Create a 3D Sphere in Photoshop Elements 12

Adobe Photoshop CS6 includes a number of tools that enable you to create 3D graphics and tools for animating 3D elements. Unfortunately, Photoshop Elements 12 doesn’t have the same compliment of tools; however, with a little finesse, you can create some simple 3D spheres.

You can find similar processes for creating 3D spheres at Digital Goulash and other places with a search of the Internet.


Open a photo in the Photo Editor.

Use a photo featuring a skyline, building, landscape, or some similar kind of content. You can try this method on different photos to see the effect applied to your favorite images.

Open the More pop-up menu in the Panel Bin at the bottom of the panel and choose Customize. Tabs for the different panels appear at the top of the Panel Bin.


Create a circle on a layer.

Double-click Background in the Layers panel if the photo is not currently on a layer.

Use the Elliptical Marquee tool, press Alt/Option+Shift, and draw from the center out to create a circle in the middle of the photo. If you want to move the circle around the photo while creating the marquee, press the spacebar while keeping the Alt/Option and Shift keys pressed. As you drag, the cursor the circle moves. You can also move the selection after creating it by placing the cursor inside the circle and drag around the photo.

When you have the area selected as you like, press Ctrl/Command + I to inverse the selection so the outside area is selected.

Press the Delete key to delete the area surrounding the circle.


Create a sphere.

While the selection is active, choose Filter→Distort→Spherize.

In the Spherize dialog box, move the Amount slider to 100% and click OK.


Create a white circle on a new layer.

With the circle still selected, click the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers panel to create a new layer.

Fill the selection with white. You can easily fill with white by pressing the D key to return to the default Foreground/Background colors and press Ctrl/Command+Delete to fill with the background color (default white).


Add a bevel effect.

Click the Effects tab at the top of the Panel Bin to open the Effects panel. Click the Styles tab and double-click the first item in the second row (the Simple Inner effect) to apply the effect to the top layer. Be certain to not click the effect with a drop shadow.


Open the Style Settings.

Double-click the fx button in the Layers panel to open the Style Settings.


Edit the size and lighting angle.

Move the Size slider to the far right to 250 px.

Drag the Lighting Angle radius line around to the area where you want the light source to originate. At 140°, the light source appears in the top left of the sphere.


Blend the layers.

Choose Multiply from the Blend Mode drop-down menu.


Merge the layers and resize the sphere.

Right-click a layer in the Layer panel and choose Merge Visible to merge the layers. You can also open the Layers menu and choose Merge Visible.

Press Ctrl/Command+T to transform the object. Right-click and choose Scale.

Press the Shift key and drag a handle inward to size the object down.


Duplicate the layer and flip the object.

Right-click the layer in the Layers panel and choose Duplicate to duplicate the layer.

Choose Image→Rotate→Flip Selection Vertical.

Click the Move tool and move the duplicate layer below the original layer. Keep the Shift key pressed as you drag the layer to constrain the movement.

Then create a layer mask by clicking the Add Layer Mask button at the top of the Layers panel.


Add a gradient to the reflection.

Deselect the image by pressing Ctrl/Command+D.

Click the Gradient tool and drag from the bottom of the top sphere down to the bottom of the image window. Your default gradient should be a linear gradient black to white.


Create a shadow.

Click the New Layer icon to create a new layer. The layer should appear between the sphere layers.

Drag an oval with the Marquee Selection tool between the two spheres. Fill the oval with black by pressing Alt/Option+Delete. Your Foreground/Background colors should still be the black foreground and white background.


Soften the shadow.

Deselect the selection by pressing Ctrl/Command+D.

Choose Filter→Blur→Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur dialog box, move the radius slider to about 15 pixels and click OK. If the shadow is too strong, you can move the Opacity slider in the Layers panel to a lower value.


Move the shadow and reflected sphere.

Click the Move tool in the Tools panel and drag the shadow opposite your lighting source; here, shadow is on the right.

You can also move the bottom sphere so it appears off the direction of the light source.


Set new gradient attributes.

Click the bottom layer in the Layers panel and press the Ctrl/Command key. Click the Create a New Layer icon, and the new layer appears at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Click the Foreground color swatch in the Tools panel to open the Color Picker and choose a color for the foreground. Click the Background color swatch and choose a color for the background.

Click the Gradient tool in the Tools panel. In the Tool Options panel, choose Foreground to Background from the Edit pop-up menu. Click the Radial icon to select a radial gradient.


Add a new gradient to the bottom background layer.

With the Gradient tool selected in the Tools panel, move the cursor in to the top of the bottom sphere and drag up toward the light source. If your first effort doesn’t appear good to you, move the cursor to a new origin and drag again. Keep dragging the Gradient tool until the background color looks right.

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