How to Create Star Trails in Photoshop Using Actions

Do your landscape photos lack star trails? Maybe the weather wasn’t cooperating, or maybe your camera isn’t the finest at photographing long exposures, and if that’s the case, don’t worry because you can still produce star trails in Photoshop that look realistic.

The best part is that this effect only requires one image.

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to effortlessly generate star trails in Photoshop.

In this tutorial, I’ll be using Photoshop 2022 but any version will work.

Click here to download the image and follow along.

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

Before After

How to Create Star Trails

Step 1: Duplicate your Background

Open up your image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer by pressing CTRL + J.

Star Trails
Duplicate Background Layer

Next, right-click on this new layer and convert it into a Smart Object.

Star Trails
Convert to Smart Object

Step 2: Create the Effect

Double click on the thumbnail of the Smart Object Layer then, go to Window > Actions.

Star Trails
Double Click on the Thumbnail
Star Trails
Go to Window > Actions

Next, select Stars Trails.

Star Trails
Select Stars Trails

Then, select Star Trails Rotation and click on the Play Button.

Rotation
Star Trails Rotation

Next, press CTRL + S to save and exit out the window.

So far your image should look like the image below.

Step 3: Let’s Make Some Adjustments

First, let’s add a Layer Mask to the top layer then press CTRL + I to invert that mask.

By inverting the mask, the star trails will disappear but don’t worry we’ll bring them back.

Add a Layer Mask
Add a Layer Mask

Next, press B and select a Soft Round Brush. Make sure the foreground color is set to white.

Set the Opacity and the Flow of your brush to 100%.

Soft Round Brush
Soft Round Brush
Foreground Color set to White
Opacity and Flow at 100%
Opacity and Flow at 100%

We can now bring back the star trails by painting in white on our Layer Mask.

Only paint the sky and go around the person by adjusting the size of your brush.

Do not paint the ground.

If you need to erase some of the Stars Press X to change the foreground color to black. (White makes the stars to show, black makes them disappear)

The top of your Layer Mask should be white and the bottom should be black.

Pain Back the Star Trails
Pain Back the Star Trails

To finish our project we’ll add 1 adjustment layer.

First, go to your Layer Panel and add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer then, set the Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights as shown below.

Color Balance Adjustment Layer
Color Balance Adjustment Layer
Midtones
Midtones
Shadows
Shadows
Highlights
Highlights

And We Are Done!

Final Result
Final Result

After following this tutorial, you should be able to Create Star Trails in Photoshop. I hope you found this guide useful and easy to follow. If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know in the comments down below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Also Read:

How to Easily Auto-Blend Layers in Photoshop

Simple Way to Create a Warp Text Effect in Photoshop

Easy Way To Turn White Into Any Color In Photoshop