Can you help me paint an in­ter­est­ing space scene?

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation -

Hank Jones, US

Na­cho replies

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.

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