Create a Planetary Asteroid Impact

While asteroids don’t slam into the Earth all that often, movie producers sure act like they do. We can all think up a few movies with similar plots.

An asteroid is about to hit the planet and a group of heroes comes to save the day. In this tutorial, the heroes aren’t successful and we learn the hard way what an asteroid impact actually feels like. Let’s get started!

Tutorial Details
  • Applications Used: Adobe Photoshop CS2+
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Estimated Completion Time: 3h +

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Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial. For the clouds and Planet surface choose the big tiff file for download.

Step 1-The Planet

Recently I have received some messages that my tutorials could only be followed and made on CS5, and that this latest version provided unique tools that allowed me to make the images; even if CS5 is used and sometimes we use unique tools available only on it, the same result can be achieved in much older PS versions. So for this Tutorial, lets use Photoshop CS2 for the whole scene, yet you are OK with CS3, 4 and 5. Actually I wanted to use Version 7 yet it doesn’t work on Snow leopard anymore. OK that being said, first off lets create a document for our image with the settings shown here.

We will use this satellite image of Greece and Turkey to build up the planet surface, so just copy it and paste it to our document in a new layer.

Once we have it in our document, enable the distort command.

And distort the image as shown here, to create the illusion of perspective and depth.

Then to create a bit of spherical distortion we will go to the warp command.

Then pull and push on the lines and borders as shown here.

And use the rotate command to place the image as shown bellow.

Now we will use the layer style for our surface, and enable the outer glow plus we will change the color for the glow using the light blue indicated.

Then we will increase the size of the glow as shown here.

And there we have it, a nice outer atmosphere soft glow we can edit at any time.

Next up lets create a clipping layer on top of the planet layer.

Then select black and a big soft brush as shown below.

And paint in as shown here over most of the surface.

And then select the eraser and also a big soft brush with a bit of reduced opacity to clear out a bit of the border.

Then just set the layer mode to overlay and also with a bit of reduced opacity.

Now create a second clipped layer and choose a light blue color as shown.

Now choose a big soft brush as shown and before painting change the layer style size to 161.

Now just paint a bit over the border to pair it up with the outer glow of the atmosphere. And that is it we have the base of the planet ready.

Step 2 – Shockwave

OK lets now make the base of our shock wave on the planet surface, starting by using the ellipse shape tool and defining a big round disk with the same light blue we used for the atmosphere.

Once you have it in place, rasterize the layer so we can work on it, and lock the pixels on it.

Select a deep blue color and a big soft brush once again.

Adjust the spacing in the brush palette as shown here.

Then just paint in a circular motion over the edge as seen here.

Lets choose the smudge tool and set a soft brush with the size and strength as shown below.

Then again in a circular motion go over what we painted as indicated here.

Next up, select the ellipse selection tool and define a circular selection in the center of our smugged shape.

Right click on the selection and choose transform selection.

Scale the selection a bit and place it right in the center of the shape.

Then right click on the selection once again and select feather this time; enter 100 pixels and hit OK.

Then simply hit delete.

Now we will use the distort command once again, and reshape the circle as shown bellow, changing its perspective and making it appear to lay on the surface.

Set the layer mode to vivid light.

OK this is more or less what you should have so far.

Create a hue/saturation layer on top and create a clipping mask for it.

Now lets set up this layer as shown here.

Next, select a light blue such as this and a soft brush as shown below.

Paint around the border as indicated, making the edge more apparent.

Select a deep blue almost black color and paint in the middle of the circle.

Now grab the smudge tool once again and a small soft brush as shown.

Push in a bit from the edge as indicated.

Now select both the circle layer and its hue/sat layer, and make a duplicate. Then scale the duplicates and place them centered as shown.

Then lets go back to the brush tool with the selected brush shown below.

And in the new smaller circle lets paint in some differences as shown.

Lets go back to the bigger circle and with the same brush also paint in some random detail.

Locate and select the brush shown here.

In the brush palette lets enable these settings for shape dynamics and scattering.

Now just paint in some random edge detail as shown here. That is it we have the base of the impact wave ready and placed on the surface so we can continue our work.

…and that’s the end of the preview!

View The Tutorials

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