Create Your Own Planet

How to Create Your Own Planets Using Your Panoramas

This tutorial will show you how to take a a panoramic (or landscape) photo and use the Polar Coordinates filter of Photoshop CS to create a circular image that seems to wrap the panorama around a planet. The finished image will look similar to the images above. Looks cool, and it’s easy to do! Let’s get started.

SELECTING A SOURCE PHOTO FOR YOUR PLANET

When selecting a photo to start with you should keep the following things in mind:

Panoramas or landscapes cropped to have an aspect ratio at least 2:1 (the width should be at least two times the height) work best. Wider photos are better. 360 degree pano’s are ideal.
The bottom area (bottom 25% or so) of your photo should have very little detail (e.g. sand, asphalt, water). This area will become the center of your planet and will be distorted the most.
The upper area (upper 25%) of your photo should also be light on detail– preferably just one color (e.g. blue sky, night sky etc.)
The left and the right edges of your photo should match, or come close to matching, each other.
The horizon must be level since the left and right edges of your photo will be joined.

STEP 1: RESIZE AND ROTATE

The first thing we need to do is prepare the image for the Polar filter. We do this by stretching the height of the image so that the image is a perfect square.

Select Image>Image Size from the menus. Uncheck ‘Constrain Proporties’ and set the “height” to the same value as your “width”. Next, rotate the image 180 degrees. (Image>Image Rotation>180)

STEP 2: APPLY THE POLAR FILTER

Next, we’ll apply the Polar Filter to wrap our image into a sphere.

Choose Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates from the menus and in the resulting dialog box, select the “Rectangular to Polar” setting.

STEP 3: ROTATE AND CLEAN UP

The rest is just a little digital darkroom work: Rotate the planet to your liking, adjust the contrast and colors, clean up the sky and the edges where the left and right border of the image came together. (The clone stamp and healing brush may be handy here.) That’s it, we’re done!

Have Fun!