Tiny Planets from Panoramic photos


Active Member
Sep 22, 2007
Melbourne, Australia
Firstly, this is a guide i wrote for my website.
You can find the original guide here at
If you do make one of these tiny planets, would you be able to post it in the comments on the website?
I'm just trying to keep the content flowing :)

Anyway. Here goes....


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Oh Cool!
It's all finished. Here's what I ended up with.



It can be tricky to find right photo so, for you to play around with, i've got two photos from flickr which worked very well for me.
You can try mm_leones beautiful sydney panorama (you'll need to put step 2 into place here, increase the canvas size and extend the bottom of the photo) as well as hegarty_david's great landscape panorama.

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 here or in the comments on http://www.photoguides.net/photoshopping-tiny-planets

Good luck :)
+rep. I'll have to try this one I find a usable photo. But IMO I don't think they quite work as well with dark photos.
I just tried this with the original photo just to test the technique and it worked perfectly. Now I just need to see if I have any suitable photos. Probably not, so I'll have to take one. :)
Looks like I did have a suitable photo, but had to mirror it for it to work. I'm pleased with it though, not least because it looks like grass bewbs.