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Old November 18th, 2008, 02:47 PM   #1
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Can Photoshop CS4 do this?

Hi, and thanks to anyone who can answer this.

How can I unroll a 3D sphere image into a 2D image. Please note that I don't want to flatten the image as this makes the flattened image a circle of the viewed side of the sphere. What I want is to take the entire surface of the sphere and unroll it as if I was reversing the original create 3D sphere process.

The reason I want to do this is that I want to make hand drawn planets. I do the initial work in 2D and then wrap the drawing to a 3D sphere which creates a seam. I then work on the image more in 3D mode to eliminate the seam. When completed I want to now unroll the 3D back to 2D so I can use this flat image to wrap in software like After Effects.

Is this possible, is there a better way? From what I am starting to learn about Photoshop CS4 it doesn't seem to have the ability to unwrap the meshes it creates. Having said that there seems to be this ability in the large majority of 3d software (like 3dStudioMax, Maya, etc.) I do not want to have to purchase and learn 3D software for this singular intended use. I have downloaded Blender which seems like it might do it but again, very large amount of time spent learning the software just to see if it can be done. I know that it is not a simple thing to do but I would at least hope for a simple answer....yes/no Photoshop CS4/Photoshop can/cannot do.

Thanks in advance,
James Hooey
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Old November 27th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #2
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bump...

No ideas here?
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Old November 29th, 2008, 01:17 AM   #3
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not sure I follow you... Why not draw a 2d image then import into Ae and make it a sphere there? It shouldn't have a seem either. Just use CC Sphere effect. I've made planets with flat pics of the earth that turn out great.

Check out VideoCopilot.net Video Tutorials & Post Production they have great tutorials for Ae. there are a couple planet tutorials there. By far the best tutorial site I've found so far.
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Old November 29th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #4
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Tom,

It's unfortunately not a simple as taking any old 2d image and wrapping it to a sphere with CCsphere in AE. That is of course what I am trying to do but you have to consider that the image at the left and right of the original 2D image must be symetrical or there WILL be a seam. Same goes for the poles, if the image is not stretched correctly than the 2D image will be badly distorted at the poles.

The Videocopilot tutorials are exactly what I could reference to both suggest the workflow for creating the sphere as well as an example of the 2D image before the CCsphere wrap is applied. If you look at his images of the earth surface and cloud texture, the leftmost side is exactly the same as the rightmost side, thus allowing for no seam to be created when wrapped to a 3D sphere. Same goes for the poles where proper stretching of the image exists so that when it is wrapped to a sphere the poles look good.

Try it with a basic drawing and you will see what I mean, unless things match left/right, pole stretch there WILL be seams and poor looking polar graphics once wrapped to a shere. You mention Tom that you have made planets from flat pics of the earth....well were they created with the above in mind? If so then of course they will wrap to a sphere properly.....but try it with something created from scratch and you'll start to see the problem.

For instance, try mapping this to a sphere in AE with ccSphere...it is an example of a original drawin I would map to a sphere, but creates the seams/poles problem.

I agree that the Videocopilot tutorials are great but I will be selling various clips and surface textures as stock footage and files so I cannot just go out and copy other peoples work.
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Old November 29th, 2008, 04:17 PM   #5
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You might consider using a 3d application to wrap the image onto a sphere correctly, as you will likely have more control in a true 3d space. Try Blender maybe, since it's free?
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Old November 29th, 2008, 06:53 PM   #6
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I'm getting the feeling that I am not being very clear about what I wanted to ask....so here it goes again....

I CAN wrap a image to a shere in AE. That is not the issue.

What I CANNOT do is seem to come up with is a way to create the original 2D image properly in the first place.

Other 3D programs to wrap the image to a sphere are not the solution.....it's creating the image in the first place that is the problem.....

Think of it this way....unwrap the image already on a sphere to a flat 2D image....hence the way I explained the workflow at the beginning of this post...

