Ive been trying to do galaxies and nebulas and did this tonight. I can improve it further I think but Im feeling Im getting there. Are my eyes deceiving me? ( I dont always trust them after Ive been working on something for a while) Any thoughts on what I need to to do it? ( Apart from “bin it”!) Please. ( I was aiming towards something that felt realistic )


That first one was done quickly. I took some more time over this one. Im working on an interstellar spaceship to put in the scene but its nowhere near ready at the moment.


This is a rough version of the spaceship Im aiming for. Its supposed to be an interstellar ship taking humanity to a new home. The ship will be called Exodus 01.


I like the colors. The warmth of the nebula will give a nice ambience to your ship. There are some things that pop out at me though.

First is that you can see circles in the nebula from the hard brush you were using. Try turning down the opacity on your brush in (I assume) Gimp to let it build up more gradually, or use a soft brush. Or, even better yet, make a custom cloud brush =)

Second is that you went a little crazy with the shutter flares around the stars. Typically, you’d only see that for the brightest or closest stars in the scene. The stars’ colors also need slight variation and red-shift with distance.

It also looks like you have the distant stars’ occlusion backwards. Meaning that the nebula should hide all the distant stars behind it, not make them more visible. This is usually caused by painting the nebula on a black layer and setting the layer to Screen (or whatever the equivalent in Gimp is). This causes the bright spots of the nebula layer to show the layer below. Easy enough to fix; just use a mask on the distant star layer (move it above the nebula layer), and mask out the small stars that are behind dense parts of the nebula.

A little more work highlighting and you’ll have a nice background piece :slight_smile:

Thank you very much for your comments.

  1. The hard edge on the brush. Yes I knew I was being a bit slapdash with my early workup of this. I was a little more careful about this on the subsequent iteration but as I progress Im going to do a much more careful workup of the nebula.
  2. Shutter Flares - I agree with this as well. I also felt I had overdone it and was going to scale that back.
  3. Color variation - I had done some of this but your right it could do with more.
  4. The occlusion of stars by the nebula - interesting one. My vision had been a nebula which had a lot of stars shining within it. So the stars that you think are not occluded enough by the nebula are actually meant to be shining in the nebula. Almost like a stellar nursery ( but not as bright as the really bright ones). Im still not satisfied by the distribution of stars myself so Ill reflect on your observation as I continue to work this.

Again many thanks for your comment. Perhaps you would be good enough to comment further as I go along.

No problem, man! Thread bookmarked!

You should check out these videos from Tim Barton, especially “Solar Driftwood” and “From Nothing” if you want to see some crazy nebula painting =)

Ive had another go at the background.


Very Nice! The overall look is much improved IMO.