Can you help me paint an interesting space scene?
Hank Jones, US
Nebulas could be used as a background in your sci-fi art. They can fill up empty gaps in your scene and help connect other elements. From an artist’s point of view, there are a few things to consider before starting. First, nebulas aren’t solid objects. Instead, like smoke, they float around creating graceful curves and lines that become brighter and more intense as you near the core. Second, you can use them as your primary source of light if the composition calls for it. Finally, nebulas are organic and irregular in shape, but they still have their own distinctive structure, such as a helix or even a double cone.
I start off with a dark value for the background that I’m going to light with some gradients and textures. This will establish the core of the nebula. Then I use the Smudge and Gradient tools to smooth my colours and spread them out towards the edges.
I try to stick to the double cone structure of my nebula. I repeat the process on a Screen layer to make the textures look more interesting. If you’re happy with your work so far, try copying, pasting, merging, and then transforming and erasing some parts to reveal the layers underneath. I use a Soft Light layer to bring back some dark tones and saturated colours.
Use the Smudge tool to pull the
pixels toward the edges, to achieve the classic nebula look.
If you use the general shapes of your nebula correctly, it could become the crowning jewel of your sci-fi illustration.