Black Sun

How to make this:
Black Sun

This is based on a few different techniques: Shocking Sphere, Starfield and Paths and Paths part 2.

This was done with GIMP 2.2.

  1. New image, 600x600. Black background. Hide the background.
  2. The Sphere:
    1. New layer. Filters -> Render -> Clouds -> solid noise with X=8 and Y=8.
    2. Filters -> Artistic -> Cubism
    3. Filters -> Edge-Detect -> Edge, with Sobel and default values. This should give you a black image with jagged white lines, like cracks.
    4. Filters -> Map -> Map Object
      Map to: Sphere
      Transparent background: on
      Lightsource type: none
      This should give you a sphere with jagged lines on its surface.
    5. Now here comes the cunning bit; we flatten out the sphere and do stuff to it.
      Filters -> Distorts -> Polar Coords
      Map from top: off
      To polar: off
    6. Layers -> Transform -> Rotate 90 degrees CCW
    7. Filters -> Distorts -> Wind
      Style: wind
      Direction: right
      Edge Affected: Leading
      Threshold: 32
      Strength: 10
    8. Image -> Transform -> Rotate 90 degrees CCW
    9. Filters -> Distorts -> Polar Coords
      Map from top: on
      To polar: on
    10. We should now have the sphere back again, but with streaks of light and with a white border. Use the magic-wand selection tool to select the white border, and delete it. (Ctrl-K)
    11. Duplicate the sphere layer, and set the copy to Screen mode. This will make the white parts brighter.
  3. The Atmosphere
    Or maybe it should be called the photosphere or something like that.
    1. Make centre guides (Image -> Guides). Make a new transparent layer.
    2. Make the foreground colour white. Pick the foreground-to-transparent gradient. Select the Gradient tool, and pick a Radial gradient (with no repeat). Make the gradient from the centre of the image to the edge of the sphere.
    3. Filters -> Blur -> Motion Blur
      Blur Type: zoom
      Length: 25-35 (adjust this to taste)
    4. Move the atmosphere layer below the sphere layer. You may wish to adjust its opacity.
  4. Un-hide the black background.
  5. Make a new transparent layer, and set the mode to "Color". Select the Gradient tool, Radial selection. Pick or make a gradient with yellows, oranges and reds. (Or some other set of colours if you want it to be a planet and not a sun) Make the gradient from the centre of the image outwards. Experiment with different gradients until you get colours you like.
  6. Starfield
    We only want small stars, so we'll only follow the first two parts of the Starfield tutorial.
    1. New black layer
    2. Filter -> Noise -> Scatter-HSV
      Holdness: 4
      Hue: 0
      Saturation: 0
      Value: 190
    3. Layer -> Colors -> Brightness-Contrast
      Brightness: -25
      Contrast: +55
      This is the "small stars" layer.
    4. Repeat the previous steps with a new black layer. The reason for doing this rather than just duplicating the layer is that we want the second starfield layer to have a different randomness to the first one, rather than being an exact copy.
    5. Layer -> Colors -> Brightness-Contrast
      Brightness: -70
      Contrast: +40
      This is the "big stars" layer.
    6. Layer -> Scale Layer
      Scale the layer by 200%.
    7. Now to make these bigger stars more visible.
      Layer -> Colors -> Invert (to make it easier to see)
      Layer -> Colors -> Threshold
      Move the scale up so that there are many black dots; something like 230-237 is a good value.
    8. Layer -> Colors -> Invert (to get white stars on black again)
    9. Scale the layer back to almost its original size.
      Layer -> Scale Layer
      Scale the layer by 53%
    10. Layer -> Center Layer
    11. Set the mode of the big-stars layer to Screen.
    12. Now, we have lots and lots of stars here, too many. Select the brush tool. Pick a very large soft brush, and make the foreground colour black. Set the mode of the brush to Overlay. Then scribble over both stars layers to thin out the stars.
    13. You may want to make some finishing touches by taking a small fuzzy brush in normal mode, and blacking out individual stars from the big-stars layer.
    14. Merge down, to merge the two stars layers together. Layer to Image Size.
  7. Text cut-out
    1. Select the text tool. Pick a thick font. Make the colour a neutral grey that you can see over the starfield. Type your chosen word. Make the font-size large enough that the word is as wide as the image.
    2. Layer -> Center Layer
    3. Now here's the clever bit. Click on the "Create path from text" button in the Text tool options.
    4. Open the Paths dialogue, and make the path visible (by clicking the Eye icon).
    5. Select the Scale tool. Pick the "Affect paths" option. Scale the path until it fills most of the image. It may be easier to do this if you zoom out to view at 50% and make empty space around the image, so that you can drag the Scale bars by eye.
    6. Go to the Layers dialogue, hide the text layer, and make the stars layer active. If you don't do this, then the Text layer will probably be the active layer, which means your selection in the next step will be truncated.
    7. Back to the Paths dialogue, and do "Path to Selection". Hide the path.
    8. Back to the Layers dialogue, and Clear the selection (Ctrl-K). Select None. You have now cut out the word from the stars layer, and the sun should be showing through.
  8. Done! Flatten the image and save it.