Reader Tutorial: Aurora Borealis Wallpaper in Photoshop
Our reader Máté Tóth brings us something cool. "There are some phenomenons of the nature that are really beautiful. The Aurora Borealis is surely one of them. It is so awesome Apple has been using it for its wall for some time now, and today, I'll show you how to create an awesome scene featuring an aurora, in photoshop."
First, let's take a look at what we're trying to achieve:
Cool, huh? Now let's do it, shall we?
First of all create a new document in Photoshop. The canvas size is your choise, i'll use 1024x768px. The size basicly depends on your screen resolution.
Now we'll need a landscape picture taken at night. You can find the picture I used HERE. Now create a new layer and name it "trees". Paste your picture and scratch it with the Free Transform Tool (ctrl+t) till it reaches the canvas' edge. With the Magic Wand Tool (w) click on the black trees. You'll get a selection. Press ctrl+shift+i, this way you select everything but the trees. Delete the sky. If you have tha patience, you can create the selection with the Pen Tool (p) too.You should have something like this:
The next step is finding the background. You can find the picture I used HERE. Off course you can use an other if you don't like it. Create a new layer calles "stars" behind the one called "trees". If the picture is too small, scratch it with Free Transform Tool (just like in Step 2). We have this so far:
In this step we'll add the lights to the sky. Create a new layer called "aurorabottom" between "trees" and "sky". Grab a thick brush and paint the area over the trees. Use the color #caee05. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply it on the layer with 20px. Set it's blending mode to hard light and set opacity to 50%.
Now we'll add more color and layers. The next layer will be "auroramiddle" behind "aurorabottom". Grab this color: #b3ea8d and paint the area over and behind the lights made in the previous step. Add some blur to the layer. Go to Filter>Blur and apply the Motion blur and Gaussian blur. You can see the settings on the picture below. Set blending mode to Lighten and oacity to 90%.
Ok, I think it is the hardest step. We'll create a new brush. Create a new document with transparent background. For the size I used 30x300px. Grab the Pen Tool (p) and put 2 anchor points to your picture (as senn on the picture). With the Path Selection Tool (a) right-click on the path and select Stroke Path. In the pop-up window select brush and check Simulate Pressure. Make sure your foreground color is black and u use a brush around 9px, then press Ok. Delete your path and go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. Give a name to your brush and press Ok. Now select your brush that you just created and set it up in the Brushes menu (you can find it on the right of your screen, or in Window>Brushes (f5). Use the settings you can see in the picture below.
It's time to use our new brush. Pick color #8cb37c and draw the shape you can see on the picture. Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Use an angle around 65. Set this layer's blending mode to Color Dodge.
Now that we have all the green layers, it's time to add some purple. Make a huge spot to the middle of the sky with #953f5e. You can use any kind of brushes. Make sure this layer is above the green ones. Name it "purple1" or something like that. Apply Gaussian blur on this layer with 100px radius. Change it's blending mode to Exclusion.
Pick this color: #92566b, use the same brush, but set the size around 350-400px, and draw something around the middle of the sky. Off course you hvave to do it on a new layer, "purple2". Give the layer a Motion Blur effect with 90° and 100px. Set the blending mode to Overlay. We're almost done.
Here comes the final touches. we have to do another brush with the same shape hat we made in Step 6. We do the same options except we check Scattering and Dual brush. Use the settings that i used (you can find it on the picture below). With white color paint some lines with the new brush around the purple area. Remember to create a new layer for it. I call mine ("whitestripes" ;))Got to Filter>Blur>Gaussian blur (I promise it's the last time), set 5px and press Ok. Set the layer's opacity to 50%.
Finally create a new layer, go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Make sure you have the default black and white colors set. Set the layer's blending mode to Soft light and lower the Opacity. I used 25%.