Tiny Planets From Scratch

DSCF2281-2-tinyplanet-colour-3x2Would you like to learn the secret art of making tiny planets? They are magical and enchanting. Click through to find out how to create your own tiny planet in Photoshop in just 6 simple steps :) It’s easy peasy and very addictive hehe.



I have become quite obsessed with tiny planets recently, I think they look super funky! The distortion in the resulting image helps convey the idea of a cozy private world, in which anything is possible and the sky is the only limit! :)

Opera House Tiny Planet
Opera House Tiny Planet


New Zealand Tiny Planet
New Zealand Tiny Planet


Blue Mosque, Istanbul Tiny Planet
Blue Mosque, Istanbul Tiny Planet

Today I am going to teach you how to make a tiny planet, and some tips and tricks that I find really useful in the process. I use Photoshop CC to create my tiny planets but I suspect you will be able to use other software too, even my Nexus 5 phone can create them (called panospheres)!

1) Choose an image to start.

The first step is an easy one: choose the image you want to turn into a tiny planet. The best candidates will be images of landscapes, in which both sides left and right are quite similar (so that when the distortion occurs they mostly match). The process of making a tiny planet is very destructive for the pixels of your image, so the larger the image you start with the better (preferably panoramas that have been stitched together from multiple images).

That being said, none of my tiny planets have been make form a large stitched pano haha. I lean towards simple minimalistic designs, and I am ok to sacrifice the number of pixels (I’ll just print it smaller). I am currently working on a tiny planet photobook (which will be available for purchase through Blurb in the near future). I have selected the small square format (7×7 inches, i.e. 18×18 cm) and all my tiny planets have enough resolution to be printed full page (except 2).

For this tutorial I will show you how I worked with the following image that I took of the Sydney Opera House last weekend:


2) Resize the image into a square (1:1 aspect ratio).

Once I’ve chosen my image I need to resize it into a square (1:1 aspect ratio). The image will end up squished but that is ok, it will all work out later. To do this I open the image in Phoshop and go to the menu “Image”, then “Image Size” (Alt + Ctrl + I). Once you’re in there make sure you click on the aspect ratio toggle to make the aspect ratio unconstrained. Then copy the number of pixels in “Width” and paste it into “Height”. You could also do it the other way around, as long as you end up with the same number in both fields. I like choosing the larger number, even though that will mean the pixels will get stretched, so my final image will be larger. You could also crop the image into a square, but then you would loose precious valuable pixels. (Click on the explanatory image below to see a larger version of it.)


Here is the result of resizing the image:1

3) Rotate the image 180 degrees.

Once I have the image in a square I rotate it 180 degrees. To do that in Photoshop use the transformation tool (“Edit” menu, then “Free Transform” or Ctrl + T). If you don’t rotate the image your tiny planet will come up inside out like the one below, which can also be nice if it’s what you’re looking for :)

Inside Out Tiny Planet, ie. Tiny Window
Inside Out Tiny Planet, ie. Tiny Window

4) Perform the Tiny Planet MAGIC!

Now comes the actualy tiny planet making, the key to the process, the well guarded secret of tiny planeting, the MAGIC! What you have to do is this: go to the in Photoshop menu “Filter”, then select “Distort”, then “Polar Coordinates”, and in the pop up window that appears make sure that you select “Rectangular to Polar” (should be the default one if I remember correctly). Voila! That’s it! Done! You’ve got yourself a tiny planet, congratulations! :) (Click on the explanatory image below to see a larger version of it.)


5) Rotate the tiny planet to your liking.

From now on the rest is just touching up the tiny planet. For starters, it looks upside down so I will invert the image 180 degrees again. This is how it results:

6) Beautify the tiny planet.

In order to improve this tiny planet I fixed the seam and blurred the centre. I also redid the tiny planet a little bit different, with a smaller centre and a larger Opera House. Stay tuned on this blog for a future post on mastering tiny planets with more tips and tricks. I will walk you through the rest of my editing process of this image to achieve the following final result:

Snail House Tiny Planet
Snail House Tiny Planet

I hope you fall as much in love with tiny planets as I have :) If you would like to see more of my work check them out here. I would love to see your tiny planets too, share them with me on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or Instagram. I am all over the place! hehehe. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog to be the first to know when I publish the next post :)

Last, but not least, I would like to aknowledge my friend Rodney Campbell, a Sydney based photographer. It is thanks to him that I created my first tiny planet, following the tutorial he posted on his blog. Cheers mate!! (hehehe I feel so Aussie writing that!)

Thank you for reading!!

xx Ana :)


6 thoughts on “Tiny Planets From Scratch

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