Create Awesome Abstract Nebula Circle Shape in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show the steps I took to create this Create Awesome Abstract Nebula Circle Shape in Photoshop. This is an intermediate level tutorial so some steps can be a little tricky for beginners, but why not have a try!

Along the way, I will show you how you can combine the liquify filter with nebula texture and cloud to render some very interesting effect :)

Here is a preview of the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

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OK let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need to the following stock:

Nebula Texture – by =Moonchilde-Stock

Step 1

Create a new document sized 800px * 1080px, filter the background with a dark grey color, and draw a base circle on a new layer:

Use Lasso Tool with around 30px feather to draw a selection, set the foreground colour to dark purple, and render some cloud into it:

Compress this cloud layer to a very thin strip, then warp it as shown below:

Apply the Twirl filter to make it look like a half circle:

Erase the unnecessary bits and attach it to the base circle:

Duplicate this layer a few times, rotate and resize them until they form a full circle shape roughly, then fill the background layer with black colour:

Step 2

Load the nebula texture into Photoshop, use Lasso Tool with 30px feather to select a portion:

Copy and paste into onto our image, warp it according to the base circle:

Bring up the liquify filter (Shift + Ctrl + X) and use the following settings:

Apply it to the position shown below:

and you will have the following effect:

Duplicate this nebula layer a few times, resize them and put them around the circle as shown below:

When you duplicate the nebula layer, make sure you adjust the layer opacity for each duplicate layer for some image depth:

and here is the effect so far:

Note: make sure you use a soft eraser to get rid of the rough edges when necessary:

Step 3

Now we’re getting into the liquify filter + cloud effect. Again we draw a selection with Lasso Tool (30px feather), render some cloud inside it, hit Ctrl + L and apply the following Levels settings to it:

Apply the liquify filter to this cloud as shown below: (you’re free to use whatever tip size you wish)

and you will have similar effect to this:

Attach this layer to the circle, also duplicate a  few times and scatter them around the canvas:

Step 4

Now we can put all those layers we made into a group, then duplicate this group twice, resize them and move them to the positions shown below.

You should also merge the layers under the duplicated group together, and lower their layer opacity:

Optionally, you can paint some stars/dots around the circle. You can find lots of star brushes around the net:

Step 5

I decided to use some alternative colour scheme for this image. So I go ahead and added the following three adjustment layers:

Black and White:

Curves:

Color Balance:

and here is the effect so far:

Step 6

We’re almost done! To adjust the final effect, I flatten the image and duplicate the background, then apply the following Reduce Noise filter:

Then use the dodge and burn tool to add some highlights and shadows around the image, as shown below:

and here is the final effect: (click to enlarge)

That’s it! I hope you enjoy this tutorial and find it useful! Till next time, have a great day!

Categories: Abstracts,Drawing

Tags: ,,

  • ali

    Awesome tutorial, it looks cool!

  • http://corneliamladenova.deviantart.com/ Cornelia Mladenova

    Wow! Thank you so much! Very useful tut, just tweeted it and will try to make it these days :)

  • matttm

    *** i cant get those end colors

  • http://virtuater.com bas

    awesome techniques I have never seen befor,e explained so clear with few visuals! Very nice tutorial, gz.

  • http://www.psd-dude.com PsdDude

    It looks amazing! I will try it! thanks

  • http://www.artesdostol.blogspot.com Stol

    Muito show, parabéns.
    Fiz uma parecida e colocarei em meu blog, Paz.

  • http://Johnnythaitran.com Johnny

    Dear PSDVault,

    The second step is very confusing in this tutorial and has got me stumped.

    2. Use Lasso Tool with around 30px feather to draw a selection, set the foreground colour to dark purple, and render some cloud into it:

    Where do you draw the selection on? On the same layer as the circle? Or do you create a new fill layer and then use the lasso tool? Also, how do you choose the foreground color to be purple?

  • James Qu

    @Johnny: you draw the selection on a new layer, use the colour picker in toolbox to set foreground colour.

    This is immediate to advance level tut, so you will need to have prior knowledge to all settings mentioned in the tutorial.

  • CrowJaM

    I can’t finish 3 step.. How the hell you maked it ? How to compress this to very thin ?

  • http://firefx.co.uk buffy

    Its only advanced because the explanation is not very good. If the steps were set out correctly it would be fine for anyone.

  • James Qu

    @CrowJaM: you render the cloud on a new layer first, then basically apply the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) on this new layer, then compress it down.
    Hope this helps.

  • Stygx

    awesome tut

    check my end result (i did not follow every step)

    http://i474.photobucket.com/albums/rr106/Meinl65/Nebula.jpg

  • James Qu

    @Stygx: nice work, would you mind submitting it to PSD Vault Flickr Group? http://www.flickr.com/groups/psdvault/

  • http://www.magento-themes.jextn.com Magento Themes

    I never knew this was possible with photoshop alone, but now I do, Thanks for sharing this information.

