Scripts to Make your Star Trails Awesome

When it rains, look for rainbows. When it is dark, look for the stars.

Creative Trails UI & Creative Effects UI – Overview

Creative Trails UI and Creative Effects UI is an upgrade to the earlier released Creative Star Trails scripts from last year. Unlike the earlier scripts, have added an UI for the script,. It is now easy to control the parameters through the UI panel. No more code wrangling, to customize the effects …

Additionally have included Templates. Now you just need to pick up a template and bam – you can run the script. No need to worry about each of the configuration parameters. At the same time, if you are feeling adventurous and want to get more control – you can always edit the parameters through the UI panel.

Let us get started with some eye candy. Below are some samples that were created with these scripts. Don’t they look awesome :) Feel free to hover over – for the details on settings used or click thru to check full screen.

Download & Installation

downloadInstallation

Installing Photoshop scripts is very much like installing any other preset. First, copy the script into the Presets/Scripts subfolder:

My currently local location for the Photoshop scripts was
PC: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop xxx\Presets\Scripts\
Mac: <hard drive>/Applications/Adobe Photoshop xxx/Presets/Scripts/

where xxx –> Photoshop Version

Then, after you quit and restart Photoshop, the newly installed scripts will automatically appear in the File » Scripts submenu (in alphabetical order).

You need to have administrator access to copy the script files to Photoshop folder. Don’t worry, the scripts are completely safe to be copied into the Photoshop system folder. Just to make sure these script files are not mixed up with the existing Photoshop scripts.

Note that you can also create subfolders inside of the Presets/Scripts folder. This is helpful if you have a lot of scripts, or if you want to keep your own scripts logically grouped. Hence you can – Download the zip file, extract and copy the entire folder to the Photoshop Scripts location.

To run a script, simply select it by name from the File » Scripts submenu, or choose File » Scripts » Browse to locate and run scripts that don’t appear in the Scripts menu. Just that if the scripts are not copied to the default folder, they do not show up in the File » Scripts. You can still invoke them explicitly with File » Scripts » Browse

Bonus Tip : Since you would be running these scripts couple of times (in my workflow, I do), to arrive at the intended result, it would be very effective, if the scripts can be triggered with a shortcut key.

Jeff from Tranberry has provided simple steps to trigger any script via an action. Once you have the actions defined, you can easily set up a keyboard short for the same. I have mine set up to Ctrl+F2, Ctrl+F3 and Ctrl+F4.


Creative Trails UI

Do u have a single exposure of star shot, and would like to create a trail effect, check out this script !

Creative Trails UI is a nifty Photoshop script that aids  in creating amazing star trails based on a single exposure. The script comes in handy when a long exposure (of say 30 mins) is not possible, due to time constraints or weather etc. With the right configurations, it can also help create trails that is totally not possible in-camera.

This can be considered a prequel to the Creative Effects UI script that helps apply effects, to the trails you had created with this script or the ones created in camera. Below is a brief on what each of the settings control. Just jump in and create your trails.  And no, it is not cheating. It is just one more way to express your creative side :)

A quick note on each of the controls

CreativeTrailUI1.    Templates :

Template are a quick way to get you started. Selecting a template – sets the default values for the prominent styles. You can then continue to tweak the values or just accept and run the script.

This variable drives the pre-defined style.

  • Simple : Simple Circular star trails
  • Vortex (Clockwise) : Amazing vortex kind of trails, clock wise
  • Vortex (Anti Clockwise) : Amazing Vortex kind of trails, anti clockwise
  • Zoom : Zoom effect star trails. Effect is similar to zooming the lens while exposing for the stars

2.    Anchor Point (x,y):

The effect is centered around this point. The vortex or the zoom appears to originate around this point.

Bonus Tip : Just make sure to select a point with Pen Tool (keyboard shortcut : ‘p’), prior to initiating the script. And the script will make sure to identify and load the value for you. You can also manually update these values, as needed.

3.    Vortex Trim (x,y):

This defines trim of the effect. If both the values are same, the Vortex effect is uniform over both the axis i.e it will turn out to be circular. Introducing minor difference between the x & y will result in more elliptical effect. But be warned, higher values result in gaps on the trails furthest from the anchor point. Ideal values would be around 99.6 -100. Play around to get different results. The resolution of the shot, would also have an impact on the value being used here.

