Digital Marble – Polar Coordinate Filter and Planets

How to turn a photo into a ‘Planet’ in Photoshop Elements with the Polar Coordinate Filter:

Start with a true panoramic image that is much longer than it is high. The subject matter (buildings, trees) should be at least a third of the photo. (This photo was taken at Fort Zion, Utah. The buildings are at the Virgin Trading Post.)

Examples of good images: City scapes with skyscrapers; night or sunset pictures.

1. Turn your image into a square. Go to the menu ImageResizeImage Size. Uncheck the ‘Constrain Proportions’ option. (You might have to check Resample Image first.) Change the height and the width of the image to match each other. Eg. 1000px by 1000px.

2. Flip your image 180 degrees. Use the menu items Image Rotate –  180.

3. Add the Polar Coordinate effect. Use the menu items Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar’ – OK

This creates the Planet. You will notice a seam line from where the image has been joined. To remove this select the Spot Healing Brush and airbrush the seam out.

The ‘planet’ can be cropped into a circle and placed onto a solid background if you want it to have a more planet shape!

Digital Marble – Cotoneaster Leaves – The Polar Coordinate Filter

Photo manipulating programs have a polar coordinate filter that can turn a photo into a circular shape that is reminiscent of a fortune teller’s orb or marble. They are also commonly called Amazing Circles. I recently found a post by Russel Ray with full directions and illustrations for how to create An orb in Photoshop.

I’m very excited with my marble photos, though I will soon have so many of them that I expect the novelty will wear off – for you. I don’t think I will tire of it soon because each one is so unpredictable. I never know what will be inside the marble photo until it is complete! Here are the directions for making these using one purchased program and one freeware program.

1. Photoshop Elements 10:

a. Open your picture in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop and enhance it as desired. I usually adjust the lighting levels and sharpen.

b. Crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1 (photo above)

c. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Polar to Rectangular – OK (photo above)

d. Click on Image – Rotate – Flip Vertical (photo above)

e. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar – OK. Then I opened FastStone Image Viewer to add borders and text, and also t0 resize it to fit my blog. This finished marble is 778X778 pixels.   (photo above)

2. GIMP: is a freely distributed program. The technique for making Amazing Circles is similar to above.

a. Enhance the photo as desired.
b. Choose the Crop Tool (looks like a knife, sort of). Select a Fixed Aspect ratio of 1:1 and select the area you want to use.
c. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates. Uncheck the “To Polar” button.
d. From the menu bar, choose Image- Transform- Flip Vertically.
e. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates again. Check the “To Polar” button.
f. The resulting circle may not have the background color you desire. Use the Color Picker Tool to select a color from the image. Then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the background.

This isn’t a new technique. It has been around for a few years. Click on this link to see a large number of Amazing Circles that have been submitted to flickr.