The first time I saw a Tiny Planet it amazed me. It was one of the coolest things I’d seen. I figured though that creating one of these would take hours of Photoshop rendering of the highest level.
But it doesn’t. It takes less than a minute!
All you need is a panoramic photo and Photoshop, and the most basic of understandings.
Here then is a guide to help you make Tiny Planets of your very own.
Step 1: Is my photo ok?
Yes, I’m sure it’s lovely. But it might not be right for making a tiny planet. The first thing you’ll need is of course a wide panorama. Two shots stuck together though won’t do it. You’ll get great results with a whole 360 degree panorama but these are hard to take or find.
I’m using this 180 degree panorama taken by Syko. I found it on flickr and you can have a look for one yourself. I’m using this photo because it’s wide, it’s simple and has beautiful colours, but above all it’s balanced and the horizon is pretty much central in the image.
hegarty_david from flickr has also offered his 360 degrees panoramas to be used and most of them will work quite nicely.
Step 2: But what if it isn’t perfect?
If it is perfect, well done. You can go to step 3.
To ensure you get the best results, the horizon in your image will need to be either on or slightly above the centerline. Everything below the centerline will be stretched to form your round planet, so by moving your buildings or main subject above the center they will appear to be sitting on the planet, rather than warped to the middle.
To fix it there are two simple things you can do. The easier option is to crop a bit of the sky out of the image. If you know more than the basics though, you can go into the Image menu, select ‘canvas size’, and then increase the height slightly. Once this is done you can move the image to the top of the frame, select part of the bottom of the image, enter transform move (Ctrl+T) and then stretch the selection to the bottom of the canvas.
You can either crop out some of the sky or stretch the bottom of the image.
Step 3: Let’s start by making it a square.
To do this go into ‘Image Size’. You can find this under the ‘Image’ menu, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+I (command for Mac users). You’ll then need to deselect ‘Constrain Proportions’ and change the width and height to the same number.
You’ll then end up with a nice square.
You’ll end up with a nice square.
Step 4: Turn it around.
This is a simple but important step. If you don’t turn your image then your tiny planet will have the sky in the middle and all your land on the outside.
To flip it, just go into the ‘Image’ menu, ‘Rotate Canvas’ and select ’180′
Step 5: Polar Coordinates.
Just click on Filters, Distort and then Polar Coordinates. It will open up a menu.
Click on it.
Step 6: Click Ok.
There are no options or settings you need to fiddle with. Simple enough.
Step 7: Rotate.
This may not be a necessary step.
Rotating some images will just make them look better. With my image for instance, it would look much better if the building was on the top. Thus, I will rotate it 90 degrees clockwise.
Most images I find turn out better with 180 degrees rotation.
For this image, I chose 90 to bring the building to the top.
It’s all finished. Here’s what I ended up with.
Thanks again to Syko for the original Image. I think it’s turned out nicely.
Here are a few more I’ve made, with their original photos.
I really like the clouds in this one.
So that’s how you make a Tiny Planet. After you do it once or twice, it’s a process that takes less than a minute.
Feel free to share your own creations in the comments
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