How to create your own Planet

In this cool tutorial :-) I will show you how easy it is to create planet from the map of your favorite city. To start, we need space with stars. For that, I used my favorite ContextFree program. I wrote about it detaily in one of my earlier tutorials, so I will keep it short. Download this file – Linkstars.cfdg – renders it several times at large size, and save as PNG images. One example is this image – lots of black dots on white background.
Planets - making of - Step 1

Load image created by ContextFree in Photoshop, invert it (Ctrl-I).
Planets - making of - Step 2

Then create new layer, fill it with blue color, and set this layer blend mode to Multiply. it will make stars blue, not white.
Planets - making of - Step 3

I also wanted map of USA to shine on space as constellations. For that, I found outline map of USA states, and made all lines white.
Planets - making of - Step 4

Copy and paste white lines into our artwork in new layer…
Planets - making of - Step 5

…then set this layer blend mode to Overlay. It is very hard to see now, so…
Planets - making of - Step 6

…duplicate this layer 3-4 times until the lines start to shine.
Planets - making of - Step 7

Now it is time to make shape for the planet. Using Shape tool, create blue circle.
Planets - making of - Step 8

Apply the following layer effects:
- Outer glow: black, overlay, 20-30px
- Inner glow: white, overlay, 1-2px
- Gradient: white-to-black, overlay, 20-30%
Planets - making of - Step 9

Then, in new layer, make the following shapes from 2 ovals (second in Intersect mode).
Planets - making of - Step 10

Set its blend mode to Soft Light and opacity to 20-30%
Planets - making of - Step 11

Final touch is another small white ellipse with blend mode = soft light and opacity = 20-30%
Planets - making of - Step 12

Now we need a satellite map in really large size. I decided to use Google maps, but if I simply make screenshot, I will not get large enough image (we really need 3000-4000 pixels size).
Planets - making of - Step 13

…so I made about 20 screenshots, scrolling map up and down…
Planets - making of - Step 14

and then pasted them all into one large Photoshop file and carefully aligned them, then merged all layers into one layer.
Planets - making of - Step 15

Here goes the main trick:
- make image square (Image – Canvas size – set width equal height)
- Desaturate (Ctrl-Shift-U)
- Go to Filters – Distort – Spherize. Set amount to 80%, apply. Then, repeat this filter again. You will get map similar to this.
Planets - making of - Step 16

Then, copy this map and paste it to your file with planet. Resize layer and align it to planet. Then set layer blend mode to Overlay, and finally, go to Layer menu – Create Clipping Mask (so that map is only visible within planet shape).
Planets - making of - Step 17

That’s all! One last touch is shadow (everything looks better with a bit of shadow). In new layer, use large black brush and draw shadow like this.
Planets - making of - Step 18

Then, go to Layer menu again – Create Clipping mask, and also set this layer blend mode to Soft Light.

Planets - making of - Step 19


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Author: Vlad Gerasimov