Alien Sky Tutorial: Getting Cosmic On Instagram
I don’t know about you, but I have a deep fondness for 70’s fusion rock album covers. You know, the ones that portrayed tripped out alien worlds with strange vistas and giant, mysterious planetary orbs in the sky. Oh if only we could turn my mundane sunset iPhone photos into such spaced-out masterpieces!
Here is my tutorial on using the Alien Sky app to do just that. Tutorial level: Beginner.
Samples of Alien Skies
Here are some celestial observations I have made with Alien Sky from my Instagram account.
To Infinity and Beyond
To get started with Alien sky simply open the app and choose to either take a new photo or load one from your camera roll. Once you have you will get the option to scale and crop your image. If you are planning to upload this image to Instagram then now is a great time to compose it into a square.
From there you will get the main screen for the app, from which you can add and edit your effects.
Adding an Effect with Aline Sky
With your image loaded, tap the “Effects” Icon at the bottom left of the screen. This will pop up the numerous effect options that you can add to an image. You can drag to scroll the categories left to right and tap and icon to see what is in the category. Categories include planets/moons, alien worlds and stars.
Scrolling left and right in a category will reveal the plethora of effect options you have to choose from. Tap an effect to add it to your image.
Editing an Effect with Alien Sky
Once the effect is on your photo you can drag it around with a single finger. With two fingers you can scale (pinch) and rotate (twist) it to get it into just the right spot. To get even more options for how this effect looks, tap the edit button.
In the edit pop up screen you can adjust the brightness, opacity and blur of the effect. There are also quick flip buttons to reverse it and a reset button to start it over. To play with the coloring of the effect, tap the “Advanced” button to get access to a tint selection color wheel and saturation adjustment.
Adding More Effects with Layers
One planet does not a cosmic ecstasy make, so let’s add some stars. Tap the “Layers” button to open the layers pop up. You will see a list of layers, with the effect you have added already in the first spot. To switch to a new, empty layer tap the + in the layer you want to use.
This will open the effect selection and you are right back where you know what to do, only this time you are adding an additional effect on a new layer. You can come back to this layer screen any time to add new layers, delete layers you no longer want, turn a layer’s visibility on or off and adjust the stacking order of the layers you are using.
Tips and Trick with the Alien Sky App
Here are some of my favorite moves with the Alien Sky App:
Add stars to a sunset sky: What could possibly make a sunset more beautiful? Why, adding just a hint of stars to it in the upper areas where the sky is beginning to darken.
Layer Planets on Top of each other: The effect are all somewhat transparent by default, and you can get some pretty cool results by layering one planet on another, giving the impression of a single planet that has more complexity.
Pre production: Use an app like Snapseed (see my tutorial here) to prepare your image to make so that the addition of celestial objects looks more natural. I suggest using the Retrolux filter to make a daytime photo into something more receptive to giant glowing planets and stars.
Post production: Use an app like Mextures (see my tutorial here) to play with the end results after you have added your effects in Alien Sky. All of my examples above were given a Mextures treatment.
There are plenty of places you can go from here, though these basics cover more possibilities than you may ever exhaust. For starters you can get more effects with in app purchases. The app maker also offers some other cool apps that work just the same but have different themed effects like dinosaurs and space ships. Check them out on the app store.