photoshop creative

Create a panosphere

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 28, 2015

Composite a skyline, turn it into a planet, and discover new worlds of possibility in Photoshop!


1. Open your start image


Open the start image, which is going to be the guideline for you to build your skyline onto. We need a cloudless sky for this picture so the clouds won’t be distorted, and the green space will just help visually when placing icons and landmarks.

2. Halve Manhattan


Our first landmark is going to be a picture of Manhattan. Place it onto your picture and rasterise the layer. Now select half of it and Ctrl/ right-click; choose Layer Via Cut. Move the right-hand side of the city to the far-left of the picture, and the left side over to the right.

3. Mask out the sky


Now we’ve halved the city, use Select>Colour Range to locate the blue (use the Magic Wand in Elements, contiguous unchecked), and use a Lasso to tidy up, before clicking the Mask button.

4. Insert the Eiffel Tower


The Eiffel Tower is such a striking, world-famous landmark that it’s a great addition to our picture and adds a nice bit of height. Using an iconic building can be a great idea, so we’re going to place it right of the centre where the action’s going to be happening. Mask out the sky.

5. Add a coast


Let’s focus on the opposite side now and blend the river into the town. We’re going to add the beach slightly below the horizon and mask out the sky, as we did with the other pictures. We’re not aiming for a realistic skyline, but you can create one if you want.

6. Bring in more beach


Add the picture of the deck chairs next to the beach and then again mask out the sky. Don’t worry about the green space below this composition yet; just try and position the beach nicely onto the picture for now.

7. Start blending the beach


Use a soft brush on the masks of these two layers to blend the beach into the picture. Clone the sand texture from the deck chair picture onto the palm tree picture’s layer, and make it look a bit cleaner.

8. Add the lake


Now add the lake in front of the Eiffel Tower to prepare for the next steps. Maybe tidy your layers now; you might want to place one half of Manhattan above the lake, and the other half below the lake, for example. Split layers with Layer Via Cut.

9. Place a waterfall


Place the waterfall over the edge of the river so that it falls into the lake. If you align it as we have, the lake should level with the beach. Try to get the width of the waterfall covering the width of the river, ready to blend in a minute.

10. Blend water


Again, use masking to merge your last layer with the picture. Add the other waterfall picture into the lake and mask so that the stream flows cleanly. Even add a new layer, and with a soft, white brush, paint around the base of the waterfall for spray.

11. Blend the lake and the beach


Now we’re going to blend the lake in with the beach. Use soft brushes on the mask layer to show more of the beach over the rocky edges of the lake, and harder brushes to reveal more or less of the rocks situated behind.

12. Add mountains


Add the mountain images. These are good for the background, as they fill the composition and give added depth. While you’re at it, add another layer, set to Color and gently brush over the river in blue to keep the various layers the same colour.

13. Bring in the valleys


Let’s deal with that green block at the bottom. Paste the valley picture over the image, halve it and place it over the corners, as with Manhattan. Paste it again and go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Mask the edges, and you’ll have a seamless panorama like this.

14. Blend in again


Merge the valley layers together and blend them into the picture as you have done with everything else, using masking and maybe the Clone tool. Soften harsh edges between the grass and the pasted images for a more natural look.

15. Duplicate, crop and resize


Press Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E to create a screenshot, Ctrl/right-click and duplicate to a new layer. Crop the image to get rid of excess grass and sky, then press the Constrain Aspect Ratio symbol and resize so the width is the same as the height.

16. Distort


Here comes the magical part: rotate the image 180 degrees from Edit>Transform and head to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. Check Rectangular to Polar and click OK. This will join up the edges of your skyline into a sphere. Rotate again to keep the waterfall and Eiffel Tower at the top of the image.

17. Touch up and finish


Now add your finishing touches. Clone over the seam of the image – which shouldn’t take much effort, thanks to your earlier editing – and add the clouds and plane. Duplicate the plane layer, set to 50% Opacity and add a Path Blur (Motion Blur in Elements) for some added effect.