Published on July 8, 2022

In this blog I’ll show you how to create a star trail in Adobe Photoshop.

If you’d rather watch the video tutorial, click here or scroll down to the end of this page.

Click here to download the photo I used.


Step 1: Prepair image

Open the image you want to edit. Press CTRL+J to duplicate the background layer. Then convert this new layer to a smart object.

Double click on the smart object thumbnail. This layer will now open in a new tab.


Make sure you’ve selected the new tab before continuing with the next step.


Step 2: Create star trail

Navigate to ‘Window > Actions‘. If you can’t find the star trail option, click on the striped icon and select ‘stars trails‘. Then select ‘star trails rotation‘ and click on the play button.


Photoshop will now create the star trail. Once the star trail is done, press CTRL+S to save it. This will apply the star trail to the layer in the other tab. So you can now close this tab and go back to the original file you were editing.


Step 3: Masking

As you can see, the star trail covers part of the foreground. To fix that, make layer 1 (the layer with the star trail) invisible by clicking on the eye icon. Then select the background layer and select the quick selection tool. Make a selection of the foreground.


Make the star trail layer visible again (click on the empty box where the eye icon was) and select that layer. Add a layer mask.

The star trail now only covers the foreground. You want it to cover the sky though. To fix that, select the layer mask and navigate to ‘Image > Adjustments > Invert‘ or press CTRL+I. The star trail now covers the sky.


If you want to make the star trail effect a bit more subtle, you can lower the opacity of the star trail layer. I lowered the opacity to 70%. You can see the result in the image below!

star trail


And that’s how you create a star trail in Adobe Photoshop! Want to learn more about editing in Photoshop? Check out my other blogs or take a look at my YouTube channel

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated! You can find the video tutorial below.


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Create a star trail in Photoshop

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