I Present You with Saturn as Rendered in Photoshop CS5 Extended

Did you ever have one of those nights where you had a major project due the next day and you spent all night dreaming about it? A very long time ago, I was working for UPS during the Christmas season, and my girlfriend (at the time) told me I actually started moving boxes in my sleep. Well, I had one of those all-night dreams recently. But it was about Saturn.

Saturn as rendered in Photoshop CS5 Extended

That’s not a NASA shot captured by a Voyager space probe, btw. That’s 100% Photoshop. And yet it’s largely scientifically accurate, based on data from that very probe.

So anyway, I went to bed one recent night thinking, I think I’ll start off my upcoming Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Fundamentals video course (coming soon from lynda.com) with a chapter about how to make Saturn. After all, Saturn is just a sphere with a bunch of rings around it. How much simpler could it be?

And I woke up the next morning, with a jerk, from a nightmare. In which I had a had something resembling an epiphany.

Most of those work-nightmare dreams are pointless, right? You dream you’re doing some work task (or, for you college students, some homework task) over and over and actually making progress. And then you wake and think, damn! What the hell was that about?! Why did my subconscious waste a perfectly good slumber worrying about stupid, pointless, I-do-it-all-day, give-me-a-break-already work junk? I could’ve been dreaming about sex. Or something truly momentous and magical. Like sex.

But this time, my ponderous workaday nightmare had been about the rings. Thousands of them! And you can’t simulate Saturn without knowing the exact opacity level of each and every one.

Which is why I researched the rings and found the answers. I stress, this is not some pre-drawn Photoshop object, this is something I teach you how to make. In the first chapter of Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Fundamentals, I’ll demonstrate how to create Saturn, complete with fully realized color and texture, as well as accurately rendered rings. And of course once you construct the 3D scene, you can move your camera in for any view you like. (Click the image below for an enhanced view.)

Photoshop CS5 Extended's Saturn up close and personal

Amazingly, it’s not all that hard to pull off. It’ll take about an hour to watch the movies. And it looks crazy-sci-fi authentic. For you space geeks (I count myself among you), it’s something to look forward to.

Next entry:I Am Geeking Out Over 3D in Photoshop Extended

Previous entry:The Anwer to Yesterday’s Puzzler


  • That’s really interesting

    That’s really interesting stuff to me, Deke. Thank you very much in advance smile

  • A whole new angle on 3D

    Wow really looking forward to that one! A whole new angle one the 3D stuff that’s possible in PS Ex. And I still need more scenarios and ways to really take advantage of the 3D features.

  • Awesome stuff man!

    Awesome stuff man!

  • Ring Shadows?

    I sure hope there are ring shadows rendered too.  When is this being released Deke?

  • Can’t you see the ring shadows?

    They’re right there, on the surface of Saturn!


    Hopefully, late March. Maybe early April.

    Here’s the image for Chapter 2, which is about creating 3D type in Repouss√©. Yee gads, it’s unusually tasteful. For me.

    3D paper type as rendered using Repoussé in Photoshop CS5 Extended

  • Ring Shadows

    Sorry Deke, I thought that was surface stuff, striations, winds etc.

  • That’s really quite a good look!

    I like Saturn! Because I always believe, Palmistry. And my planet is Saturn (Capricorn). Saturn is mainly different of others planet from our globe! This is really cool 3D effect editing! Nice smile

  • Slight correction

    The rings are awesome, but I would like to point out that if you are going for an authentic look; Saturn is not a spherical planet.  Due to the high speed at which it spins on its axis it is approximately 10% flatter at the poles.  In the Voyager & Cassini imagery it is always a visibly flattened ball.  Just FYI.

  • Two things, Kfridge

    A) You’re a nerd (but you knew that) and B) we love nerds. Welcome to our slightly flattened world.

Share your feedback, work, homages, questions, wisecracks, advice, critiques, riffs, derision (within reason), frustrations, and love of all things graphical. Log in (or register) to lend your voice.