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Christmas Night - making of

Before you start reading this tutorial, I recommend making a big cup of coffee - it will be quite long :-) So, to start, create new document (I made it 3200x2000 pixels) and fill background with solid black color.

To fill our sky with stars, we'll need some help of ContextFree. You can get it  at I downloaded one of fractals and manipulated it  so that it fits my needs. You can download my fractal file here: Using this file, create several similar fractals (in ContextFree, hit Ctrl-R to refresh and get new variation) and saved them as PNG images (right-click and save as image).

Open all PNG fractals in Photoshop, copy and paste them into one document, so that each fractal is  a layer. For each layer, set Blend mode to screen". It will make stars blend together."

Repeat as many times as you like, until you get enough stars. (I used about 20 fractals). If your stars are wrong color, you can colorize them - hit Ctrl-U and adjust hue and lightness as necessary.

I wanted that the stars do not only fill entire image, but also create subtle paths"

ContextFree generates black fractals on white background. I need only black fractal, with transparent background. Here's how: open PNG image in Photoshop, select all (Ctrl-A), copy (Ctrl-C), close (Ctrl-W), create new file (Ctrl-N), paste (Ctrl-V), switch to mask mode (Q), paste (Ctrl-V), sqitch back (Q), delete (Del).

Instead of black fractal, you need white. The fastest way is Ctrl-U, then set lightness = 100%.

Copy resulted fractal image and paste it into top-right corner of our artwork.

Then, simply set its layer opacity mode to overlay". Result: in this corner stars are now grouped into nice "roads". If you need to make result more visible

For top-left corner, repeat teh same steps: generate similar fractal with contextfree, remove white background, paste into wallpaper...

...and set its blend mode to overlay" (and probably duplicate the layer)."

For more fun and excitement, we'll need a bit of bigger stars. To create them, switch to Shape tool, choose Polygon, set number of sides to 4, and in Polygon options, check Star, and set indent to about 80%.

Then, when you draw a shape you will get a star you need (hold Shift while dragging mouse to align diagonally). You can also open Blending options (effects) and add a bit of Outer Glow.

Repeat several times to add stars here and there.

The next part of our artwork is..s constellations. Use google image search to get the idea of what constellations are there and their layout. Then, use Shape tool (first Line tool, then Ellipse tool) to create a constellation. For each shape in constellation, open blending options and add 2-px black stroke.

Here's how our constellation looks when pasted into wallpaper. Repeat these steps for each constellation you want to add.

Now the most exciting part - the earth. Create new layer (or better, create new layer set, and inside it, new layer; it will keep your file well organized),set color to blueish purple, use Shape tool (ellipse) to create VERY big circle (hold Shift to make sure you make circle, not ellipse). Then make sure only very top of circle is visible. Duplicate this layer - you will need a copy of  it a bit later. (hide duplicated layer for now). Rasterize original layer.

Open this layer's blending options (layer style) and add small outer glow and big inner glow. Add a bit of noise (Filter - Noise - Add noise).

future steps will show that the planet needs to  be darker :-). So using Hue/Saturation (Ctrl-U), make planet darker and more saturated (you can always adjust it later as well).

To add some nice light reflection, take a copy of planet shape (circle), switch to Path selection tool (A), select circle shape, copy-paste (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V), move copied circle a bit down and change its mode to substract". Then

Now, we need much more outer glow from our planet! To add it, select layer with planet and duplicate it again. Clear layer style, so that it has not outer and inner glows.

To go filter - blur - gaussian blur and use very lagre number (such as 50-80). For stronger blur, duplicate layer (Ctrl-J) and merge it back (Ctrl-E).

We only need glow outside the planet. To remove unnecessary glow, select layer with planet, set selection to layer transparency (you can hold Ctrl and click layer, or  go to Select - Load selection - OK), then select layer with glow and hit Del to delete selected image.

The final touch is  to set its lend mode to Color dodge.

To add a bit more 3D to our planet, create new layer, choose Brush tool, set brush size to very large (f.e. 700-800 pixels), set color o black, and add some black strokes on very bottom of image.

Now the tricky part! The continents shining in the night. The inspiration came from famous photo from NASA - see But simply copy and paste would be too.. well, simple! Let us  be inspired by the photo but not rip it. So, in new document, select Freeform Pen tool, and with rough mouse movements draw a shape that resembles our continents. Remember to distort them, as they are located in  a sphere.