4.    Trail Length:

As the name goes, this defines the length of the trail. Have noticed 40 to be an ideal value for higher resolution shot. Along longer trails have a tendency to have gaps, when farthest from the Anchor Point.

Anything more than 100 results in geometric patterns on the final result. Am working to see if this can be addressed.

5.    Rotate Angle:

This defines the amount of incremental rotation when the effect is applied. This along with the Vortex trim can result in some creative effects. Ideal values are 0.1 to 0.5.

A zero value for this parameter will result in a Zoom Effect – one equivalent to slowly zooming the lens, while exposing the stars.


Creative Effects UI

 Do u have a series of  sequential star trail exposures, and would like to apply effects to the same, check out this script !

Creative Effects UI is an update to an earlier script from last year. I have added a UI to easily select the effects and also added few more effects to the bunch.

This can also be used as a stand alone script, that helps actuate and apply creative effects for your long (multiple stacked) star exposures. They also nicely complement the Creative Trails UI script to apply effects once you have created the tails in post production.

A quick note on each of the controls

CreativeEffectsUI1.    Blend Modes :

As the name suggests this controls the Blend Mode between the multiple layers. The default value is SKIP. Based on my trials, I suggest to use LIGHTEN for best results. For some types of images SCREEN might also come in handy. When trying out the script multiple times for different effects, you ideally want to skip the blend mode and play with the Creative Style. This is when the SKIP option is handy. When there is a large number of layers, this saves time.

2.    Creative Style :

This variable drives the pre-defined style.

  • Comet Style [left to right, right to left] : This is the preferred effect of comet streak – from light to dark. The effect can be from either of the directions. Try both and decide which suits better for your composition.
  • Saucer Style : I kind of liked this. It gives a strange metallic, yet smooth feel to the shot. The effect is similar to that of a flying saucer.
  • Space Ship Style : This is UFO or the space ship style. If u want to control the length of gap, u would want to get to the code :) This article provides some insight into the same.
  • Baseball Bat [left to right, right to left] : This provides an effect similar to base-ball bat, with a head on one end. This effect can again be from either of the directions. Try both and decide which suits better for your composition.
  • RESET : This resets the effects gets, in case you would like to go back to just the plain old boring trails.
  • SKIP : Skips the creative style option. This in combination with the Blend Mode, helps to play with the various blend modes for a given Creative Style.

Delete All But Selected Layers

This is more of an incidental script. As I was testing these scripts, I realized that I often was running the Create Trails UI multiple times to see how the final results looked. And it was tedious to get back to the single base layer before trying out the Create Trails UI again. Hence this script that helps deleted all but selected layers in a single click !

I found it real handy, Use it or Lose it, your call ;-)

FAQ

1.   Creative Star Trails – Is this not cheating ?

Don’t worry, it is not.

Shooting Stars is an experience unto itself. The intent of this script is not replace it. It is to compliment the same by providing even more creative options. I do not shy away from post processing. It helps bring out your creative vision. If you are still not convinced, sorry Post processing starts right when you shoot in JPEG. When you take a quick snap with you mobile, there is a lot of decision and processing that is done for you, behind the scenes. At the end it is all about the art and what u want to create ! Hope the final results inspires and aids in creating those shots, that u envision :)

2.  Why is this still in beta ?

This is not my day job, I tend to go out and shoot landscapes and astroscapes when I get some time. These scripts are a result of my interest in astrophotography and programming. I released the first version in 2013 and was overwhelmed with the response. This started as and is continuing to be a pet project. I will keep adding features as I find time. I am neither an expert in scripting nor Photoshop, hence some of these might not be the best optimized way of doing things.  Hence am leaving the beta tag, as a caution :)

3.  Does this require high system resources ?

Yes, the size of the image and the length of the trails that you are trying to create, will greatly depend on the amount of memory available to your Photoshop installation. The scripts does not load the different layer and process them incrementally. I thought long and hard before going with this design. For me it was a trade-off between having the creative freedom to rerun the scripts and see the results and subsequently apply various effects, as compared to the lower system resources.

