How to Make a Bubble Portrait using Photoshop CS3

How to Make a Bubble Portrait using Photoshop CS3


bubble-portrait-3.jpgDan McGinty (see his work on Flickr)- one of our wonderful Forum members – submitted this tutorial on how to create a bubble portrait using Photoshop CS3. Got a tip or tutorial to share? Post it in the tutorials section of our forum.

Upon request I am posting a step by step how to on a recent photo I posted in the share section. I wanted to try something different so I thought of fish eye effects, Well I decided to do the opposite. More of a bubble effect and I loved it for this photo.

Program Used: Photoshop CS3

Difficulty: Easy to Average

Things You Need: A photograph!

Ok, Well here it goes. I will post screen shots along with directions.

Step 1: Open your Image in Photoshop:

Step 2: Draw a box around the part that you would like to put in the bubble.(Hold Shift to keep the rectangle tool as a box.) Remember that you will be losing your corners.


Step 3: deselect the part you have cropped (Apple-d). Then go to filter: Distort: Spherize… Keep it at 100%


Step 4: Now you will have your square image with a sphere effect to the whole center. Select the circle tool now. Start in one corner and drag to the other corner while holding shift to get a perfect circle selecting your sphere.

Then, select:inverse. (selecting all the areas that aren’t in the sphere.)


Step 5: Add a layer. You will still have the area from step 4 selected. Then grab the paint bucket and whatever color you’d like to use and pour it into the space selected!

And now you have completed your Portrait in a bubble!!! Easy right?



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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • ali February 21, 2009 04:34 am

    cool, thank u!!!!!!!!

  • Tom January 18, 2009 08:56 am

    In addition to the Filters / Light and Shadow / Apply Lens option in GIMP, one can use

    Filter / Map / Map Object

    It's more work, but there is more flexibility like rotating the image.

  • Christina January 16, 2009 07:47 pm

    fantastic idea for those who are still in high school and can't buy a fish eye lens yer, thats me :)
    yer i think this would be ia good i dea for a photo book iam making

  • Adrian January 16, 2009 06:18 am

    Great tip, might try it on some of the wedding photos on our site always looking for new effects and things to try.


  • Theron January 15, 2009 03:10 am

    Thanks, Scott, for the GIMP equivalent! I'll try that tonight.

  • Krish January 14, 2009 12:43 am

    Great tip. I tried on my picture. When I select the circle tool the bubble becomes white or opaque and I am unable to proceed further. I am doing something wrong and dont know what it is. Can you help me. I want to try this bubble effect.

  • Scott Coulter January 8, 2009 07:09 am

    For any GIMP users who want to try this, the equivalent seems to be Filters / Light and Shadow / Apply Lens.

  • Flores January 7, 2009 01:38 pm

    How do we distort-spherize without distorting the main object/focal point but just the background or at least do not distort the main object/focal point too much?

  • Phil Ball January 6, 2009 11:41 am

    Nice image and a creative idea. I have two suggestions:
    In step 4, I would feather the selection by 20-80 pixels to taste(depending on the image's pixel size) to get a soft edged vignette effect.
    Also, the lady's complexion is rough. I'd smooth it out using the spot healing brush and the blur tool

  • Julie January 6, 2009 10:16 am

    It's "cool" because it takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. My family is having a laugh and I am having fun. My pic of an alligator now has extraordinary teeth!

  • Alexandru January 6, 2009 03:24 am

    Is there a reason why this effect is considered cool? It is just a distorted picture.

    Anyway, there are some articles which might help:

  • Mark January 6, 2009 12:52 am

    ...yep, sorry, of course i meant circle, not rectangle...

    So you first choose circle with shift, then crop, then sphere, then choose inverse, then paintbucket...and that´s it...

  • Dan McGinty January 5, 2009 11:06 pm

    Mark - you have to select the circle because nothing is selected after you spheresized, if you hit select inverse, nothing will be selected in the first place so there for you need to draw the circle around the sphere then select inverse to get the whole outside area. At least thats what I ran into. I've never selected inverse on something when it didn't have anything selected yet but i'll try it to see what you mean

  • Pat January 5, 2009 08:24 pm

    That looks like a great tool! I'm still using CS2 so will have to check whether spherize is available - perhaps another reason to upgrade to CS4 :-)

    PatB Photography

  • Mark January 5, 2009 05:37 pm

    Just wondering, what is the purpose to first make a rectangle then circle? Why don´t you just make one perfect rectangle, crop, then spherisize, select inverse - voila!

  • Dan McGinty January 5, 2009 03:13 pm

    Wow, Cool. I didn't think this would come about in the blog section. I see it as the opposite of a fish eye, right? it curves the opposite way? I agree it is only good for once or twice. Also has to be the right image.

  • Tom January 5, 2009 09:04 am

    I have a better way....get a fisheye lens. :D

    but I have to say, it is a pretty nice technique for a once or twice, casual use

  • JF January 5, 2009 08:20 am

    Very nice! I don't have Photoshop CS3, but I found it can be done with Photoshop Elements 5 (I assume it can be done with Elements 6 and 7). My kids are now having fun seeing their pictures in a bubble!

  • Julie January 5, 2009 08:16 am

    This is great fun. I also added some lighting effects to a few of mine to give my sphere a little more "spherical" dimension. I deleted the excess outside the sphere on one photo rather than fill it. I liked this the best (looks cool on the blog anyways). On another I decreased brightness in the excess for a cool effect too. Lots of fun. Thanks!

  • Rick January 5, 2009 05:41 am

    Nice! This should transfer nicely over to GIMP. I'll give it a shot when I get a few minutes.

  • Nicky Hurt January 5, 2009 05:05 am

    Thanks for posting this! One of my goals for this year is to learn 52 new techniques. I used this on three photos, and learned a valuable lesson (that it's not pretty on the hips!) Here is my practice:

  • Tom Sinclair January 5, 2009 01:44 am

    Nice quick tutorial! Great for people who don't have a fisheye. Can't wait to get my hands ona fisheye to have a play with!

  • Calvin January 5, 2009 12:57 am

    That's so cool :D

  • Neil Creek January 5, 2009 12:54 am

    A neat technique, but it's can't really compare to a portrait taken by fisheye lens:

    If you don't have a fisheye though, this does a reasonable job of replicating the effect!