Creating Planets and Planetary Rings in GIMP

This tutorial is very easy and the end result is all about what you prefer, so have fun playing around with colour and texture!

Creating Planets and Planetary RIngsCreating Planets and Planetary RIngs

1. Download Texture + Import

  • Download this rust texture from CG Textures (you will have to make a free account, but worth it!)
  • Bring it into GIMP on a 1600px x 1200px document, go File –> Open As Layers… (Ctrl+Alt+O)
  • Apply Motion Blur, go Filters –> Blur –> Motion Blur: Linear, Length 256, Angle ~30, repeat 2-3 times for a smoother blend:
  • Then, crop your layer to around a third the size of your page – use the Crop Tool: Fixed Ratio, Current Layer Only:
Motion BlurMotion Blur

2. Lens Effect

  • To apply a little distortion for a more realistic curve, Filters –> Light and Shadow –> Apply Lens:
  • Firstly, *Right Click* on layer > Add Alpha Channel:
  • Settings: Make surroundings transparent, 1.80:
Lens EffectLens Effect

3. Add ‘Space’ with HSV Noise

  • Create a New Layer, ‘Space’, place at the bottom of your layers:
  • Using HSV Noise you can imitate space – Fill the ‘Space’ layer with Black:
  • Go, Filters –> Noise –> HSV Noise, with similar settings as shown:
Adding 'Space'Adding ‘Space’

4. Adding Shadow

  • Create a New Layer, ‘Shadow, place at top of layers:
  • To make this planet part of a solar system add shadow to the bottom corner of your planet!
  • Using the Gradient Tool: FG Only: Black, Radial:
  • Stroke from the edge of your planet to the centre:
Adding ShadowAdding Shadow

5. Adding an ‘Atmosphere’

  • Create a New Layer, ‘Atmosphere’, place below ‘Shadow’ layer:
  • On your Planet layer, *Right Click* > Alpha to Selection, and then select ‘Atmosphere’ layer.
  • Now, Select –> Border: ~20 pixels, Feather border:
  • And using the Bucket Tool fill Whole Selection at ~75% Opacity with a similar colour to your Planet: bd5b2d
Adding an 'Atmosphere'Adding an ‘Atmosphere’

6. Planetary Ring: Cloud Texture + Whirl and Pinch

  • Create a New Layer, ‘Rings’, place at top of layers:
  • Using the Paint Bucket Tool fill with Black:
  • Go, Filters –> Render –> Clouds –> Difference Clouds:
  • Settings for Difference Clouds: Seed: 5, Detail: 15, Tillable, 10 x 10:
  • Then, Filters –> Distorts –> Whirl and Pinch:
  • Settings: 700, 0.5, 2:
Planetray RIngs: Clouds TexturePlanetary Rings: Clouds Texture + Whirl and Pinch

7. Deleting Centre + Outer Sections

  • Using the Selection Tool with Fixed Ratio, 1:1:
  • Select a proportion of the centre and delete it (Edit –> Clear), as well as the outer edge:
Deleting Centre + Outer SectionsDeleting Centre + Outer Sections

8. Transform + Rotate

  • Using the Scale Tool (Shift+T) transform your ring horizontally, do it manually:
  • Rotate your ring to ~30°, using the Rotate Tool (Shift+R):
  • And move (M) to your preferred position!
Transform + RotateTransform + Rotate

9. Add Layer Mask + Colouring

  • On ‘Rings’ Layer, *Right Click* > Add Layer Mask, and using the Paintbrush Tool: FG Only: Black, Circle Fuzzy (19), Size: 10
  • And, paint out the side of the rings that shows over your planet:
  • Set your ‘Rings’ layer to Mode: Screen:
  • Add a bit of colour, Colors –> Colorize:
  • I have tried to match the colour of my Planet!
  • Try Hue and Saturation, if you need to do more colouring!

That’s It!

Thank you to a friendly reader for suggesting the idea!

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!


One Response to Creating Planets and Planetary Rings in GIMP

  1. Pingback: How to make a Globe/Planet photo manipulation in GIMP « GIMP Tutorials Blog

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