Feb 08, 2017

How to Add Stars in Photoshop

Learn how to quickly and easily add stars to any night photo in Photoshop!

Download the Sample Images

Use Stock Images of Stars

If you don’t have any star photos of your own, you can always use stock images. Simply type “Stars” into your stock image website of choice and find your favorite photo.

To composite the star photo into your original image, use the move tool and click-and-drag the star image onto your original photo. Resize the stars if necessary, just be sure not to stretch them out.

If the star photo isn’t large enough to fill the entire sky, try duplicating it and moving the layer to fill in the gaps. As long as there aren’t any recognizable patterns in the stars, it shouldn’t be apparent that the photo has been duplicated.

How to Use Blending Modes and Clipping Masks

To make the stars blend into the night sky, change the blending mode of the star layer to “Screen.” Screen blend mode makes anything black invisible, leaving only the light visible, which is perfect for star photos.

If you find that the star image isn’t blending in well, try making the dark areas even darker – making them disappear.

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer and clip it to the star layer by right-clicking on the Adjustment Layer and selecting “Create Clipping Mask.” Now, move the mid-point slider in the Levels Adjustment layer until the stars blend perfectly into the original sky.

Be Sure to Mask the Foreground!

When adding stars to a sky, you want to be sure they don’t show up in front of trees, houses, and mountains.

Create a selection using the magic wand tool of the original sky. The important part of the selection is the area where the sky meets land, don’t worry about getting the rest of the selection perfect. Once the selection is active, click on the layer mask icon to add a layer mask to the star image or group.

Fill in the rest of the sky with on the layer mask and the stars will only be visible in the sky!

Download the Sample Images

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  • user image
    Jason Smith


    I could see evidence of existing stars in the photo, the exposure was long enough to make star trails yet there were none in the overlayed photo.

    second care should be taken especially with well know star formation not to manipulate the photo too much say wild transform or ect so that it looks believable.

    I enjoyed that tutorial immensely. thank you

  • user image

    Thanks again Aaron for sharing….new hair…nice one….anyway, it’s always been nice however you do it especially your work of art.

  • user image

    Finally a useful tutorial where it is about the subject and not the person giving it.

  • user image

    Many many thanks for all of the excellent tutorials you post. Great content and great presentation.

  • user image

    Thanks for the tutorial on stars. Makes a dull sky certainly stand out. Great tips and great haircut, (but I did like the long hair)…the new look suits you!!

  • Kristian

    As every time a super fine tutorial – may I suggest that you make one about adding stars using brushes – I am sure you could make great random star brushes, that would be tons better than the preset ones.

  • Kristian

    Great tutorial as always. May I suggest a tutorial on how to create great looking random start using brushes. The standard ones are really not that great.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add Stars in Photoshop