Having the effects being applied incrementally over layers, would also mean a loss of so me creative flexibility. I might include an option for incremental saves that allows for lesser system resources in future, if there is demand.

For now, if you have limited system configuration or getting too many out of memory errors, you can always reduce the size of the initial source image. Or do check out the script from Salim  Waguila (equivalent to Creative Effects UI). He had developed a script (based on my earlier version), but has done an amazing job to utilize limited system resources.

4.  Is it really free ?

I had never taken any course in arts. It always have been some informative links, articles, online forums, intriguing conversation with fellow artists while shooting in the field  – that keeps me going. Hence am releasing this version back to the community. This will remain under Creative Commons in its current form.

5.  I understand, But can I still pay ?

I really would like to connect back, Would greatly appreciate if you can subscribe to my blog or Facebook Page. Go like a photo, comment, share your thoughts or even better share this article and scripts same with your friends [using the share buttons at the end of this article] ! But if you still insist, drop me a note and you can get me a coffee sometime !

6.  These scripts are awesome. Can I write my own ?

Oh definitely. It is real fun once u start to write scripts. It gives a lot of control and creative freedom. Below are some quick links that helped me start with the same.

7.  Can I use these for commercial purpose ?

Definitely ! Feel free to create any art, photos and timelapse, using this script – that can subsequently be used for commercial purpose. The code base itself is under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International – which means – you can download and modify the code as long as you distribute it under the same license. Don’t worry too much ! this is just to make sure any derivative scripts are available back to the community !

8.  Can I build on top of this code ?

Oh yes ! Actually I would be humbled :) This code base is available under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International . There definitely is a lot of scope to build on top of this code.  Apart from enhancing and adding effects, there is some potential to extend this to create timelapse frames. If these or if you have any more ideas, feel free to build.

You can branch out the code @ Github.

9.  Found a bug, what do I do now ?

Just squash it ;-) But if you are terrified of bugs, feel free to drop me a note or use the comment session below. In case you have any other suggestions or feedback, do reach out to me !

And one more thing …

Would love to see the final art that you create. If the script aided in any way to create an art piece, would love to see the same. Do share the results here in the comments. Have also created a group @ 500px. You could also post your final shots, ask any questions or collaborate out there @ Creative Trails Group @ 500px !

40 Responses to “Scripts to Make your Star Trails Awesome”

  1. Hi ive just got your scripts and when trying to use i get an Error pop up says Error 509: Invalid image data, Line 72. Please help thanks, leonie

    Like

  2. How do I get the Creative Trails UI to not distort the the trees and buildings.. I get some great star trails but the buildings or the trees you can no longer see what they are supposed to be.. Thank you..

    Like

    • Hi Krissy – Glad ur getting some great results …. The foreground would have to be handled in post processing. Below are the high level workflow steps that I follow … hope it helps
      Hi Scott – Glad u liked it. I do not have any detailed tutorial yet. Yes the foreground needs to be masked … below is the high level work flow ! Hope it helps !!!

      1. identify the shot that you want to process
      2. mask out the foreground – the area that u do not want to trail up
      3. run the creative star trail script to ur heartful till u like the effect
      4. run the creative star effects scripts if needed
      5. merge all the above layers
      6. bring in the original shot as a layer, and selectively mask to bring fourth the foreground
      7. Apply any final adjustments like contrast, noise reduction etc.

      Like

  3. where do i share my results to?

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  4. Love these, great work! I’m a bit confused on the creative effects UI though. Before running the script, does the open photoshop file need to have all the multiple layers from the star trail sequence? When I take a stacked startrail image created with the creative trails UI that I then merged and run the creative effects UI, it takes very little time and finishes and I see no noticeable difference. What am I doing wrong? Based on the instructions, it seems I should be able to run the creative effects script on a single layer?

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  5. I saw you have star spikes added to one of the sample images…do you use third-party extension for it or am I missing something? Thanks :)

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    • Hi Ivaylo – The star trails can be achieved by running the Creative Trails Script (on a single image where the stars are captured as a dot) mentioned in this article. The spikes were made possible by a 3rd party tool – StarSpikes Pro !

