Be a Photography God: Creating Stereographic Planets

Be a Photography God: Creating Stereographic Planets

Written 13 years ago by Mark Evans

Well nearly, but who doesn’t want to be a God in their own right and create their own Little Planet? I do! Creating the Little Planet look is a fairly easy process, and not only that, they look really cool too. But before you get on your way to becoming a God, you might want to know a few things.

In the Beginning

Before we jump straight to creation, get yourself a nice panoramic image that looks like it might make a good planet (imagine it curved around so the ends are touching.) If it’s a normal panoramic, try to make sure the left and right hand edges are similar so they blend well together, otherwise a lot of Photoshop work might be needed at the end to match them. I’ve found the best images that work are 360 degree panoramics, then your edges will blend nicely. See the How to Shoot a Stitched Panorama article for tips.

The Big Bang

I’ve found there’s more than one way to create a Planet, so the first way will be the Photoshop Method.

  • Once opened, go to Image > Image Size and make sure the Constrain Proportions check box is not checked, then change the height of your image to be the same as the width to form a square. Hit Ok.
  • Once you’ve got your wierdly stretched image, turn it upside down by going to Image > Rotate Canvas > 180 degrees.
  • Now for the Planet Formation, go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates, and select Rectangular to Polar.
  • You’re done! Now if your edges were slightly different, then they may need cleaning up with the Healing Brush tool, and you might want to crop it or just play around with it to get it to how you like.

And for the PTgui Method you’ll need the latest version of PTgui and some images to stitch into a planet, just like if you were creating a stitched panoramic, see the How to Shoot a Stitched Panorama article on how to get these.

  • Load the images to be stitched together. Then when the you hit the Align Images button, the panorama editor should open, giving you a preview of your stitched panoramic image.
  • Now go to Projection > Little Planet: 300 degree Stereographic
  • Go back to your original PTgui window, and hit the Create Panorama button
  • Now you’ve got a planet with a hole in it. So what you can do is blend another picture into the middle in Photoshop, or what I did was to clone from the edges to fill the hole. Alternatively, when shooting, take a row of shots that cover the ground where your tripod is (360 degrees & make sure they overlap the first row of shots), so when you load and align images there’ll be no hole at all!
  • Thats it, crop it into a square, and tweak to your liking!

Stray World

When it comes to creating Little Planets, I would say I like PTgui the most, as it’s a very simple process and blends the edges nicely, however, you still have to fill the hole in the middle to get a nice result. The Photoshop method is probably the quickest to get a good result from, but I still prefer the look of the PTGui Little Planet better.


Lee has put together a post featuring some awesome planets for you to take inspiration from.

Link: 10 Examples of Stereographic Planets

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Subash  13 years ago

you sure can make the planet……. I did it with my own picture with photoshop. One thing confuses me though. When I did it without cropping the pic PS actually made a planet with a white background. When I cropped it the picture remained a square with no circular planet. Wonder why….?

Jared Armstrong  13 years ago

I’ve made one. It was so fun!
I much prefer PTgui than the photoshop method. Photoshop somehow gets it wrong… The trees, in mine, for example, when done with photoshop, got stretched and distorted.
Thank you so much for this tutorial!

ted @pangio  13 years ago

The flash panorama viewer KrPano is able to show any equirectangular panorama as a planet. Even simpler than doing it in photoshop.

Take a look at Panogio.com where I tried it. Just click on a spherical panorama, as for example one of my favorites http://www.panogio.com/spain/309022142 , and then on the link “little planet” below it.

Mark Evans  13 years ago

Nice little planet Jared. Ted, that is one very cool program! I’m going to have to try that one out for myself.

Jared Armstrong  13 years ago

I’m back. :) I’ve made all these now. I added a link to this tutorial.
Thanks again!

Mark Evans  13 years ago

Hey checked out your link Jared, nice work! My own efforts can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40067547@N04/3774093503/

Klaus  13 years ago

Hey, thanks for using my image here. I’m using hugin, that is like ptgui, but freeware. Works like ptgui and makes fine planet.

And I think my squared original looks better than the cropped version you use in the header. :)

Mark Evans  13 years ago

Hey Klaus, I agree the square one does look better, although all our header images have to be rectangular! You create some really nice planets, keep up the good work.


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