Ticking Space

Ticking Space

Create an easy yet breathtaking space environment by combining different images and experimenting with Pixelmator effects.

A stock images of a clock, the space aura and planets are recommended for accomplishing the tutorial, but is not required. Feel free to substitute the space images and clock with any other.

The Gradient Tool, selection tools, layers, effects, adjustment tools, and transform tools are used in the tutorial.

Step 1

Create a new image in Pixelmator. To achieve a result similar to that shown in the tutorial, use a size of 1200×800 pixels; however, feel free to use any size.

Step 2

Click to select the Gradient Tool in the Tools palette. In the Gradients palette (View > Show Gradients), click the Action button and choose New Gradient to create a new gradient preset. Create a radial gradient with purple and dark purple colors. Click OK.

Using the Gradient Tool, apply the recently created gradient, so that the lighter color appears in the middle.

Step 3

To create a space environment, add some stars:

  1. Click the Add button (+) to add a new layer in the Layers palette (View > Show Layers).
  2. Choose Edit > Fill. In the Fill palette, set the Color to black, and click OK.
  3. Then, double-click the Noise thumbnail in the Effects Browser, and set the Amount to approximately 15. Make sure to select the Monochrome checkbox for the grayscale noise, and click OK.
  4. Please note that the Noise effects looks most accurate with a 100% Zoom (View > Actual Pixels).

  5. In the Layers palette, change the Blending of the layer containing the Noise effect to Screen, as the Screen mode creates a bleached effect.
  6. In order to make the starry sky look more realistic, reduce the number of stars. Double-clicking the Brightness thumbnail in the Effects Browser to bring up the color adjustment dialog. Adjust the Brightness and Contrast values as follows: Brightness to -10, Contrast to 35 and click OK.

Step 4

Once the stars are applied, add some clouds:

  1. Add a new layer in the Layers palette.
  2. In the Effects Browser, double-click the Clouds thumbnail. Set the Primary Color to black and the Secondary Color to white, and click OK.
  3. In the Layers palette, change the Blending of the layer that contains the clouds to Multiply, since the Multiply blending mode darkens and tones down the color of an image.

Step 5

Import and position a clock image into the composition:

  1. In the Layers palette, double-click on the the layer with a clock image and rename it “Clock”.
  2. Use the Move Tool to position the picture of the clock so that it nicely fits in the composition.
  3. If the clock is not yet cut out from the background, use any of the selection tools to cut out the clock to get rid of the background that is around it.
  4. If necessary, change the size of the clock by choosing Edit > Transform and drag the handles on the bounding box.

Step 6

To add some glow to the cosmic clock:

  1. Choose Edit > Duplicate to duplicate the clock layer. Double-click on the duplicate layer’s name in the Layers palette and rename it Glow. Move the “Glow” layer below the original planet layer.
  2. Then double-click the Zoom thumbnail in the Effects Browser. Place the pointer of a rope on the center of the planet. Set Amount to approximately 20 and click OK.
  3. In order to blend the glow effect with the composition, change the “Glow” layer’s Blending to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 60 in the Layers palette.

Step 7

To match the clock colors with the composition:

  1. Duplicate the “Clock” layer by choosing Edit > Duplicate.
  2. Rename it “Clock Colors”.
  3. With a “Clock Colors” layer selected, double-click the Color Balance thumbnail in the Effects Browser. Drag the Midtones sliders closer to Red and Blue colors. Click OK.

Step 8

Import an image with a space aura into the composition. Choose Edit > Transform and scale to fit the image in the composition. In the Layers palette change the space aura layer’s Blending to Screen.

Step 9

Repeat the previous (8) step by importing and fitting planet images into the composition. Also, reduce the Opacity of the layers containing planets from 50 to 60%. Use the Eraser Tool to erase the remaining visible edges of the images that contain planets. Use the the image below as a reference.

Step 10

And the last touch – warm filter. To make the image look warm and a little bit vintage:

  1. Add a new layer above the other and rename it “Warm Filter.”
  2. With a “Warm Filter” layer selected choose Edit > Fill and fill the layer with an orange color.
  3. Change “Warm Filter” layer’s Blending to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 30%.

Step 11

In order to make the illustration look like a vintage picture, add some grain:

  1. Add a new layer above the others.
  2. Choose Edit > Fill and fill the layer with black color.
  3. Apply the Noise effect with the Amount set to approximately 8.
  4. Change the layer containing noise Blending to Screen and reduce the Opacity to approximately 10%.

And the space clock picture is done! Feel free to experiment with the tutorial by using various different space objects and stars, colors or brushes to create stunning vintage space illustrations of your own!

Tutorial Comments

  1. Truso -

    Hm. Now the question is why, when I adjust the levels on step 2 and click OK, it goes back to the way it was before. Surely that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

  2. Ausra -


    Setting zoom to 100% should help. You can do that either on the Zoom tools palette or choose View > Actual Pixels.

  3. Alexei Popov -

    Hey there, nice tutorial. Problem on step 2, you did not point out that we had to fill the screen with black before applying the noise. After several minutes of troubleshooting i noticed that your ‘fill’ tool was open and the ‘stars’ layer was black. No worries though, please explain this clearly and keep writing great looking tutorials! :)

  4. Alexei Popov -

    last note, the same error exists on step 11, where you did not point out that we had to make a grey background on the top filter.. unless we didn’t and I misunderstood some sort of convention. This is my first time using this software so excuse my ignorance if it is present :) I love the result! Took only half an hour with your great steps!

  5. Ausra -


    Thanks! Tutorial has been updated.

  6. Bailey -

    Wow my favorite tutorial so far. Thanks

  7. QX -

    Nice adaptation to prague main clock tower (Prazsky orloj) http://www.google.cz/images?q=prazsky+orloj&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=cs&tab=wi&biw=1280&bih=554

  8. Roy -

    Genial me encanto acabo de comprar el programa completo…Seguiré viendo tutoriales para sacarle el mejor provecho.


  9. rdmick -

    When I copy the clock image and paste it into my document, the scale is much larger, and most of the clock image gets deleted. How can I paste a large image into a smaller document so that the scale remains the same and I don’t lose most of the image?

  10. Ausra -


    Try using Transform tool to scale the image down. Choose Edit > Transform.

  11. John Daniel -

    Nice tutorial. i like how you use different blending modes to create effects as well as using filters to achieve a cool space style :) Love it!

  12. RobbieK -

    Love it! My first play and worked out really well!!

  13. Alex -

    This worked out amazing.

  14. vittorio guglielmini -

    tutorial in italiano

  15. Mathias -

    Nice effects, but this is mainly just taking pictures from others and using them yourself (:

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