1) Start by drawing a 2D image
2) Wrap to a 3D sphere in Photoshop
3) Clone out seams and create proper looking poles
4) Unwrap this sphere back to 2D to use as an image to wrap to ccSphere in AE.

It's step number 4 that I cannot achieve and would like a solution for.

Thanks again for everyones help, I didn't think it was a hard thing to explain or find an answer to but it is turning up several dead ends and much frustration. :(
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Old November 30th, 2008, 09:29 PM   #7
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OK, I've never had to do this so it's a bit theoretical, but I'll pass the thought along anyway - namely, why not draw on a sphere in a 3D package in the first place

I believe Body Paint/Cinema 4D supports direct drawing on a 3D object and I think the other major packages do as well.

I've also taken 360 degree panoramic photos and used Stitcher to map them to spheres (actually strangely enough to a cubic projection) which looks fine when applied to a sphere in Cinema 4D.

I'll research this a bit more and see if I can confirm if it would work or not. Because I've been working from photos I've never had to tackle the drawing part of it.

I know I'm talking more about the first three items on your list, but it just seems that working in 3D from the get go might be easier than what you're doing. Anyhow, I'll dig through the manuals and see what I can find about unwrapping to the UV map.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 01:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post

I know I'm talking more about the first three items on your list, but it just seems that working in 3D from the get go might be easier than what you're doing. Anyhow, I'll dig through the manuals and see what I can find about unwrapping to the UV map.

Thanks for helping Jim, if you can find the answer then I would be a very happy man :)

It's the unwrapping to UV map (thank you for qualifying what I am trying to achieve with the proper name btw) that is key in both what I want to achieve and what is causing me the problem....

Photoshop Extended CS4 can actually do all the 3D work like wrapping a 2D image to a sphere (or several other primatives for that matter). It allows for all the regular paint/drawing options on that 3D object that you would usually do to a 2D object (this is how I am able to paint on the sphere and remove seams/pole issues as mentioned in step three of my workflow). It is the unwrapping that I'm stuck on....

WHY do I want the unwrapped image specifically, seeing as I can actually import the finished/blended/no seam sphere as a 3D photoshop project right into After Effects? (At this point you might be thinking...wth? if he can create the image, make the sphere, blend out the seams and place it all into After Effects, than what is his problem....???

The main reason is this..... The 3D Photoshop file in After Effects actually behaves a little differently than if you had a 2D image that you could wrap to ccSphere. The 3D file actually creates and imports it's own lighting and camera system into After Effects making it much harder to integrate with other AE lights/cameras and 3D elements. This is why I would far prefer to just have Photoshop end up with a final 2D image that could be wrapped within AE with the ccSphere plugin.

Thanks again, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a Photoshop CS4 answer can be found. Failing that then a Blender or other free option. I'm just reading up on the Photoshop 3D part of the pdf manual now.....
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Old December 1st, 2008, 01:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post

I've also taken 360 degree panoramic photos and used Stitcher to map them to spheres (actually strangely enough to a cubic projection) which looks fine when applied to a sphere in Cinema 4D.

Thats cool stuff too!! You might be interested in this tutorial regarding 360 degree panoramic photos and virtual environments.

Building a Cube World: Part 1 : Adobe After Effects Tutorial

I would love to pick your brain a little in regards to how you are taking your photos when collecting the shots for 360 degree panos. Photoshop CS4 has the ability to stitch panos in many methods including cubic and is supposedly very good at it but I have not tried it yet. I have some wonders about lenses, shooting methods and such, care to share?

All the best,
James Hooey
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Old December 1st, 2008, 10:50 AM   #10
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Well, hopefully I can contribute more to this than terminology!

Would love to get my hands on CS4 and see what they've done, but since I bought CS3 and AE CS3 about a month before they announced CS4, I'm feeling a little unhappy and not ready to part with the $$$ again so soon. Maybe next year.

It's interesting to see the 2D guys slowly oozing into real 3D.

