Photoshopping Tiny Planets.

By Ash Davies
June 13, 2009 from Graphic Design,Photo Editing,Photo Editing
tiny-planets-final tiny-planet-sydney
Jefferson Memorial
Sydney Harbor

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.


Thanks to Syko for this image. You can download it too if you’d like to try on this one.

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.

Oh Cool!

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.


Thanks to mm_leones for this one. You can Download it and try it for yourself.

tiny-planet-sydney tiny-planet-3

Thanks to hegarty_david for this. It’s a great photo and you can grab it here.


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

  • fiona

    I love it Ash!
    That’s pretty cool, I’ll try it out sometime :)

  • alexclapp

    eh these are awesome
    on the day that you showed this too me i went outside and did a tiny world of the football looks aiight. email me or something if you wanna see it?

  • mmleones

    Hi Ash,

    thanks for including my Sydney Harbour Panorama.

    It is easier to create such a “Tiny Planet” directly using panorama software (e.g. Hugin) from the original pictures instead of using Photoshop to convert the epirectangular panorama.

    Thanks for the inspiration,

  • Ash Davies


    No worries. Your Sydney panorama is excellent and was perfect to create a tiny planet. Many people have said to me that your Sydney one is their favorite. Thanks for letting me use it.

    I’ll play around with ‘Hugin’ and see what i can create. If it’s good then i might offer it as an alternative.


    Ash Davies

  • hegarty_david

    Thanks for the credit for the photo.

    I have plenty more 360 degree panoramas for people to play with
    and i made a few planets myself

  • Ash Davies

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Your tiny planets look fantastic, and i’ll pop a link to your 360 panoramas set in the main post so people can play around with them.

  • Ash Davies

    Done. Take a look at the end of Step 1

  • Sky

    Hey there,

    I’m glad you like my photo from the Jefferson Memorial. Thanks for giving credit. But in the future, it would be nice if you asked before editing and re-posting other people’s images on your site. All it takes is a quick message on flickr!


    ps: it’s skyo, not syko

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  • Hendrik

    Thanks for this great tutorial!
    Like you I was totally impressed and had no idea that tiny planets are so easy to create.

  • Elemirocks

    This was really cool

  • jasonm23github

    I hope someone found this…

  • Megaloman

    Thank you for this great tutorial ! :)
    If you are interested by Tiny planets in videos, maybe you will like this one :

  • Dr.John

    I use this app Tiny planet Fx . Tiny app but useful app