Creating On A Limited Budget Part 4 of 5

Welcome back to “Creating On A Limited Budget”; a guide to using low-cost and free software that can help you to create professional quality art without breaking the bank.

In this 4th installment of the series, we’ll have some fun with the plug-ins Lunar Cell, Glitterato, Solar Cell and Universe Image Creator.
I’ll highlight three images using these plug-in tools within Corel PhotoPaint.
Click on the thumbnail images for a larger view of each step.


“The Big Bang” is featured as the first panel in my recent post In My Dream… as a representation of the birth of the universe.

First I rendered an explosive flash as the central element of the image using Solar Cell.  I used the flat texture setting with a bright white center, prominent spikes and a halo effect (figure 1).

The Big Bang 01_the explosion

Figure 1: The Big Bang

Looks pretty cool by itself but there’s more to come.

Next I used Glitterato to render clouds of heated gas expanding outward from the central explosion and added this as a layer set to “screen” mode so the central explosion would show through (figure 2). I made sure to set Glitterato’s textured settings fairly high because the cloud effect must be visible in the final render.

The Big Bang 02_expanding gas cloud

figure 2: The Big Bang
Gas Cloud Layer

Now for the finishing touch.  Again, using Glitterato I rendered a softer, less textured background cloud layer, also set to “screen’ mode allowing all elements to be seen (figure 3).

The Big Bang 03_background glow

Figure 3: The Big Bang
Background Glow Layer
Final Image

With image complete we have “The Big Bang”!!

Or at least, my interpretation of it…


“In The Sea Of Stars” actually started as a test render combining Glitterato’s nebula effects with the textured star and star field effects of Universe Image Creator. There were seven layers all told and here’s how it looked when the layers were combined (figure 1).

In The Sea Of Stars 01_nebula_stars

Figure 1: In The Sea Of Stars
Nebula and Star Field

Look at the colors of the clouds, the varied brightness of the stars!!

I was so impressed with the results that I couldn’t leave the scene empty.

Turning to Lunar Cell I created a terrestrial planet, making sure to set just the right amount of texturing for the continents and cloud cover.  I added the planet as a masked object in a separate layer using Lunar Cell’s “composite” setting (figure 2). If you look closely, you’ll see the lights of cities on the dark side of the planet (another of Lunar Cell’s many cool features).

In The Sea Of Stars 02_planet

Figure 2: In The Sea Of Stars
Planet Layer

I decided that this planet needed a moon and not just any cold, barren moon.  Within Lunar Cell I created a rust colored Mars-like moon with a thin atmosphere and sparse cloud cover, adding it in a separate layer using Lunar Cell’s “composite” setting. After some positioning of planet and moon and the addition of my signature, the image was complete (figure 3).

In The Sea Of Stars 03_moon_final image

Figure 3: In The Sea Of Stars
Moon Layer
Final Image

“In The Sea Of Stars” is one of my all-time favorite space art creations.


“Violent Neighbor” was a self-challenge project for me.

How would I create a convincing irregular spiral galaxy using Universe Image Creator?

Using Universe’s galaxy tools I created a dense spiral galaxy.  I combined many layers of blurred spiral gas, added several layers of blurred stars  and finally a layer of non-blurred stars.  Happy with the galaxy, I set out to use Universe’s nebula tools to create jets of exploding gas radiating from the galaxy’s center. After a lot of trial and error (and liberal use of the “undo” button) I came up with this (figure 1).

Violent Neighbor 01_galaxy

Figure 1: Violent Neighbor
Galaxy Layer

This was a pretty good representation of an irregular spiral galaxy based on the many resource photos I viewed on the Hubble Space Telescope website.

Next I added a layer of textured stars (figure 2) and a star field layer (figure 3).

Violent Neighbor 02_textured stars

Figure 2: Violent Neighbor
Textured Stars Layer

Violent Neighbor 03_star field

Figure 3: Violent Neighbor
Star Field Layer

I added a Lunar Cell moon to the image… (figure 4).

Violent Neighbor 04_moon

Figure 4: Violent Neighbor
Moon Layer

And a terrestrial planet (figure 5).

Violent Neighbor 05_planet_final image

Figure 5: Violent Neighbor
Planet Layer
Final Image

Now this planet’s inhabitants will be able to view this unique galaxy with me (at a safe distance, of course).

In the 5th (and final) installment of this series I’ll explore images created using the Mandelbulber 3D fractal generator.  Mandelbulber’s unique objects combined with the plug-ins featured in today’s post can produce unusual and spectacular results. You won’t want to miss it!!

As always, your comments and critiques are encouraged.



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