Create an Earth like planet in Afinity Photo

An effective Earth like planet can be created in Afinity photo. It is a fairly involved process and it is easy to miss a setting. Therefore there is a table of contents in this tutorial, so that you can jump to the relevant step.

Step 1 Create a sphere

Step 1.1 – Add a rust background

Find a hi-res rust image online and open it in Afinity photo.

Step 1.2 – select a circle and make it spherical

  • Use the elliptical marque tool and hold down shift to draw a circle.
  • Select Distort>Spherical from the filters menu.

Set the intensity to 100% and the radius to 2000 px. You will need to enter the number in the box. Click on Apply.

Finally go back to the filters menu and click on repeat sphere. You should have an effect similar to the image below.

Click on Edit>Copy and paste to a new document. This should just copy the selection.

Step 2 – create an atmosphere

Step 2.1 – Add a black and white adjustment layer

Click on the adjustments tab and add a black and white adjustments layer. use the sliders to create more contrast.

In the layers panel drag the adjustment layer onto the image. this ensures that the adjustment layer is tied to the image.

Step 2.1 Add a black background layer

Draw a rectangle and fill it with black. drag it to the bottom of the layer stack.

Step 2.3 add outer glow, inner glow and inner shadow effects

Make sure that the image layer is highlighted and click on Select>select from layer

Duplicate the image layer and fill it with black using the brush tool.

Rename the layer Atmos and set the blending mode to soft light.

Ensure that the atmos layer is selected and click on the effects tab, add an outer glow with the settings shown below. Use a blue colour. This forms the outer atmosphere.

Click on the layers tab and then the fx button in the Atmos layer.

This will bring up the effects settings panel. Ensure that the blend mode is set to screen for all of the effects in this step.

Next, Use the settings below to create an inner shadow. You will need to type 400px into the offset box as the slider will not go this high.

The planet should now look like the image below.

Finally create an inner glow with the settings below

Step 2.4 – Create a shadow

  • Copy the Atmos layer and rename it shadow
  • Turn off the glow effects
  • Set the blend mode to normal

This will create a black circle that masks the planet, drag this layer down in the image and rotate it slightly to create a shadow. It looks better if you make the shadow slightly elliptical.

Next add a Gaussian blur effect to make the edges less defined.

Step 2.5 – Add the final outer glow

  • Copy the Atmos layer again and drag it to the top of the layer stack. Rename it Planet outer glow
  • Turn off the inner shadow and inner glow effects.
  • Reduce the opacity of the outer glow.

This will create an outer atmosphere over the shadow.

Step 3 – create clouds

  • Duplicate the planet layer. Rename it Clouds
  • Set the blend mode to screen on the new layer
  • add a levels adjustment layer.

The levels are adjusted to give a cloud effect by reducing the black and white levels untill a cloud effect is achieved.

Finally rotate the clouds layer 90 degrees clockwise so that the clouds do not match the planet texture underneath.

Add a Gaussian blur effect to the clouds and adjust to make the cloud edges less defined.

Step 4- create continents

  • Duplicate the planet layer. Rename it Land
  • Set the blend mode to normal on the new layer
  • Remove the black and white adjustment layer
  • add a HSL adjustment layer.

Use the HSL adjustment layer to create land of any colour you like. Rotate the land layer 90 degrees anticlockwise so that the land layer is displaced from the cloud layer.

That completes the project

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