  • http://tutorialfox.com Tutorialfox

    Great Tutorial. It looks simple, but the result is nice

  • Sarath

    It looks amazing! I will try it! thanks

  • Mike

    Awsome tutorial, but there seem to be a problem (on my side?) regarding the color adjustments. I do not get a result even close to the one submitted in the tutorial.

    What I’ve done is simply to add the 3 color adjustments (black and white, curves and color balance) on top of all the layers, but it doesn’t work.

    Help would be apreciated.

  • http://gunfiregf.deviantart.com Kevin Nitschmann

    the nebula stock looks like the work of moonchilde-stock from Deviantart. You might wanna credit her here.

    Other than that nice tutorial

  • http://www.psdbox.com PSD Box

    That thing you did with the Warp Tool is Awesome.

    I also like how you took advantage off the nebulae colors. It definitely gave me some ideas.

  • Luxicon

    The nebula texture link isn’t correct, where can I find that picture? Deviantart says that the file cannot be found?!

    plz help, it looks to cool to do nothing :)

  • http://www.logospecialist.net Imran Sheikh

    Amazing tutorial. I tried to create this and i have done 80% with the help of this tutorial.
    Love to learn from here!
    http://www.logospecialist.net
    http://www.logospecialist.net/blog

  • DarkSlayer

    Everything is awesome i followed most of the steps really ok and easy.
    but just when i get to the black & white filter i just stuck mate.

    when i do that filter everything just turn black/white and after i do curves and color balance it all ends up in the same colors and it just looks ridiculous any help would be appreciated.
    Thx

  • James Qu

    @DarkSlayer: for curves adjustment layer, make sure you choose the channels as shown in the step.
    Hope this helps!

  • 3-

    很厉害

  • PorschaSimone

    Awesome turnout!! Im trying this one out ASAP!!

  • http://dukundesign.blogspot.com/ Dukun Design

    beautifully…

  • Cissy

    I’ve tried it, but there is no way I’m getting the two different colours on the central star. Mine are all the same one, and I’ve followed yr instructions to the letter… could you perhaps omitted something? either way, fantastic work!!

  • Bob

    I could seem to get the two different colors either, I’ve followed it exactly and can’t seem to do it, anyone gimme some help? thanks.

  • http://www.psdvault.com PSD Vault

    @646cf50b2b41a199ce01c7ecdb4a684e:disqus Don’t worry if you can’t get the exact same colour – if you’re able to warp the nebula shapes and form a circle, that’s good enough. 

  • Bob

    Yeah I know, i’ve done the rest of it up to that step (and it looks awesome btw) but i’d still like to know how to make a color effect like that, as the steps in the tutorial don’t work for me, it all just goes one color.

  • http://www.psdvault.com PSD Vault

    @646cf50b2b41a199ce01c7ecdb4a684e:disqus in step 5, after you apply the black and white adjustment layer, did you add the curves and color balance adjustment layer with the settings shown in this step?

  • Bob

    Yep, exactly the same, re done all the steps many times in case i did something wrong and i still can’t get it to work…

  • artmiss

    I just LOVE it ! its so cool. Thanks for sharing this tutorial

  • Jarnseth2

    I’m having trouble with the color effect in step 5. 

  • james craig

    I’ve tried it, but there is no way I’m getting the two different colours on the central star. Mine are all the same one, and I’ve followed yr instructions to the letter…

  • http://www.drupal-web-designers.com/ Drupal Web development

    Interesting Blog.. wil try it

  • Jkokumo

    i did this and it was so exciting to make

  • Web Hosting

    looks like real flame! cool tutorial :)

  • http://www.adsyou.com/ سيارات للبيع في الاردن

    I’ve followed it exactly and can’t seem to do it, anyone gimme some help? thanks.

  • Taupo Accommodation

    Sizzling effect! very nice…

  • Josue Rdz2014

    awesome

  • Building Inspections Auckland

    Perfectly done!  Good job man!

  • LongneckReactionGuy

    The Nebula file is no longer available :( 

  • Myalicat

    The Nebula is back up again

  • aHsan

    Ahh i love it

  • Nikolai

    how do i compress the cloud layer

  • Ranndy

    ….did not work for me…when i applied adjust layers my whole thing got messed up :(

  • Ihsan Taj

    I LOVE IT…….THANX SIR

  • Guest

    The colours do not seem to look like they should. I followed all the steps and everything looks bright purple and yellow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xAndyexecutionx Andy Eshegovich

    I followed all the steps, and still, everything is dark blue and the nebula is bright yellow.

  • copy

    just copy other nebula pictures and paste it in your work? great :/
    aha you must modify slightly – really awesome :/
    why bothering? just copy some one else work and paste it in your – simplicity is good in graphic design

  • Lucidtutorial

    The quality and content is great, and it is very quick and
    easy to follow along. I really look forward to seeing more. Thank you so much!

  • Graphics Clipping Path

    Interesting inspiring. Thanks for share

  • amanda

    the color didnt work fo me and i followed the instructions exactly, i dont know why its not working :/ ive redone it over and over. this is compatible with photoshop cs6 right? :/

  • Dalia mabry

    me too, I can’t get the result :(