Making Spacescapes

For no particular reason, I wanted to make a spacescape.

I have graphics editing software (specifically, the GIMP), and I was sure there was a tutorial online somewhere. Google was my friend, and within two minutes I had an article that fit my needs — How to Create Space Scenes Quickly and Easily in Gimp.

I followed the instructions, which were not quickI found a red rock texture to use for the planet, I created a nebula, and in about forty minutes I had my first spacescape.


I didn’t like it a whole lot.

It was a cloudy day in Pennsylvania, so I went outside and shot pictures of the clouds. Those, I thought, would make good fodder for planets. Why have a rocky planet when I could have a watery or cloudy planet?

Then I decided to flip the red planet from the first spacescape and make it into a moon.


I still wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t feel like the Gaussian blur on the planetary shadow was really working.

I won’t share the third. I won’t.

For the fourth, I went back to the red rock texture, flipped it around, cropped it, and made something that looked pretty good. And, by this time, I was doing them in about five minutes.


Still, the shadow on the planet didn’t feel properly blurred.

The fifth didn’t work out. I mean, it’s really good… but I didn’t realize I couldn’t move the image layer with the planet’s sun because now there are lines in the image that mark where the edges of that image layer were.

The sixth was an attempt to recreate the fifth.


It turned out pretty well! The planet was made from the clouds above Yoe this morning.

The seventh, I tried some different things. And I’m really happy with it.


When I made the planet, I made the shadow in a different way, and I lensed the image twice, once on the original texture to make a sphere, once after placing the shadow to blend it onto the sphere.

The texture, strange as this may sound, comes from a picture I took of Harrisburg’s Metro Bank Park when I was in Harrisburg for federal jury duty at the beginning of April.

Here’s a closer look at the planet.


That banded ice-like structure? That’s actually the Susquehanna River. The dark splotches along the edge are the reflections of trees on the City Island shoreline. Just beyond them, in my original photo, were the trees and the baseball stadium.

That’s how the magician’s trick was made. 🙂

Now I want to check out this article on creating planets and try something different.

And now I have spacescapes I can use as desktop wallpapers, if I want to.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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