In Dan Brown’s epic spaceship thread he mentions using a large star field image of the Milky Way. It made me wonder about making custom star fields complete with nebulae and galactic plane. There are lots of tutorials about making the star fields. But today I was looking at some clouds and occurred to me how similar some of the wispy ones were to nebulae. So I got my camera and shot a few.
In Gimp I desaturated the image, then opened up the Levels window. Click on the eye dropper button for the Pick Black Level and click on the sky to turn it black. For the white level, I don’t bother with the eye dropper. It usually goes overboard, so I just use the slider to adjust it.
Create a new layer and set it to Multiply. Then paint some subtle colors onto the nebula. The color photos you see of actual nebulae are almost always false color images. The color is exaggerated to show various temperatures or elements.
You could piece together quite a few clouds to create a galactic plane. You could also use clouds set to Subtract to make the dark areas of dust and gas that obscure the Milky Way.