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Makin' a Nebula by removing stars in Photoshop, then animating in After Effects

In this tutorial, the first of four of creating nebulas in Adobe After Effects, I start by getting an image of the Horsehead nebula from Nasa's image galleries. I run it through Photoshop to remove the stars and background, using the Select Color Range, spot removal and the background removal tool. Once cleaned, I drop it into After Effects and use CC Particle World to add dust, gases and 3D stars.

Image credit: Nasa
Expression used:
if (time < thisComp.frameDuration) {
effect("Stars Amount")("Slider")*40
} else {

Other videos referenced:
Linking CC Particle World to a 3D Null in After Effects:

Makin' Starfields:

Download project file:
(Also includes the Pillars of Creation from the Eagle Nebula as a second comp)

Here you'll find a bunch of tutorials for using After Effects (mainly). I have a YouTube channel, called ShiveringCactus (long story - not funny anymore) where I post the videos.


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after effects (10)
expressions (10)
Video copilot (7)
Orb (6)
space (5)
cc particle world (4)
planet (3)
particles (2)
rings (2)
stars (2)
rolling (2)
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