Five Minute Photoshop Tutorials - Mini-Planet

In Photoshop you can do a lot of things that look like impossible magic that are really quite easy, well, maybe not 1-mouseclick easy but if that were the case all the magic would be lost.

Making a Mini-Planet is about as good as it can get for ease of creation to the great payoff in results, all because of one seldom used secret filter
that makes all the magic possible.  Let's dive in, shall we?

First, here is the original image used. Click for larger image:

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 1: Creating a horizontal ruler guide to align the horizon.

Step 1: In order for the 'Planetization' to take effect correctly, we have to set up the scene by making Rulers visible (CTRL/CMD +R), then Left Click and Drag from the top horizontal ruler to near the center of the image closest to the water line in the picture to create Guide.  If the Guide does not show at first, press CTRL +; to turn on Guide visibility or alternately look in the VIEW MENU under Show>Guides.

With the Guide visible, we can see that the picture is not even across the horizon.  If we tried to 'Planetize' the picture now, it would have the horizon wrapping partially into the sky and not make a perfect circle and killing the effect.

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 2: Free Transform Rotating the top Layer Image to match the Guide.

Step 2: To correct the horizon problem first Duplicate the layer by first selecting it in the right toolbar Layers Panel and Drag it to the New Layer Icon at the bottom of the Layers Tab, second from the right next to the Trash Can Icon. Alternatively Right Click the Layer and select: Duplicate Layer... then click OK at the prompt.

Next we need to rotate the top most Layer to match the horizon Guide we made in Step 1.  So to Free Transform press CTRL + T and hover your mouse just outside any of the Anchor Points on the image until you see a dual arrow in a semi-circular line like a U shape, then click and drag to rotate until the water line in the picture is even with the light blue Guide line.  You can also click and drag the picture to better center it in the frame as well. Click the ENTER key to complete the effect.

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 3: Inverting the image to prepare for 'Planetization'.

 Step 3: The magic button to make our panorama into a planet only works in one direction, so if we 'Planetize'  right now the whole thing will be inverted with buildings pointing inward with the water on the outside, which is not what we want. So, click on the Image Menu and select Image Rotation and click on 180.  Now both layers should be rotated upside down as shown in Figure 3.  Now right click on the top most Layer in the Layer Palette and select Merge Down to combine both layers into 1.

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 4: Using the Polar Coordinates Command to warp the image end to end..

Step 4: OK, moment of truth time!  Now for the Magic Command.. Polar Coordinates!  Just go to the Filter Menu and go under Distort and click on Polar Coordinates...  A Dialog box will pop up asking if you want to you Polar to Rectangular or Rectangular to Polar. Choose Rectangular to Polar and click OK. Now you should have your very own Photoshop Mini-Planet, except with a couple of cleanup issues that can be simply addressed.

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 5: Cloning out and Masking over imperfections.

Step 5: There is a quick way to get rid of hard lines in an otherwise uncluttered area and that is with the Clone Tool.  To use the Clone Tool effectively, first create a new blank Layer above the Mini-Planet Layer by clicking the New Layer Button at the bottom of the Layer Palette OR Hold down SHIFT + CTRL + N then hit ENTER.

Next choose the Clone Tool from the Tools Palette on the Left.  Make sure that you choose the Sample: All Layers from the top Menu Bar and Choose a low opacity before you begin. You can right click on the screen to bring up your Brush Properties and then select a very soft (()% Hardness) Brush that is a large diameter to cover imperfections.  Hold down the ALT key and select an area of the canvass that matches the area you wish it to cover up and use a few strokes to cover over the line created by the two sides of the picture coming together.

If you go over an area and want to bring back the detail, don't grab for the Eraser, use a Mask instead! First make sure that the upper layer is selected and then click the Add Mask Button located at the bottom of the Layers Palette (circled in red) that looks like a grey square with a white circle in it.  Now select the Paint Brush from the Tools Menu on the left and notice that when the Mask is selected, you only have greyscale colors available. While painting with the Mask selected, White reveals the picture while Black 'Masks' what you have done and reveals the Layer below.  If you wish to clone or paint more on the Layer, make sure you select the picture in the Layers Palette and not the Mask by clicking on it once.

5 Minute Photoshop Tutorial Mini-Planet - Figure 6: Inverse Selection Process to Gaussian Blur out Artifact Compression in the clouds.
Step 6: Cloud Smoothing.  So now we have this issue with the atmosphere where the warp has caused a lot of compression and stretching making for some unsavory lines around our pretty Mini-Planet. Several ways to remedy this, but the quickest is to first, Select the bottom Layer in the Layer Palette then choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool.  Select by dragging from the top left corner of the buildings' edge and across to encompass the entire Mini-Planet (See figure 6).  Next hold down SHIFT + CTRL + I to Invert your selection so now you have all of the atmosphere selected and not the Mini-Planet.

Next go to the Filter Menu and select Blur>Gaussian Blur..  This will bring up a dialog box (See figure 6) and then check the box next to Preview to make sure you can see a live update of the filter at work.  Now use the slide control to find a good amount of blur to add that will smooth out all of the jagged lines. Click OK to accept.

Click for larger image.

And there you have it, your very own Photoshop Mini-Planet!  Feel free to add text as a logo or for wallpaper or whatever!

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