I’ve been playing around with my phone, and stumbled across a neat little app called ROLLWORLD, which is free from the App Store. You may have seen this kind of effect before, where miniature worlds are created by spherising an image. Whilst it is possible to accomplish the same effect in Photoshop, using something called ‘Polar Coordinates’, ROLLWORLD does it much less painlessly and the results are almost instant. However, play around with the various parameters, and you can create some truly abstract and interesting art. You can also tweak the effects to achieve other spiral forms if you’re not that bothered about making it look like a miniature world.

screen grabTo achieve the best results for creating a tiny planet, it’s all about how you compose and frame your shot. As far as I can figure out, the optimum image for treatment should follow these guidelines:

(a) Landscape orientation works well, whereas Portrait is less than reliable.

(b) A crop ratio of 2:1 is ideal, where the length is twice the height.

(c) Panoramas can be very effective, but keep your horizon dead straight.

(d) The Bottom 25% of the original photograph is used to create the sphere / planet and is the most distorted area of the final image.

(e) The Top 25% makes for the sky or background.

(f) The middle 50% becomes the surface objects on the sphere.

(g) Selfies look terrible (always), ‘duck-faces’ are further distorted (avoid). 

(h) Strong horizontal elements, such as horizons will help the effect by providing an outline or shift in tone.

(i) Vertical elements are tricky and can fall-off the frame if they are too close to the top edge.

Playing around with images you already have is useful when learning how this App functions. Unfortunately, not all images will work, but use the above notes and you’ll be up and running, making all kinds of weird little planets in no time.

Great fun, hope this info helps? Here are a few images that I’ve toyed with…

Hockley Viaduct

Hockley Viaduct, Winchester

Cricket Match

The Cricket Match, Hampshire

St Denis Lighthouse

Lighthouse, St Denis

Rollercoaster

Rollercoaster, Hayling Island

Crackington Haven

Crackington Haven

Dog In Long Grass

Dog In Long Grass

Fields Of Gold

Field Of Gold, West Sussex

Beach Huts

Beach Huts, Hayling Island

Manhatten Skyline

Lower Manhatten Skyline, New York City

Indian Summer

Indian Summer

Sea Defences

Sea Defences, Ile D’Oleron

Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire.

Images © Harvey Mills 2014

Harvey Mills is an award-winning professional photographer, whose portfolio is as diverse as it is extensive. Although a Winchester photographer he works across the UK and beyond, undertaking a variety of commissions, projects and assignments.