This started with Red Nebula
. I played around with it trying to take it further and see what else I could make of it. An exercise of technique, basically. These are some results.
The top 2 are just different in color, no stars. I left them like that so that you can see and study the details. You might notice some fractal action at the top right of the nebula. The original was pretty red, so this was some experimentation with a different color palette.
At the bottom, you can see a finished product with stars.
How was this made? Hmm, an assload of layers, lots of brushing, and lots of smudging with textured brushes.
You might notice that they are a bit noisy (texture). I added that on purpose. Adding some noise will make them look more like telescope photographs and get rid of a hell of a lot of the CG-look that often times makes them look fake. Remember, I was trying to go for photographic realism here.