Create Awesome Planet Explosion Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show the methods you can use to create this awesome planet explosion effect in Photoshop. We will use a few simple manipulation and selection techniques, mixing with custom brush painting and finally, adjustment layers for adding colors.

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

This is an immediate level tutorial and some steps can be a little tricky, have a try!

Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in CS6 – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6.

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 the following stocks:

Rock Texture

Space Brush (Pick a few sets from the list)

Debris Brush

If you have any difficulty completing Step 2, please check out this video tutorial below:

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1400px * 900px with black background. We will start building the planet core using the rock texture.

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool with 20px feather to select a circle below: (hold down the “Shift” while selecting for a perfect circle)

1 sel

Copy and paste the selection over to our document, reduce its size and place it on the left side of the canvas:

1 paste

Use a soft eraser to remove parts of the layer as shown below:

1 erase

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping masks to this layer:

Black and White

1 bw


1 lvs


1 curves

And you will have the following effect so far:

1 effect

Repeat the steps above to add a few more pieces of the rock texture, and form a full planet shape as shown below:

1 effect 2

Step 2

We will add break-apart effect with the debris brushes downloaded at the beginning of the tutorial:

2 brush

Go to the rock texture file and create a new layer:

2 brush layer

Use the debris brush to paint some particles over this new layer:

2 paint

Hold down the “Alt” key and left-click the “brush” layer on the layer pane to make a selection over this layer:

2 sel

2 ants

Maintain this selection, and go back to the background layer of rock texture and copy the selection. Paste it over to our document and re-size it as shown below:

2 resize

Use a big soft eraser to fade the edges of this particle layer to add a bit of depth:

2 fade

Step 3

We will render some gas/cloud to spice up the explosion effect: (I used this brush set here to paint this effect)

3 cloud

Duplicate this cloud layer, compress and rotate the duplicated layer as shown below:

3 warp

Repeat the above process and add some more cloud effect around the planet:

3 effect

Step 4

We will add some extra pieces of rocks around the exploding planet. We can simply use the method described in step 1, and use the free transform tool to rotate the layer into the angle as shown below:

Hint: You can also use the Quick Selection tool to select a few larger rocks from the texture.

4 more rock 2

4 more rock

Use the space brush you downloaded, paint a few space patterns/objects around the canvas:

4 brush

4 brush 2

and here is my overall effect so far:

4 effect

Step 5

We will work on adding colours in this final step. To do this, add the following 2 adjustment layers on top of all previous layers:

Selective Color

5 sel white

5 sel neu

5 sel black

Layer mask on this selective color adjustment layer:

5 sel mask

Color Balance

5 col mide

Layer mask on this color balance adjustment layer:

5 col mask


5 vib

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


That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy going through it and find it useful. Drop me a comment below if you have any question.

Till next time, have a great day!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

  • Show Comments

  • radar

    very good

  • Stilluff Fogg

    Um.. A lot of parts missing here? My first result doesn’t even look anything similar to this. Even the colors are way off using your exact settings?

    We will work on adding colours in this final step. To do this, add the following 2 adjustment layers on top of all previous layers:

    You say 2, yet you add a third. Then you suddenly have 2 pictures of Layer masks you’ve never mentioned before?

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