Creating an orb in Photoshop

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I use Photoshop CS6 for most of my photo editing work — adding contrast, sharpening, correcting exposure, bringing back highlights, cropping, and so much more.

Once I finish editing, though, it’s fun to find out what other things Photoshop can do.

To me, Photoshop filters are the most fun, and recently I learned how to create an interesting orb, like this:

Flower orb

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not everything makes a good orb. The more little things in the picture, the better looking the orb will be.

Here’s how to do it, step by step.

Open your picture and crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1. Click on the crop icon. In your crop options bar, it probably says “Ratio.” Click on that and change it to 1:1 (Square). Your crop marks will move to the center of the image to create a square from your picture. You can move the crop area around if you want it somewhere else. (Click on the image below for a larger image.)

Crop in Photoshop CS6

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next, click on Filter ► Distort ► Polar Coordinates…. ► Polar to Rectangular ► Okay

My flower now looks like this:

Photoshop distort polar coordinates

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That creates an interesting item in and of itself, but we’re going to go further.

Now click on Image ► Image Rotation ► Flip Canvas Vertical. That gives me this:

Photoshop Flip Canvast Verticle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Again, you could stop there and have something interesting. We’re still going further, though!

Click on Filter ► Distort ► Polar Coordinates…. ► Rectangular to Polar ► Okay.

That gives you an orb!

If you don’t crop your picture to a square, you won’t get an orb. Instead, if your picture is wider than it is tall, you’ll get an oval on its side. If your picture is taller than it is wide, you’ll get an oval on end.

Have fun!

Lastly, guess who is in this orb?

Zoey the Cool Cat in an orb

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I would approve this post
if I wasn’t dreaming of catching birds.Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

37 thoughts on “Creating an orb in Photoshop

  1. laurie27wsmith

    Good stuff Russel, I’m going to try that, watch this space. Oh let us know when Zoey is untangled won’t you?


  2. Hot Rod Cowgirl

    Love it and thank you for sharing as I would never figure it out on my own. Photoshop to me is learn as we go and a few interesting moments of frustration:) I will try this tomorrow:) Have a good night and Minnie Mouse says “Hey Joey, you is the cool cat and I bet you know where it is at:)”….so does Min:) Kitty loves and hugs!


  3. babso2you

    That cool cat just has to get involved! I did this with a photo of lavender. It came out pretty cool! Check out my blog today as I did a post on the Flamingos at the zoo! – Hugs – B


  4. europasicewolf

    Oh no!! What have you done to poor Zoe the suddenly not so cool but rather spun in the washing mac hine look cat! lol 😉 Just as well she was dreaming of catching birds or else I doubt very much she would be approving this post! lol 😉

    I have a different version of photoshop but it still produces some brilliant effects when you get it figured out 🙂 Not sure it would do what you’ve done but I’ve had fun playing with tat side of it!


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  6. Bashar A.

    Nice tutorial Russ… btw, are you going to Creative Cloud? I signed up because I had CS3 and now its like you have no option but that!! Wondering how you’re going to handle the change.


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I’ve actually been on CC since February 2012. After creating an Excel spreadsheet showing me the difference in cost between subscribing at $19.99 a month and buying CS5 and upgrading every time (which I do), it was far less expensive to subscribe.


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  14. Steven Anschel

    If you do not have access to Photoshop, you can create the Orb in the free, on-line Pixlr Editor.
    Orb Steps in Pixlr Editor
    1. Crop to square
    2. Filter > Polar Coordinates > Polar to Rectangle > OK
    3. Image > Flip Canvas Vertical
    4. Filter > Polar Coordinates > Rectangle to Polar OK
    Optional: Lay a small, cut-out version of the original image over the Orb
    I created an Orb group on Flickr a year ago (ORBS created with Photoshop) where you can add your best Orbs here



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