How to Create a Moon in Photoshop

With Halloween right around the corner, I can envision all of the upcoming scrapbook pages featuring adorable children in cute costumes!  Many of those photos will be taken at sundown, or in the darkness of the evening.  Why not include a bright moon as one of the elements on your page to add a little interest and light?  Let’s take a look at how to create one!

This tutorial is for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements users. I am using Photoshop CC2015.5 for screen shots.  This is an advanced tutorial, and assumes you know the basics of layers.

  • Create a new blank document. File > New > 3600 x 3600 px; 300 dpi  (Or whatever size you would like, considering the size you want you moon to be. I want a large moon so am choosing a large sized blank document.)
  • Fill the blank document with Black
  • Change the Foreground Color to White and the Background Color to Black
  • Add a New Fill layer and select Gradient.


  • When the Gradient Fill box opens, click on the down-pointing area in the Style’s option. Change the Style to Radial. Click OK.


  • Create a new blank layer. Select the Ellipse Tool. Hold down Shift to draw a circle. Fill it with white. (If your circle isn’t exactly in the middle of the document, select the Move Tool and move it into position.)  Control + D to deselect.


  • Click on FX at the bottom of the layers panel and click on Outer Glow.  Adjust the Outer Glow Structure until the glow on your moon looks good to you. (Experiment with Opacity, Spread, and Size, especially.)   (Photoshop 101: Outer Glow)  These are the setting I used for my moon, which is on a 3600 x 3600 px document.


  • Hold down the Control key and click on the icon on the layer which contains your moon, to select the moon shape.
  • Create a new blank layer
  • Confirm that your Foreground color is Black and your Background color is White
  • Go to the top Menu bar. Filter > Render > Clouds
  • Click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and Select Blending Options
  • In the Layer Style box, select Color Overlay and change the color to White in the Color options box. Change the Blend Mode to Linear Dodge, and experiment with the Opacity.  I have mine set to 19% for my size moon and taste.


  • Hit Control + D to deselect the moon shape.

Depending upon the size of your moon, this might be all you need to do.  For a smaller moon, this procedure will produce a very nice result.

If you’ve created a large moon, such as I have, let’s do a few more things to make it look more realistic.

  • Right click on the Filter / Clouds layer. Choose Rasterize Layer Style
  • Go to the Top Menu Bar:  Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius slider until you are satisfied with the look of your moon. I set my Radius to 81 Pixels for my sized image. Click OK

Here is my result:


  • Make the first black layer invisible. Merge the remaining 3 layers, and you have a moon element that you can use on any page you like.

I used this technique to create one of the papers in my newest collection, Trick or Treat.


If you would like to download this tutorial in PDF format, you may do so here:  How to Create a Moon in Photoshop

Be sure to visit my New Release blog post, where you can pick up the Trick or Treat FREEBIE pictured below!

Trick or Treat SnickerdoodleDesigns


PSE USERS:  Thanks to Peggy S for her addition to this post.  This is how she modified this tutorial for PSE users:

I used your directions, but PSE doesn’t have blend modes in the layer effects, so you have to do it after you get out of layer effects. I found pin light worked best for what I wanted. Then I did the Gaussian blur on the spots and put a layer mask on to remove some of the spots. The rest is as you describe it.


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Comments (6)

  1. […] How to Create a Moon in Photoshop – 1 freebie(s)? […]

    October 22, 2016 at 7:57 am
  2. Su Hall

    Now, that is a nice moon! Thank you, ma’am!

    October 22, 2016 at 8:48 am
  3. Peggy S

    Fun! I just did a moon! Just so you know, PSE 14 at least, does have render clouds. I used a pin blend on the layer so there weren’t so many, then the gaussian blur. I also used a mask over the layer to reduce the number of dark blotches. It turned out great! It is so fun to learn how to do things from scratch.

    October 22, 2016 at 11:49 am
  4. Linda Franks

    Now I needed this and I wouldn’t have had to extract it in Trick or Treat!!!

    October 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm
    • Karen

      🙂 But you did such a good job!!!!!

      October 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm
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