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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grid on a Globe

I saw a similar effect on a recent Newsweek cover and I was inspired to try replicating it with GIMP. After a good bit of experimentation, I came up with a not-too-complex method which I have presented here.
Part 1 - Preparation
The most tedious part of this exercise is preparing the images you plan to place on the sphere. You will need twenty 100 pix by 100 pix square images. Of course, for the purpose of the exercise you could use just a few images repeatedly. At any rate, you will need to select your images and crop each one to a square. Then all the images will need to be resized to 100 x 100 pixels. I used Mac OS X's Automater to create a workflow to perform this second step. There are also a number of freeware/shareware utilities to carry out this task, as well, and an Apple Script.

Part 2 - Create a new image for the picture grid
Create a new image 425 pixels by 530 pixels (height = 1.25 x width). Next turn on the grid and configure it.
1. View - Show Grid
2. View - Snap to Grid
3. Image - Configure Grid ...
Set Width and Height both to 108. This will allow an 8 pixel space between the images in the grid.

4. Start placing the small square pictures into the grid.
File - Open as Layer... (Ctrl+Alt+O)
5. With the Move tool, position the picture in the top left corner of a grid square.
When you get near the corner, it'll snap into place.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the grid squares are filled.
7. When the grid is filled, flatten the image to a single layer.
Image - Flatten Image
Part 3 - Create a second image which will become the sphere
1. Create a new square image 1000 pix by 1000 pix. 2. Activate the grid image and copy it. Edit - Copy (Ctrl+C) 3. Make the new empty image active and paste the grid image onto it. Edit - Paste (Ctrl+V) The grid image is now a floating layer centered over the plain background layer. 4. Stretch the new layer (the grid) vertically. Layer - Scale layer... Break the Width/Height link by clicking on the chain icon Set the height to 850 (height = 2 x width)

5. Anchor the floating selection to the background layer.
Layer - Anchor Layer (Ctrl+H, or click the anchor icon in the layers dialog)
Part 4 - Map this image to a sphere
1. Filters - Map - Map to Object...
Select Map to : Sphere
Check Transparent background

2. Depending on the speed of your system, this may take a bit to render.

Use this as a jumping-off point. You may want to experiment with different aspect ratios for the individual images, different numbers of images, different grid sizes, and so on. An idea I might work on is blending the pictures rather than having distinct frames. -- tab


Hank said...

Very nice tutorial. Well done.

kapris said...

This tutorial is featured on 70 creative Gimp tutorials