Take all fractals that you used in the very first steps (to create stars in background) and paste them here again. As previously, set blend more to screen" so that all fractals are seen through each other. Then

Now, delete all parts of fractals layer that are outside continents shape" layer. There are 2 ways to  do that. A) simply group these 2 layers (Ctrl-G) and then merge (Ctrl-E)

Now all you need to  to is insert the result into our artwork, and set its blend mode to color dodge"! Woo-hoo!"

Now let's make the lines going from the earth with congratulation messages. Creating smooth line is  a bit tricky but result is quite good. As always, create a new layer. Open Paths palette. On bottom of it, click New button to create new path (empty so far). Make sure this path is selected.

Switch to Pen tool (not freeform pen!). Draw a line with curved point in the middle (if unsure, here's how to  do it: first point: click; second point: click, drag a bit, release; third point: click).

Switch to brush tool, set brush size to 1-2 pixels, set color to white, and on bottom of path palette, click Stroke button. The white line should appear (if it  is not strong enough, click Stroke button again).

Using same steps, draw as many lines as you like (remember to delete a path as soon as you clicked stroke" button). Then

We're almost done! Using font of your choice, write your messages. Move and rotate so that the messages align with the lines.

Voila! :-)

The last secret is how to create a fish that sends its congratulations too. Using Shape tool (U), draw a circle. Switch to path selection tool (A).

select path, copy-paste (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V), resize (Ctrl-T, then hold Shift to preserve proportions), then change shape mode to Substract.

copy and paste the circle again, move a bit to top, change shape mode to intersect.

click combine" button to merge shapes into one shape

then add another circle, set its mode to Intersect, and combine all paths into one. Almost done!

(you can give your fish an eye if you want :-)

That's all! Thanks for reading!

← Mont Saint Michel (Dark) Making Of Green Field - making of →

Comments 66

Gabriel · long ago
Nice work there. Your kind exceptionally to post tutorials, true designer!

iñigo · long ago
Amazing, thank you very much!

graviron · long ago
I can't say anything... Words are just not enough.. haha... supreme art...^^

ram ashok · long ago
Very Very FANTASTIC!!!

simon · long ago
kapo dol.

Tayeb · long ago
thanks a lot fot this beautiful & helpful tutorials

Chandan · long ago
it's amazing! Thanks i like it

dvhhzsypye · long ago
Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! kgsgmtxwpj

akinomoto · long ago
arigatou arimastha, thx for tutorial smile

yohana · long ago
owesome, nice try. it's so

snehal · long ago
thnks again u r d best teacher i could ever came across. i luv it

Sassan · long ago

Chantal Québec City · long ago
I always had admired you as a genious in your own field. Here's another reason to still admire you: your immense generosity. Thank you for existing.

radhakrishnan · long ago
Thanks for sharing such a beautiful tutorial

Viv · long ago
context free can render images on transparent backgrounds too! nice work btw ;-)

Denisa · long ago
Very Very beautiful Congratulation !!!

hans · long ago

zOee · long ago
I'm a photoshop learners. I'm so glad that you make such a great tutorials for us! Although I can only understand 70% of the whole tutorials but i'll TRY! Step by step... I've been searching for tutorials like this sooo loooong! Thanks there! (Y) Thanks for sharing!

Kevin Lahtinen · 18 September 2008
I'm jealous:)

Joko Suwono · 22 October 2008
Energix and Funtastic Design! i admire you!

Eric Shafer · 24 December 2008
Tracked back to from here:

Mafia fahad · 30 December 2008
Wat a beauty man keep it up

bull · 27 February 2009
in Turkey and i say: awesome! thanks

lixie · 19 June 2009
wow!!that's all i have to say...woooweerr

HALAF · 27 August 2009

ray · 27 November 2009
masterpice . thanks

Cariboou · 6 December 2009
and here Canada we said wonderful!

· 2 June 2010

isa · 28 August 2010
je n´ai rien comprie

Vinayak S. More · 7 October 2010

roland · 10 November 2010
youre amazing

· 8 February 2011
this is amazing. thank you for putting together. very talented!!

