the image.


Part D - Colouring
Step 28:
Open up a Curves adjustment (Adjustment -> Curves, or, Ctrl+Shift+M).
Change the Transfer Map to RGB and adjust the Red and Blue curves accordingly:
Step 29:
Open up Curves again and change the Transfer Map back to Luminosity, change accordingly:
It should currently look like this (or similar):
Step 30:
Duplicate the layer and change the blend mode to 'Colour Dodge' and the opacity to around 150.
Duplicate again, turn the blend mode to 'Reflect' and opacity to around 75.
Step 31:
Optional: Apply a Brightness and Contrast adjustment with the contrast around 10-20.
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@Dryda - A great tutorial and clear and easy to follow.  I never realized before, that you could have more than one canvas going on at the same time :)


Just two things where I stumbled:


Step 19 - it may be helpful to say to Blur the Inner 1 & 2 layers.  I wasn't sure which layers to blur.

Step 23 - shouldn't it be the 2nd canvas?  As the sun was on the first one.



So ................. DA - DA here is my attempt and a big thanks for the tutorial.




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That's awesome Pixey! So realistic. Nicely done.

Can't wait to get back from work to continue with mine.

I understand where you are coming from about which canvas to use for which part. I had to think a bit as well and got it the wrong way round at first.

I'm sure when Dryda reads these replies he will update the tut.

Edited by Goonfella



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Here is my effort. I added a bit of extra interest by replicating a transit of Mercury across the face of the sun. Mercury and Venus are the only two planets we can see transiting from Earth because, as I am sure everyone already knows, these are the only two planets closer to the sun than we are.


In the final step I added an extra layer below the sun layer, did a radial gradient , colours at default, and used the Fire plugin to add a bit more fire to the edge of the sun. After a bit of fiddling I settled on blend mode Additive, opacity 80 for this layer.


I also think that if you stop at the point just before you add the colour this technique makes a great moon. Anyway enough chat, here is my image -



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