Taking the photos is really pretty simple. I got a Manfrotto panorama head and leveling base and a fisheye lens for my Canon 5D and the rest is up to Stitcher. I don't know that I really like the app all that much, but it is capable of producing good results. The French company that did it (RealViz) was bought by Autodesk a few months back.

I've been playing around with importing the 3D pano into Cinema 4D, but it's just playing around at this point. I want to do a rather ambitious animation combining video and CGI, but paying work and household stuff keep getting in the way and I'm not making progress very rapidly. Maybe next year!

The panos do import quite nicely, though, and map well to 3D objects. I'll try to rummage around and fin one I could send you.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:42 AM   #11
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CS4 can!!!!

Hi Jim and everyone else who stopped by on this thread and offered advice and thoughts....I'm happy to say that Photoshop Extended CS4 can do what I needed, here is the quick test results....

This has some minor adjustments done to the image compared to the first example shown higher up in this thread. Notice in particular the top and bottom edges (the polar areas if it were a 3D image). I did a bare minimum of work to clone out and test the workflow in PS so it's nothing fancy but it's seamless and not nearly as distorted as it was originally when mapped to ccSphere.

So....the workflow I was trying to achieve works fine in PSE. Specifically there are a number of controls for mapping textures to 3D objects within PSE CS4 (you can have up to 9 texture maps per 3D mesh I believe and can edit the textures either while mapped to the 3D mesh or 'unwrapped' as a flat 2D plane. Simply clicking on the diffuse texture layer of the 3D sphere allows you to see the 2D image and easily select it and save it as a new file.

This all stems from my inexperience with 3D software, principles and probably the biggest error people make most often RTFM!! It's laid out fairly plainly in the PSE .pdf on how to work with textures, meshes and all things 3D within PSE. I had simply put the cart about 2 miles in front of the horse one evening thinking about the concept of 3D planets.

Jim....don't underestimate your help for a second, with your clarification that I was attempting to work with UV maps....it was that nugget of info that help me both confirm some info I had been reading about 3D principles and how to research the whole situation better. In regards to 360 panoramas I'll start a thread with a few of the questions I have so as to keep the forum tidy.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:07 PM   #12
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Really glad you found it! Now you're making me think I should upgrade to CS4! I wish they had a special deal for people who bought CS3 only weeks before CS4 came out.

I think people's disinclination to read manuals comes from - well maybe laziness and an "I'm sure if I push enough buttons I'll figure it out" mentality. As well as the fact that so many manuals are totally useless!

Unfortunately, 3D is extremely non-intuitive and just pushing buttons won't hack it!

The kind of things I do in 3D are usually animations involving glass objects interacting with fluids (Obects modeled in Cinema 4D, exported to RealFlow for the fluid simulation, with meshes exported back to C4D for days of rendering!) so I worry a lot about physical properties of simulated materials, like indices of refraction and viscosity, and almost never worry about texture mapping in the classical sense.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Really glad you found it! Now you're making me think I should upgrade to CS4! I wish they had a special deal for people who bought CS3 only weeks before CS4 came out.
FWIW there was a lot of discussion about free upgrades for people in your sitution. Have you checked with Adobe to see if you might be eligible?
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:40 PM   #14
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Duhhhh!

Never occured to me! I just assumed I was scr*w*d Amazing how it's so much easier for us old f*rts to sit and bitch about something than to get up on our hind legs and do something. Must be related to getting close to the big seven-zero.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 05:14 PM   #15
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Checked with Adobe - I was right in my original supposition. No deal.

I ordered CS4 and AE CS4 anyhow and will list my yet-to-be-installed copies of AE CS3 and CS3 Design Premium upgrades on Amazon.

I contacted the Cinema 4D support folks and they said that the only decent way to export the UV maps was with a couple of plugins and/or Photoshop CS4 Extended so I guess the handwriting is on the wall!

So I bit the bullet!

Anyhow, just thought I'd report the results of my investigations.
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