Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher
Here is a quick list of the steps needed to work Starfield:
1. In the Rendering menu, pick Video Post.
2. Click the Add Scene Event icon (the teapot with the arrow pointing to it).
3. Pick the camera you are using from the pulldown menu (in the Add Scene Event menu). You must have a camera set up for the Starfield filter to work.
4. Click Ok to exit that menu.
5. Click the Add Image Filter Event icon (the rectangle with the curved line through it).
6. Pick Starfield.
7. Click Setup.
8. Tweak whatever settings you want, then press Ok.
9. View your Starfield by clicking the Execute Sequence icon (the little running dude).
10. Render it.
I found that this star generator is pretty handy, but itís not really realistic enough, so I use it as a starting point to make my starfield, then go into Photoshop and continue doing the rest by hand.
A Spiral Galaxy
What space scene wouldnít be complete without a galaxy? So, I thought Iíd show one that I created by hand. Itís an older image of mine, and these days I probably wouldnít completely hand draw it. Most likely Iíd find a picture of a real one and partially hand draw, and partially rubber stamp some of the real one for greater realism.
Unfortunately since this image is a couple of years old I canít remember exactly all the steps I took to create it, but I do remember the majority of it.
1. I made a big, thick splotch of stars.
2. I put a lens flare smack in the center.
3. I used the twirl filter (I think).
4. I used the distort transform (from the edit menu -- not a filter) to get it to look like it was on a slant.
5. I went in by hand and started erasing out parts, making parts brighter/darker (burning/dodging), etc.
Putting The Scene All Together
Now that you have the various elements of your scene made, itís time to slap them together into some sort of cool composition.
Take a look at the following image. This isnít a game screenshot, just a scene I put together in MAX awhile back.
Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.
You can see in the background how the Earth-like planet (which you should remember from part 2 of the tutorial) fits in nicely outside of the windows.
I went about making this graphic a bit differently than you might expect. I didnít render the space background at the same time as the interior of the ship. I left the background as negative space to serve as an Alpha channel. To exemplify this, take a look at the next image.
The red part is the Alpha channel. If you are wondering why I did that, itís because now that I have an alpha channel created, I can throw any image into that channel that I want, and I will have myself a new background. Take a look at the next image. You should see some familiar things.
Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.
Well, this concludes the three-part space scene tutorial. I could have really exploded this baby into about ten parts with lots of other aspects that Iíd hoped to cover (like nebulas). Really, the best thing to do is to take a look at real space images from somewhere like NASAís site. That way youíll notice things that you really didnít before and hopefully be able to apply them to your scene. Of course, you might want your scene to look more other-worldly such as some of the images seen in the last segment of 2001: A Space Odyssey. If thatís the case, just think creatively about what you want your scene to look like and then think even more creatively as to how to accomplish what you are looking for (sort of like the steps I took to create the spiral galaxy). Sometimes a certain combination of tools or filters is the key... just finding the right balance between them for them to work effectively is the real challenge. I know that sounds easier said than done, but really it is the way you will learn what works and what doesnít. When Iím working on something and spend an hour trying something new just to find that it sucks, I try to at least justify it to myself by saying: "hey, at least I learned what not to do next time." That might sound stupid, but itís the way I learned the in and outs of Photoshop. Experiment, experiment, experiment.
- Rick Grossenbacher is a professional 2D artist and graphic designer. Amongst other things, he has worked at Ion Storm and done freelance work for RCA and Sony records.
Credits: Painting on Polygons is © 1999 Rick Grossenbacher. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, or we'll paint you white against a white background.