A step-by-step guide to creating your own little world using the Polar Coordinates Filter in Photoshop

by Natalia Medd (iPhotography Student)

I always liked those round creations which look like your own little world, and wanted to try to make one. I finally did. Here is a step-by-step quide of how I made it, using the Polar Coordinates filter in Photoshop.

First, we will need to choose the image to work with. Ideally it is supposed to be a 360 panoramic shot, but it is not absolutely necessary. The trick is to get the edges of your image to match perfectly when they are connected in the end.

You can make two types of images using this technique: your own little world/planet, or an “inside out” version which can look like a portal or tunnel.

Create your own little world using photoshop

Part I

1. Let’s start with the first version of little planet. I had a panoramic shot which I made using the panorama setting on my cell phone. It looked like this:

To get our little planet we will have to flip the image upside down. To do so go: Image>Image Rotation>Flip Canvas Vertical
Now we have an upside down image. Next, we will need to resize our image and make it square. Go to: Image>Image size and set for width the same number your height is. Just copy and paste it. Remember to uncheck “Constrain Proportions”:
Click ok, and now we have a square upside down image.

It does not look too impressive, but we have one more step to do. Go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates.

Choose Rectangular to Polar:

Click Ok.

Now rotate and crop the image as you like. That’s it! We have our planet!

Part II

2. With the second “inside out” version of the little world, we will not need to flip our picture upside down. All other steps are the same.

It is great to have a panorama to work with, but it is not necessary. You can turn pretty much anything into a round creation. For the image of a “portal”, I had a picture of a boy sitting on the beach.

Although it is not a panoramic shot, I thought it could look interesting. To make a seamless connection and a wider image, I just mirrored the picture. When you do this your edges will match perfectly and you do not need to worry about it. Sort of a lazy version: I created a new file twice wider than the original. Then I copied the original image (Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C) and passed it twice (Ctrl+V) to the new file. Now we have two identical layers. Next I moved Layer 1 to the left and Layer 2 to the right side of canvas.
Then select Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal to flip Layer 2.

I did not want two boys in my picture, so I removed one using the Stamp tool in Photoshop.

Now we can flatten our image. Go to Layers>Flatten Image
Next, we need to resize the image, and make it square. Go to Image>Image size, uncheck “Constrain Proportions” and make the width of your picture the same your height is.

Click ok, and now we have the square picture. Almost done.

We do not need to turn the image upside down in this case, just go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates:
Choose Rectangular to Polar:

Click Ok.

Look at that – We’ve got our little world portal! All we have to do now is rotate and crop. For example, this way:

Last thing we do – some finishing touches.

I played a little bit with levels, hue/saturation and color balance to get the color I wanted and something that looks like a sun in the center of the image.

This version is what I have in the end, Centre of the Universe!

We hope you will all join us in saying a very special thankyou to Natalia for sharing her knowledge, time and imagery of her own little world with everyone – keep up the great work Natalia!

The iPhotoshop Team

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