      Like

  6. Suggestions for filling gaps after running the script?

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    • @ritb12 – There was a similar question on the 500px discussion groups , u can join in out there too … https://500px.com/groups/creative-trails/344227/creative-trails-ui-creative-effects-ui

      Like capturing anything, star trails are nothing but capture of light. With the dark nights it just becomes more challenging. I think the ISO and ur sensor type plays a lot into it. I was never able to get the color stars when I was shooting with Canon Xsi. The sensor was probably not very sensitive to capture the colors.
      When I moved onto 7D, started experimenting with diff ISO combinations. Generally low ISO helps capture the colors (but obviously less stars missing the less bright ones). Shooting at high ISO 6400 more captures more stars, but misses the colors since the bright stars are overexposed and washed out …. At the end it is all a balance !
      Try shooting with low ISO , u might manage to get the colors :)
      P.S: Am sure ur shooting RAW, need to take care not to wash out the colors during post too … !

      Like

  7. Hi, using cs6 on mac last update I get error 880:

    “l’oggetto ‘tracciato 1’ non è correntemente disponibilie
    Linea 384
    ->var desc = app.executeActionGet(ref)”

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    • Hi, I resolved inserting all the file in the folder, not only the two of the scripts. Is there any tricks in Photoshop to resolve the dotted trails problem?
      Thank you

      Like

      • Hi Marco – My apologies. I had missed your comment earlier. Glad you were able to work thru the errors. Sorry have not yet got a solutions for the gaps issue as mentioned in the article. But as I had mentioned in the comment earlier , it all depends on the image. Generally the gaps are more prominent on the outer edge of the vortex. U can manually mask in those areas with a large brush. Some times the luminosity masks [http://goodlight.us/writing/luminositymasks/luminositymasks-1.html] also come in handy …

        Like

  8. scripts are very useful. Thanks alot man. But,if trail length is more than 50,i got circular shade in photo. It is looks like a chessboard. you got this problem too?

    Like

    • Hi Thiha – If you are working on a hi-res (more than 4K) image, sometimes these patterns do kick in, I think it might have to do with the noise of the images. I generally work around the same either by converting the images to 2048px on width or by using luminosity mask to select only the stars before running the script. Hope that helps !

      Like

  9. Hi guys… My name is Sung and I want to use this effect in my photoshop CC but it keeps saying that “Java Script Code was missing”.. do you know what this problem is? Please let me know… Thanks in advance

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  10. Hi Sathya… Your work really impresive, especially I interested in Vortex + Saucer Style … I have tried but cant be like your image. Do you have tutorial for this kind of startrail ? Thank you

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    • Hi Hong – Glad u like it as much. I do not have a dedicated tutorial, but you can start with the below settings …

      Creative Trails UI 2.0
      Trail Length : 40
      Center Point : (1042 , 402) –> or diff depending on ur pic
      Rotate Angle : 0.2
      Trim X : 99.1
      Trim Y : 99.9

      Creative Effects UI 2.0
      Blend Mode : SKIP
      Creative Style : Saucer Style

      Like

  11. Get the following error on PSCC

    Error 1302: No such element
    Line: 36
    -> var docRef = app.activeDocument;

    Installed the folder in iaw the instructions. Any ideas or solutions would be much appreciated

    Like

  12. hello… what folder.. I do have event and stack only scripts.. My Question I copied the files in Scripts folder (Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6 (64 Bit)\Presets\Scripts) but not working..

    Like

    • KaizerCloud – Can u be more specific when u say not working, Are u not able to find the script or is there any specific error ? Can u try invoking the script explicitly with File » Scripts » Browse ?

      Like

  13. When i try to run the Creative effects script UI on a series of 30 layers in photoshop i get a message that says “effect will be pronounced only if there is atleast 25 frames? Can anybody help?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Brian – It is just a informational message. You can continue to get the planned effect.

      P.S : Bad programming on my part, Will plan to remove the msg the there are more than 25 frames :)

      Like

  14. Hi, just wondered whether this script might be re-uploaded? Dropbox is empty

    Liked by 1 person

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