How to Create a Starry Night Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a starry night scene in Photoshop. You’ll learn how to create a beautiful and colorful starry night background using milky way and a sky image. I’ll also show you how to works with colors, lights, and shadows. Follow along with tutorial and improve your photo manipulations skills.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Start by creating a new document in Photoshop. You can create a document in Photoshop by selecting File > New and give the following values:


Step 2

Open up the lake image in Photoshop and move it to our main document using Move Tool (V).


Step 3

We need to remove the sky in order to add another one. You can do this easily by using Calculation & Channels techniques and I already devoted a detailed on my website and you can follow it here. Check out the tutorial and then come back and remove the sky. Here you can see not only the sky, sky reflection in the lake also has been removed. It’s very easy to do and you can do it properly but have some patient while making the selection.


Create the Starry Sky

Step 4

Open up the milky way pack and open the OPR_9684 file in Photoshop. Then drag it to main document and use the Transform Tool (CTRL + T) to scale it like shown below. Don’t forget to drag the milky way layer below the lake.


Step 5

The milky way image has some noise and it usually has when we capture these starry night sky shots. If you want the noise then you can skip this step but I don’t like it so I applied the blur to milky way image. Convert the milky way image to Smart Objects and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.


Results after applying blur:


Don’t worry about the stars we’ll add them later.

Step 5

Open the sky image in Photoshop and add it to main document.
Don’t forget to enlarge it using Transform Tool (CTRL + T) as shown below.


Set its blend mode to Soft Light.


Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer and increase the brightness of the sky image. You can add an adjustment layer by selecting Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and don’t forget to use this layer as Clipping Mask (press the red icon).




Step 7

Select all the sky layers and duplicate them on a new document. You can do this by selecting all sky layers and then right click on it and choose duplicate layers. On the dialog box, choose New in Destination option to duplicate the sky layer on a new document. Once you are in new document press ALT + SHIFT + CTRL + E to merge all layer into a single layer. Then move this layer back to main document. Now activate the Transform Tool and while the Transform Tool is active, right click on the document and choose Flip Vertical to create the sky reflection.


Step 8

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of all layers and add some yellow color tones to scene.


Reduce the opacity of Color Balance to 73%.


Add the Stars

Step 9

You can either create the stars or use the starry background textures pack to add them over the sky. Open up the starry background textures pack and choose starry-1 image.


Set the blending mode to Screen.


Step 10

I reduced the saturation using Hue/Saturation.




Step 11

I used the Levels adjustment layer to control the visibility of the stars. The more you drag the black slider to right the less visible the stars.






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