I have seen the following technique from a couple of sources. The first was in one of Rick Sammon’s books, and then I saw it in a very recent blog. I was reminded to cover this technique with my own image as I uploaded it for printing on aluminum at SizzlPix! It’s a fun post-processing technique that you can try on some of your own images. It won’t be a hit on every one of them, but when it does work, the results are pretty wild.
First, look for an image with a strong graphic element. Flowers and trees tend to work very well, and if you can avoid a cluttered background, so much the better.
Here is my original image. Notice the strong graphic element of the trees, and a minimally disrupted background.
On this image, after bringing it into Photoshop (CS4, in this case), I did a little modification by adding a NIK Color Efex Pro Polarization filter in order to even out the brilliant blue sky. Then, using my LAHR/HALR sharpening technique, I brought things to the clarity that I wanted.
Make sure the image is flattened. Also ensure that it’s in 8-bit mode by using the Image -> Mode -> 8-bits/Channel command, as the upcoming Distort filter doesn’t work in 16-bit mode.
Go to Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinates. In the preview window, select Polar To Rectangular and let it fly. Funky, eh? Maybe you’d like to stop there…
Go to Image -> Image Rotation -> Flip Canvas Vertical. And then…
Go to Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinate, but select Rectangular to Polar.
For this image, the result is:
Well, there was just a bit of extra work. The immediate output from the final Distort command yielded, in this case, a tan or buff background. Using a simple Paint Bucket tool set to a very low Tolerance of only a few pixels, I dumped black into the outer areas to really set off the contrast to the image.
I’ve printed this out large on metallic paper. Killer!
This is one of those techniques that can really yield some interesting surprises. Feel free to play around with various combinations and different images. Since there’s so little effort involved, you really can’t go wrong.