How to convert a rectangle into a circle (tutorial)
When creating surface designs, sometimes it’s useful to convert a rectangle into a circle.
Have you ever wanted to take an image like this one…And turn it into this?
Or maybe convert this….into that?
I wanted to use photographs of snow scenes that I’ve taken in the past to create amazing designs for Christmas tree skirts on Zazzle.
Just one problem: Christmas tree skirts are round, and my images are rectangular. I needed to convert a rectangular photo to a circular design.
In Photoshop Elements, there is a setting under Filters, under Distort, called Polar Coordinates:
In order to use the Polar Coordinates tool, first unlock the background layer:
Resize canvas from rectangular to square using “Canvas Size:”
I’ve used a small image here for the purposes of illustration, but for large items such as Christmas tree skirts, the original photo needs to be at least 24 inches in width and 300 ppi.
The blank space above and below the image on the canvas will allow the Polar Coordinates tool to function properly.
Now save your file as a psd, close it and exit the program.
This is necessary because when working with such large files, no matter how many times you clear the history, the working RAM for the program shrinks. The Polar Coordinates tool requires a lot of RAM to function. Resetting the amount of RAM available doesn’t appear to fix this…
Reopen your file and Photoshop Elements.
Open Filters => Distort => Polar Coordinates
Select the option Rectangular to Polar
And…there you have it!
Your finished artwork should be somewhere around 21 inches in diameter.
Crop the empty space, resize to 20 inches, save as a PNG file, upload to Zazzle and add to a tree skirt:
Smaller size files can also be used for round designs, like ornaments or cutting boards.
An Additional Tip:
The more height given to objects in the foreground, the better the final artwork becomes.
In order to have recognizable barns, I wound up squashing four views of the barn house into the space normally reserved for one: and flipping the second and fourth copies to create mirrored images:
Using the grid tool helps with sizing and placement.
- Merge the layers,
- edit the image to soften lines at edges of the previous layers and dark spots in the sky,
- add cute little signs with (optional) text on them
- then go through the steps using the Polar Coordinates tool to create your new artwork,
- upload to Zazzle:
More tree skirts I’ve designed using Polar Coordinates:
If you don’t have access to Photoshop Elements and would like some help converting a favorite photo into a tree skirt design, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to help!