Photoshop Tutorial: Create a Spiral Galaxy in 5 Easy Steps

This tutorial will teach you how to create a Spiral Galaxy in Photoshop using nothing but filters and simple transformation tools. The tutorial is aimed at beginners and you’ll learn techniques involving different transformation modes, the clouds filter, selection option and using blending modes. Should you run into any trouble feel free to leave a comment to enquire about it. So lets get started.

1. Document Setup

Open a new document, 1920px by 1200px and fill the background with a dark grey #131313.

2. Render Clouds

Create a new layer. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and set Feather to 50px. Draw a circular selection as shown below making sure there’s some space from the top and bottom. Hold down Shift to make a perfect circle.

Press “D” to set Foreground and Background colours to Black & White. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Set the new layer’s Blending Mode to Soft Light.

3. Create Spiral

Hit Cmd + T (Ctrl + T) to enter the Free Transform Mode. Switch to Warp Modes and choose Twist. Set the Bend to -100%.

Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J). With the new layer selected repeat the twist transformation (using the same settings) 2 times. Your image should look similar to the one below.

Select the bottom layer (Galaxy Spiral BG) and reduce the scale it down from the centre to about 87%.

4. Add Colours

Create a new layer on top and set its Blending Mode to Soft Light. Use a large, circular brush with hardness set to 0 to add some colour to the galaxy. Use the Ereaser to delete any colours outside the galaxy.

5. Give it some Perspective

Select both Spiral layers (hold down Cmd while selecting) and enter the Free Transform mode (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Hold Cmd/Ctrl and select the anchor points to distort the galaxy. Use the image as guideline.

6. Extra Bit: Add Pattern Texture

To finish off we’re gonna add pattern texture to the design. Create a new layer on top. Use a simple Black & White checkered pattern. (Mine can be downloaded here. Open the jpg in Photoshop and go to Edit>Define Patter). Fill the new layer with the pattern and set it to Multiply at 70% opacity. That’s it.

7. Final image

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! I encourage you to play around with different colours and patterens as well as applying these techniques to different designs.

Written by Franz Jeitz

Franz Jeitz is a freelance designer and owner of Fudgegraphics. Originally from Luxembourg he now lives in London. Franz loves design, music and is a tea enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter.

Join the Discussion:

42 Awesome Responses so far
  1. Was already waiting for this tutorial since you tweeted the result. Looks very good mate – might want to give it a “spin” (haha – word joke) later too!

    Keep up the great work :) .

  2. @Marco: It took me a bit longer to complete than expected :) Glad you like it mate!

  3. Cool. Really cool tutorial.
    The result is great and you are right just 5 easy steps.
    Thanks!

  4. wow, very easy tutorial and to get the result. good work

  5. Well… That was easy, thanks for sharing!

  6. Cool tutorial, Franz. But, you missed the stars :) – A bit of noise and adjusting the levels will add stars and make it look more realistic.

    Doing this in 5 steps is awesome :D Loved it!!

  7. Glad you all like the tutorial.
    @Richie: I didn’t add any stars on purpose. Wanted to keep it as simple as possible and leave enough room for people to experiment and add their own touch to it.

  8. Wow quick and easy. Could be really useful for a bunch of different projects. Thanks!

  9. Another useful guide broken down into easy steps. I plan on sharing this with some folks I know will be able to benefit.

  10. what font did you use? great tutorial btw!

  11. Thanks for the comments. They’re much appreciated. Happy you enjoyed the tutorial.
    @James: The font is called “Avenir” which is a commercial font. One alternative would be “Nevis” which is free to download here: http://www.tenbytwenty.com/products/typefaces/nevis

  12. @Franz: Firstly, my appreciation for sharing your creativity :)

    The design is simply dazzling! Love it…
    I’m naturally taken by the cosmos, and you’ve embraced it quite well by showing us how to create this fabulous spiral galaxy…

    Blessed Light,
    Aline [@ArtWave]

  13. Thanks for the interesting and easy to follow tutorial. I appreciate the added resource.

  14. It’s so good.. Merci

  15. please sumbody help me for using the blending mode of layer

  16. While the structure of the galaxy looks good, the colour could be greatly improved. Galaxies are never the same colour across all parts, usually spiral arms are light blue and the core is yellow.

  17. Very impressed thanks for sharing this tutorial:)

  18. Nice outcome. I feel like in Star Treck when I look at the end result. You could have put some stars as well to add a more cosmic feel

  19. Hi Franz,

    When I select softlight for blending mode, my picture looks nothing like yours, I am not sure what im missing?

  20. Really like this one ,Great tutorial mate thank you so much for sharing .

  21. Nice tutorial, but dont you think the galaxy needs a galactic bulge??
    you can make one, like this:
    after distorting your galaxy with the free transform, create a new layer, and select the elliptical marquee tool and create a nice little circle at the center of the galaxy and set the blending mode to “hard light” and then fill the circle with the color you want, and then go to LAYER>LAYER STYLE>BLENDING OPTIONS, and then go to “outer glow” and then set the Opacity to 100 and the size to 49 or above(49 or above only if your project is 1000 pixels or above) and then set the colour to whatever you like and then go to “inner glow” and then set the exact same settings, and then with the eraser tool, erase the under part of the circle, and then select the brush tool and select any size and color you want, put the hardness on 0% and then start putting dots all around the cicle and then select the blur tool and start bluring all the dots you made!
    and there it is, you galactic bulge!!!!!!!!!

  22. Wow Jeitz, this is the tutorial I am looking for. I don’t want to use the image from NASA because I want to use a unique image in my blog. Thanks a lot.

  23. I think to make your clouds look like those in the tutorial, you need to use the specified blending mode but also color your background layer dark grey. I used #0f0f0f.

  24. I have been trying to do this for a long time, I really thank you all this.

  25. Wow wonderful blog post! Impressive tutorial dude. It?s insane how many spectacular tutes you guys publish. Love your work. Say thanks!

  26. New at CS5 and had to play with the setting and layers to get right but it came out so nice. Your Tutorial was very good.

  27. I’m having the same problem as Dan and when I bend my picture, it doesn’t look right. The entire circle turns with it and become deformed into a sort of dimond shape but with round edges. Can you or anyone give me hints?

  28. thanks for the very vivid tutorial. I loved it and tried immediately to create something for my little blog. :-)

  29. Marc Karsai March 3rd, 2011

    Never mind. I fixed it. Thanks for the tutorial! It was simple and fun! And SCI-FI RULES!!!

  30. Thanks. Very useful tutorial!

  31. I have an earlier version of photoshop and unfortunately I was unable to complete the transform twist warp step, as the warp option is unavailable. Any alternative ideas? The spiral liquefy tool doesn’t produce the right characteristics.

  32. Reto Kummer February 4th, 2012

    Awesome Tutorial – a big “thank you” from Switzerland to ya – keep up the good work mate.

  33. Good work. Thanks!

  34. Hey can I use the liquify tool instead for the warp step cant find my warp tool?

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