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Planetary Rings

Solid rings around logos and web-based graphics are a staple diet for the graphic designer - simple to create, and with proven results.  But what about asteroid rings around planets?   Unlike their solid counterparts, planetary rings need to have a granular, almost ethereal look, and this is often hard to recreate effectively even in 3D programs.  The aim of this tutorial is to detail an amazingly simple way of making these asteroid-filled rings in Photoshop.  The quality and speed of the results will simply amaze you... 

Step 1:  Create a blank document of any size (800px by 600px is a good start) and fill the background with a solid black colour. Create a new transparent layer on top, make it active, and select filter > render > clouds from the main menu. Make sure you have black and white selected as your background and foreground colours respectively. If you do it right you will get a cloudy texture like the one on the left.

Step 2:  Apply filter > distort > twirl with an angle of 999. Repeat this around three times, or until you have an image that resembles the one opposite.

Step 3: Select the Eraser Tool and choose a soft round brush of an appropriate size (this depends, of course, on the size of your image). Now start erasing the outer edges and parts of the centre until you are left with a ring that looks like the one on the left.

Step 4: Now to make them look like real rings. Go to edit > transform > scale and drag the top middle grip down until the shape is as flat as you desire, then press ENTER on your keyboard to finalize changes.

Step 5: Pluck out individual asteroids by running filter > noise > add noise, with the amount set to 15%, distribution set to gaussian, and the monochromatic checkbox enabled.

Step 6: Bring up the levels dialog by choosing Image > Adjustments > Levels from the main menu. Move the center triangle (below the distribution graph) until your ring looks a little bit like the example below. Click OK.

Step 7: Almost done!  Alter the colour of your ring with Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Enable colorize and change the settings until you have the colour of your choice.

Step 8: For the final step, set the layer blending mode to screen so that the black parts become invisible. Your rings are now finished and you can combine them with a planet! Have fun, practice lots, and soon you'll be able to make a scene just like this one:

For the full un-cropped image, click here.

- Tutorial written by DKF

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Last 5 User Comments

User:  Zenith84 (#49522)
Date: Wed Apr 23, 2008. 08:25:58

Post #8 of 8

Thx for great help, i've always wanted to create such images, but i have a small request. Using those tutorials I menaged to learn how to draw a planet and rings, but can't find anything about drawing such "background" (hills, sky just above hills and light/shadow effect) If someone know good tutorial about that part, I would be very grateful.

Once again, thx for the grate job

Reply to this post

User:  Kathryn69 (#46807)
Date: Mon Dec 17, 2007. 01:15:51

Post #7 of 8

Wow! this is easier than I thought. Thanks a lot.

Reply to this post

User:  rhos (#40048)
Date: Fri Mar 30, 2007. 21:21:19

Post #6 of 8

That's great! Have to try that one. Thanks!

Reply to this post

User:  vixen (#32990)
Date: Sat Oct 21, 2006. 05:01:46

Post #5 of 8

cool stuff man !!! i'll try...

Reply to this post

User:  Benny Pedersen (#32584)
Date: Thu Oct 05, 2006. 06:31:10

Post #4 of 8

Hi. I created a free action to make the ring but it dosn't look as the one
at your pucture ???:egg:
New Free Action - Strange History... - Elements User Forums


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