Have you seen small planets in some video games or photography and wonder how they did that? Well today I’ll be showing you how to achieve a couple of those techniques that you need to know in order to do your own little planets. We will need to follow a couple of instructions before we take the picture. We need around 120 pictures in order to create a panoramic. A tripod would be very handy and a digital camera with manual control and lots of energy, so let‘s begin!
- Program: Adobe Photoshop
- Difficulty: Advanced
- Estimated Completion Time: 1-2 hours
- A digital SLR camera (I’ll be using a Cannon T2i)
- You can use any lens but I’ll be using an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
- A tripod for your camera
- Adobe Photoshop I’ll be using CS5
Step 1. Look for an ideal location
In order to take our picture we need to choose the right setting, think about the final result and remember that this picture will be a panoramic first and then we will be editing in order to convert into our little planet. Comfort is important because we need a place where we can set up our tripod and rotate the camera in 360 degrees and take around 120 pictures. So think about a cool location and get ready to take your panoramic. (A public park or lake would probably be perfect for this exercise)
Step 2. Getting ready to take the pictures
Once you know where to take the picture, set your camera low to the ground. Before you take your first shots I recommend you set your camera settings on manual mode, and then make sure the size of the pictures is not the highest quality. Remember we are going to shoot around 120 pictures and those pictures will become one picture. In case you want to take your pictures in the highest resolution please be aware that your computer will slow down and may crash when we edit the pictures in Photoshop. Around 5 or 8 megapixels is fine.
Step 3.Shooting the picture
Now take a picture then rotate your camera to the right, making sure your next shot has around 20 or 30% of the image of the last picture (that is necessary to do because Photoshop needs to know which pictures are connected). Keep taking pictures until you completely rotate the camera 360 degrees. After that, slide your camera up a little (DO NOT MOVE THE TRIPOD) and again make sure your shot has 20 or 30% of the last shot. You’ll have to repeat this step around 7 times. Please make sure you take pictures of the ground and the sky with the same technique. Don’t get dizzy.
Step 4. Let’s transfer the images
Step 5. Resize Pictures
In this step we are going to resize our pictures. This is a very important step because it helps your computer work faster in the following steps. As I mentioned before you have the option to take small pictures and that will help, however, if you didn’t you really want to do this step. First make sure to put all your images in a separate folder. Then create a new folder and call it “resize pictures” Then in order to resize maybe more than 100 pictures in a fast way we will be using some cool functions in Photoshop.
- Open Photoshop then open the first picture of your panoramic from your original pictures
- Then Go to “Window” and select “Actions”
- After that, “Create a new action” and call it resize and press “Record”.
- Then go to the menu “Image” then look for the “Image size” option and click
- Next resize your picture to 640×480 and save it in the folder that we called resize.
Then open the second picture and go to file look for “Automate” then click“Batch” look for the action that we called resize then select the folder source that is the folder that contains our original pictures. Finally choose the destination folder which we called resize and then click “OK”.
Now just wait a little until Photoshop resizes everything.
Step 6. Merging the panoramic
Next, open Photoshop. Make sure you know where in your hard drive your pictures are.
- Go to the menu and select: file,
- then look for Automate and
- Finally photomerge.
The photomerge window will show and what we need to do is look for the pictures in our hard drive. So select: Browser. Once you find the pictures select the first picture of your sequence, press: shift and scroll down and select the last picture. Press open. Finally press ok and Photoshop will take some time to put together all the pictures so please be patient and wait.
Step 7. Editing the picture
After we merge the photos we are looking at the panoramic we will be using in order to do our little planet picture. In this step we will be editing our panoramic so if you take a look in Photoshop the software just put the pictures we took in different layers. This is the step where you should decide whether you are happy with the result that Photoshop has done for you. If you are not happy then you would have to edit layer by layer before we merge all the layers into one. In my case I would like to work a little in the sky, so I’ll be using the clone tool in order to make the sky smoother. I recommend using this technique in case you want to change or modify some imperfections that you want to fix.
- Click on the clone tool.
- Then look for a little section of pixels that you’d like to clone by pressingALT+Click
Then click under the part you’d like to change. Make sure of your reference often by clicking alt-option.
Step 8.Merge the panorama
Next step is an easy one. Once you finish editing your picture now its time to merge the picture.
- Select all the layers
- Then right click and choose “Merge select layers”
Step 9. Cropping our image
You might see some extra pixels in the panoramic so what we need to do is crop our image into a rectangle.
- So go and click on the crop tool.
- Then drag a rectangle and try to leave as many pixels as you can.
- Then just double click on the selection and now your image will be a perfect square.
Step 10. Make your panoramic a perfect loop
Now, we want to make sure the right and left side of the picture perfectly match.
- Select the image layer then go and click filter and select the other.
- Then move the horizontal menu to -500 and click ok. You will see a line in your picture so we need to fix that.
Step 11. Editing the picture
Duplicate your image layer then create a new layer on top of the picture. With the selection tool copy the part of the image that has a line across then paste that into the new layer and move the image until the image matches with the layer which is below. You’ll now have extra pixels in your second layer so go and delete them. Once again you’ll have to crop and merge the layers.
Step 12. Making our image a square
We are almost done! What we need to do now is select our panorama and make it a perfect square. So go and select your layer then go to the menu >image. Then select image size and change the width to the same value as the height.
Step 13. Finishing Touches
Don’t be scared by the result of the width change. We will get there pretty soon. What we need to do next is to flip our image so we can apply the filter.
- So go to the menu Image
- Select image rotation
- Then select 180 degrees
Step 14. Let’s make our little planet!
Now it’s time to do the magic and create our little planet. So go and select the image then:
- Select Distort > Polar Coordinates.
- In the polar coordinates window make sure you select a rectangular to polarand click ok. Done!!
Step 15. Color correction
This is an optional step. Now that we have our little planet it’s time to make some decisions. I would like to point out a couple of options. If you’d like to make your planet bigger or smaller you’ll need to adjust the ground accordingly. In my case I’ll make it bigger. So I’ll just press control Z and change my ground a little.
Step 16. Layer Masks
It’s time to get fancy and show all our Photoshop skills. Now that we have a little planet you may notice that one of the sides of the pictures is a little darker and the other is brighter. In case you want to adjust this I would recommend making some copies of the layers. Then select the darker side and apply some masks and then some curves, brightness & contrast, Etc. Make it look good!! Interesting effect!
That’s all! Thanks for reading, and I hope you like this technique!