Add Aurora Borealis and Stars to an Image

In this tutorial I will show you really easy techniques to create aurora borealis (cool lighting effects) in a night sky or for a space project you may want to do. I will also show you an easy way to add stars to an image.

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I am going to start out with this image I downloaded from comstock complete.

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First I will add some stars to this image, using my pen tool:

Now with the pen tool make a selection around the trees, rocks, and water like this:

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In this image I show where I started and where I stopped with the pen tool. Now Connect both sides and right click in the middle of your shape, with the pen tool and click make selection:

When you do that your shape should turn into little dotted lines.

Make a new layer above all the rest and fill your shape with the color black.

You should have a very odd looking shape but that is ok we will blend it into the other image in the next few steps.

Now with your weird shape layer chosen we are going to add noise to it by going to filter>>noise>>add noise with these settings:

Then duplicate the layer 2 times and choose linear light as the blending mode on both.

You should have something like this now:

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Now by clicking on your top star layer and click merge down:

Keep doing that until you have one star layer. On the star layer pick color dodge as your blending mode and you have stars now.

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Now its time for the aurora borealis part of the tutorial. In this part I am going to use brush settings, the pen tool and blurs to get a neat lighting effect.

Grab your pen tool and in a new layer make a curved line like this:

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Now I am going to show you some brush settings, so just leave your curved line on there for now and pick your brush tool.

Go to your brush settings:

Choose these settings:

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics


Also choose a yellow as your brush color. I chose #F0FF63.

Now with all that chosen click back on your pen tool, right click on your curved line, and click stroke path. After that you can delete your line.

You should have something that looks like this:

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Now we are going to add a gaussian blur to the curved dots by going to filter>>blur>>gaussian blur with about 23 pixels.

Now you can name that curved line 1 or whatever you want to remember which one is which.

Now add a brighter yellow curved line (line 2) inside of that one in a new layer. After you get your 2nd curved dots use a gaussian blur of about 10 on it.

Add one more curved line (line 3) in between the others with another color of yellow, lighter or darker it doesn’t matter. I chose #F5FF97. Add a gaussian blur of about 12 on that one.

Here is my result so far:

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Now I am going to add one more shape above the other layers using my pen tool yet again and my gradient tool.

So draw an odd shape like this with your pen tool and make it a selection:

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Now choose your gradient tool:

Make sure transparency is checked or this method will not work correctly.

After that drag little sections in your shape around the edges and leave a gap in the middle somewhere so you can see the layers behind it:

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Now add a motion blur to this by going to filter>>blur>>motion blur with these

Now pull that layer below your other 3 layers in your layers palette and set its blending mode to overlay.

Now for the other layers we want to add blending modes to them as well.

Duplicate curved line 2 and move it over top of curved line 3 and set its blending mode to saturation.

Also set the actual curved line2 (not the duplicate copy) and set it on saturation 2. the order of my layers from bottom up are line1, lin3, lin2, and line2 copy above all the others.

Here is my result from that:

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Now I am going to add a reflection in the water from the aurora for added realism. To do this I am going to merge my line2 and its duplicate and merge line3 and line1.

Next I am going to duplicate the 2 layers have now and flip them vertically and position them in the water.

Remove any excess of each layer that is on the rocks or the trees.

For the final touch to make this look more real, remove any of the other line layers that are over top of the tree in the image so that the aurora looks like it is behind the tree. To do this you can either use your eraser brushes or use your pen tool to make accurate selections over the areas you want to delete. I used a combination of both.

Final Result:

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To compare here is screenshot1 again

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