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Design A Starry Octopus Graphic

In this tutorial you will learn how to use stock images, brushes and textures to create a great looking graphic.
The background for this image is from a collection of paper textures provided by dA member Dioma which can be downloaded here.
Open a new 3500×3500 Photoshop document and place the texture. Resize the texture and take the saturation down to -50.
The octopus stock is provided by dA member ravenarcana and can be foundhere.
Once you have downloaded it place it onto the centre of your image.

Duplicate the octopus layer.
Select the bottom layer then go Image>Adjustments>Threshold then take it to the maximum level.
Now select the top layer and Auto adjust the curves.
Now go to Threshold again and take it to 55.
Hide this layer, we will come back to it later.
Now we will add the stars.
As a guide to positioning the stars create a solid white circle around the octopus.

Create a new layer above the circle, this is where you will paint your stars.
The brush set you will need to paint these stars is provided by dA member redheadstock and can be downloaded here.
Choose the solid standard star brush set to 190 px. As you paint the stars gradually decrease the the size of the brush.

I imagined the circle was cut into four segments and assigned a star of each size to every quarter, and ended up with 9 stars in each quarter. You needn’t be quite so fussy about this as I was because ultimately you want the stars to appear randomly placed, but just make sure your stars do NOT go outside the circle!
Once you have placed all 36 stars you can delete the circle guide, or just hide it incase you think you might need it later for further star placement adjusting.
Now merge your stars layer with the black octopus layer and call it ‘silhouette’.

Here is the image of a reflection nebula found on NASA’s website. But have a look round the site to see if there is another photo that you prefer.
Place it onto your image and adjust it’s size so that it is just large enough to cover all the stars.

Adjust the levels.
Add a layer mask to your nebula layer then select the layer mask.
Now go Image>Apply Image…
In the box choose the ‘silhouette’ layer then click OK. This has filled the nebula’s layer mask with the shape of the silhouette layer.
Then go Image>Adjusments>Invert so invert the colour of the layer mask so that now the nebula layer is only visibe in the shape of your silhouette layer.
You can now hide or delete the silhouette layer.

To bring some detail to the octopus unhide the other octopus layer and place it above the nebula layer.
Change its blending mode to Multiply and it’s opacity to 80%.
The large star is from the same stars set as the one used earlier to paint the smaller stars. Create a new layer for it below the nebula layer, and increase the brushes size to 2500 px.
Group all of the layers except for the background together and select the group. Use the transform tool to scale it down a little.

Add a Gradient adjustment layer above all the other layers and use the settings shown below.
Change the adjustment layer’s blending mode to Overlay.
Duplicate this layer so that you now have 2 gradient adjustment layers. Double-click on the icon of either one of the gradient layers then adjust it’s scale to 150. So you now have one gradient layer with a scale of 100, and one 150.
You are now finished, and your layers panel should look like the one below.
And your final image will look like this.