Design an Awesome Space Dancer Scene with Nebula Texture in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the processes I used to design this awesome space dancer scene with Nebula Texture in Photoshop. The inspiration of the tutorial in fact came from the latest “Prince of Persia” game cover (and yes, I do love this game very much!)

Together we will be using image adjustment options, layer blending, masking and filter effect. I will also like to emphasise that it’s very importance to choose the right stock texture for your design, as they will contribute and improve your final effect dramatically.

This is an fairly easy tutorial and I hope you enjoy it! Have a try!

Here is the preview of the final result:


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OK Let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


Nebula Texture 1

Nebula Texture 2

Step 1

Load the dancer image into Photoshop and resize the image to 1200px * 1477px. The purpose of resizing image is to make it rough the same size as the textures we’re going to apply on it.

Make a duplication of the background layer, hit Ctrl + Alt + Shift + B and apply the Black and White adjustment Tool with following settings:

1 bw

Name this duplicated layer “black and white”. Make another two duplications of this “black and white” layer and change the blending mode of those two duplicated to “Hard Light”.

You will have the following effect so far:

1 effect

Step 2

Load the “Nebula texture 1” image into Photoshop, copy and paste it onto our dancer document. This will create a new layer and let’s name it “nebula texture 1”.

On this “nebula texture 1” layer, go to Edit > Transform > Free Transform (or Ctrl + T), resize, rotate this layer as you wish, the ultimate goal is to find a position where the outer part of the nebula image is surrounding the model.

When you’re satisfied, right-click this nebula texture 1 layer and choose “create clipping mask”.

Here is the effect so far:

2 effect

Now we can go on and add some image adjustments layers for the nebula layer, so as to make it more stand-out.

From bottom to top, we add the following image adjustment layers: (make sure you tick the “use previous layer to create clipping mask” option for every one of them)

Color Balance

3 col balance


3 levels

On this Levels adjustment layer, apply the following layer mask:

3 level mask

Brightness and Contrast

3 bright

and you will have the following effect so far:

3 effect

Step 3

Load the “Nebula Texture 2” into Photoshop, copy and paste it onto our dancer document and use the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) to resize, rotate until it fits into the canvas.

Name this layer as “nebula texture 2” and change its blending mode to “soft light” and you will have the following effect: (I hide the previous “nebula texture 1” layer and its related adjustment layers)

3 effect 1

To add a bit more contrast to this “Nebula Texture 2” layer, we can add a Curve Adjustment layer  (Make sure to tick the “use previous layer to create clipping mask” option) with the following settings:

4 curves

Here is the effect afterwards:

4 effect

Step 4

Make all layers visible, you image should now look like this:

4 effect 1

Now we can do some retouch of the image. I personally feel the colour contrast is a bit too much, so I add another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top of all layers, with the following settings:

5 hue

You will now have this effect:

4 effect 3

You can of course try out other adjustment tools and see what result that bring you.

Step 5

Now we can add some motion into the image. To do this, flatten the image (I would suggest before you flatten the image, save a copy of the existing file, then the save the flattened image as a new psd file), duplicate the background layer once and go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and apply the following options:

5 rad blur

Change the blending mode of the duplicated layer to “Screen” and opacity to 80%, you will have the following final effect:

5 effect

OK, that’s it for this tutorial! You can of course add some of your own texture or filter effect and see what the end results are! Remember to always keep your own creativity!

Here is an alternative version I have: (adjusted the colour balance and add two planets into it)


Hope you enjoy this tutorial, drop me a comment if you have any question, I will try my best to help you out.

Cheers and have a nice 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

  • ryan

    first one here ……thx for the tut..i’m looking everywhere to find more tut about u guys

  • Prince Ali Abobwa

    No offense, but honestly you do no work at all except change colors and add effects. This tut would be a lot better if it included the making of the nebula.

  • James

    @Prince Ali Abobwa: thanks for the suggestion, my initial idea for this tutorial is simply showing what you can do with image adjustment layers, and I sort of trying to keep everything as easy as possible

    I also have a nebula tutorial here under abstract category, and I would love to do another one with different style in the near future.

  • Israel

    ótimo, como sempre.. abraço psdvault

  • clipping path services

    Awesome tutorial and the amount of details shared are excellent. Thanks for sharing.

  • wow amazing tutorials, i will follow this one

  • Skylines

    thanks for this tuturial..x] i really like your effects..x] and i decided to study being a graphic artist using your tuturials as my inspiration..i salute you..x]

  • this is what i came up for this tutorial

  • Evan

    awesome tutorial..
    uhm.. what is the function of curve tool?

    i’m a newbie in photoshop..

  • LPZ

    i followed this word for word and it didnt come out right i think it had something to do with blending option for the dancer layer duplicates, was Hard Light really the right one? bc thats where it started to look different.

  • CgBaran Tuts

    nice work i love it

  • Joey

    I seem to have a problem. When I put the clipping mask on the Nebula Texture 1 layer, the effect comes out quite a bit darker than what it should be at that stage.

    Any ideas what’s happening?

  • Hodero

    As always,it’s like Christmas.
    Great present!…thank you!

  • e11world

    Nice tutorial and I love the images used for it.

  • Awesome !!

  • Can you upload same tutorial but in video type ..

  • James

    @Imran: yeah video tutorial is something I wish to do for a long time, however I found it just top difficult and time-consuming to compile a video for a full-length tutorial.

  • Ezezez

    I am not understanding this part “On this Levels adjustment layer, apply the following layer mask:” What you suppose to do?

  • James

    @Ezezez: this basically means applying the mask as shown below in the screenshot, to do so you can use an eraser tool with soft brush settings apply. The screenshot gives you an indication of the part to erase.
    Hope this helps

  • Ezezez

    alrite thank… i will try it again later 2nite

  • ahbchan

    so cool!!! thank you!

  • colli

    where can i download this article’s psd file?!
    some steps i can’t understand

  • Nice tutorial ..

  • sara

    thaanx alot ….
    but how can i do step 1 with photoshope CS8?????
    i can’t found…..apply the Black and White adjustment Tool with following settings?????
    also the dancer pic i can’t download it!!!?only the pic

  • DI

    Cool tricks, Here I done another Space Dancer mixing displacement maps and HQ pictures, visit it here

    Enjoy it…
    By the way awesome blog!!! Go ahead and bring us more amazing art ^_^

  • Indra Azenx

    great tut!!


  • Excellent tut!

  • how do u load the nebula effect to photoshop anyways??

  • adrian

    I seem to have a problem. When I put the clipping mask on the Nebula Texture 1 layer, the effect comes out a lot darker than what it should be at that stage.

    Any ideas what’s happening?

  • :D

    How did the texture made a see through effect? What did you do?
    Ive been tryin to do this but i simply cant? Did you toudh the opacity of the texture layer?

  • here comes the sun lyrics

    I hope you keep posting these tutorials I learn a lot from them.

    Jenn at Here Comes the Sun lyrics

  • balu

    thanx learning psd slowly thru ur tutorials .

  • Stefan Versace

    My first steps look different… when I add my first nebula in, it is so much darker than what it says on here… 

  • jen

    would be nice if you could update the source links :/

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