· 2 April 2011

unknown · 24 June 2011

Avril · 17 October 2011

Avril · 17 October 2011

· 15 December 2011
Great tutorial, though it doesn't seem to work form the beginning for me :(

6767 · 22 December 2011

Joe · 27 March
I love baby

· long ago
Ïóñòü ÿ áóäó ïåðâûì!) ß áåçóìíî ðàä, ÷òî íàøåë ñåãîäíÿ â ñåòè âàø ñàéò!!! Êðàñèâûå îáîè, âåëèêîëåïíûå óðîêè - äëÿ òåõ êòî ëþáèò "ðèñîâàòü" â Photoshop ýòî íåîöåíèìàÿ ïîìîùü, ïîñêîëüêó â áîëüøèíñòâå ñâîåì íè÷åãî äåëüíîãî â êíèãàõ è òàê íàçûâàåìûõ "ñàìîó÷èòåëÿõ"(ñàìîìó÷èòåëÿõ!!!) íåò. Åäèíñòâåííàÿ ïðîñüáà, ïîáîëøüøå "îáùèõ" óðîêîâ, ðàñêðûâàþùèõ êàêèå-ëèáî ìåòîäû ñîçäàíèÿ ÷åãî-íèáóòü...ììì...íåçíàþ...íó, êàê íàïðèìåð òåêñòóðà ìåòàëëà è zoomedpixels)) Áîëüøîå, Âàì, Âëàä ñïàñèáî!!! Òåïåðü î äàííîì óðîêå,) ïðî÷èòàâ åãî ÿ ïîíÿë ÷òî äåëî ýòî äëèííîå íî âûïîëíèìîå.  ôîòîøîïå ÿ ñàìîó÷êà, òàê ÷òî ïîïðîáóþ ñäåëàòü, ìîæåò è ïîëó÷èòñÿ))) Ñïàñèáî çà óðîê. Äà, íàïèøèòå, ïîæàëóéñòà ïîïîäðîáíåå êàê ãåíåðèðîâàòü â ContextFree ïîäîáíûå ðèñóíêè. Îòêðûâ åãî ÿ òîëüêî óâèäåë ñòàíäàðòíîå Hello!(((

carlo · long ago
do you have any PDF turtorials, that might be more specific... hehehehe... :-o

eMoe · long ago
you are amazing! Thanks for sharing. God bless you.

OD · long ago

Sindri Svan · long ago
Honestly, man... you probably make THE most useful photoshop tutorials out there! If there's someone that makes tutorials on your caliber out there, I'd love to know... Keep up the good work daddy'o! ;)

Sam001 · long ago
In Hungary, we say this: beszarás!!!!!!

BHupendra Zala · long ago

Sophie · long ago
I (L) IT!!

alen · long ago
aaaaawwweeessoommmee ddduuudddeeee!!!!

Patrick Lee · 13 June 2008
Hey Vlad, Wonderful work and tutorials! Just one comment. I copied and pasted your fractal script into ContextFree and got a parsing error. I renamed the function "3ring" to "threering" and the function call in the function "skew3ring". Other than that it worked PERFECTLY for me!

aleksa · 4 December 2008

Matt · 18 December 2008
Really like the piece, but can't help but find it funny how the English phrase is coming from the US, and not England. Just a pet peeve of mine. :P

toma01 · 20 February 2009
the random starmaker doesn't work.. :(

Paulina · 14 April 2009
Inspirujące. Dziękuję!

good · 21 June 2009

Pavol · 9 October 2009

kicky · 6 November 2009
i really like ur style.. i wanna learn from you..hehe kicky-indonesia

Mohammad Reza Ranjkar · 15 December 2009
Great Work . Thank You

Jonn · 8 June 2010
For those of you that get an error with the xmasnight.cfdg file when loading it with Contect Free. Change the name of the rule "3ring" to anything that does not start with an integer. Best would be to do open in notepad and do a search and replace to make sure you rename it all.

· 25 December 2010

dorin · 4 March 2011
thank you Vlad. I did everything right, but the fish. I'm a beginner and I couldn't find the intersect mode.

yudi tempur · 10 June 2011
bagus amat, ku mau kayak gitu.....

Avril · 17 October 2011

Avril · 17 October 2011

Denise · 28 November 2011

someone · 16 December 2011
thanks ,it was a very usefull to enjoy Photoshop.

Hannah · 20 August 2012
Gotta love the fish :) Your tutorials are absolutely amazing and even though when I try they don't turn out nearly as good I like putting your design on one screen and mine on the other so I can remind myself what happens with practise and awesomeness! Thanks so much!

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