An After Effects tutorial showing how to use free and included effects to recreate the look inside a sc-fi nebula.
This tutorial takes a different approach to creating gas clouds in space (based from a recent rewatch of Star Trek Insurrection, where the crew venture through the Briar Patch nebula). When watching the movie, I noticed the Briar Patch was made using "fake 3D" or painted backgrounds. This approach gives you more control over the final look. Using the Turbulent Noise (or Fractal Noise if you prefer), 4-color gradient and Turbulent Displace effects, I show how to create the look of a nebula from the inside. By arranging the solids in 3D space, and using shading to help with a sense of depth, you'll see what's possible without needing particles.
I go on to demonstrate how you can use the circle effect with blending modes to create lightning or plasma bursts within the clouds.
Finally, after using VC Element to add a starship, I use the Set Matte effect to generate a cutout of the Enterprise, which I then use with CC Radial Blur to create volumetric shadows.