As I look at some of the old notes on the steps in creating the orb effect, I can't help but to step through a refresher myself for the fun of it. I know there are many articles out there that explains the steps in creating the orb effect, but no harm for me to also share the steps involved to benefit anyone that chance across my site.
Photoshop Tutorial on How to Create Orb Effect
Step 1: Choose PhotoIn general, I felt that landscape photographs with buildings will typically look nice with an orb effect. But still, you can try it on any photographs that you want as it may give you surprising results. Once you have chosen the photograph,
Step 2: Open in Photoshop and Resize
Open the photograph that you want to work on in Photoshop (note: I assume the photograph should already be in JPEG format). You will probably need to resize your photographs to a width of 800 pixels (recommended) or you will end up with a very very huge orb.
How to resize image?
Image > Image Size
Make sure "Constrain Proportions" is checked, and set your width to 800 pixels
Once you are done, you will need to unlock the image layer.
Step 3: Set The Canvas SizeYou will now need to set your canvas size with width that is double of your image size. So if your image with is 800 pixels, the width of your canvas should be 1600 pixels.
How to set canvas size?
Image > Canvas Size
Change the Width to 1600 pixels (i.e. double of your image size)
Step 4: Duplicate the LayerYou will now need to duplicate your image layer.
How to duplicate image layer?
Right click on your image layer in the Layer Panel and select "Duplicate Layer", and click "OK" in the pop-up dialog box.
Step 5: Create a Symmetrical Image Side-by-SideThere are a few mini-steps to follow in order to create a symmetric of your image.
How to create a symmetric of the image side-by-side?
Start with the Bottom Layer
Select the bottom layer from the Layer Panel, and press CTRL+A to select the entire layer.
Then from the main menu, Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Left Edges
Next, select the Top Layer.
Then from the main menu, Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal
With the Top Layer still selected, press CTRL+A to select the entire layer.
Then from the main menu, Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Right Edges
Once you are done, you should have a symmetrical image that look like this ...
Step 6: Stretch and Flip the Symmetrical Image
Merge Your LayersRight click on the top layer from the Layer Panel, and select "Merge Down"
Stretch Your Image to a SquareImage > Image Size
Make sure that the Constrain Proportions is now unchecked.
If your image width is 1600 pixels, set the height to be 1600 pixels as well.
(Yes, your image will now look ugly stretched but it is alright :)
Flip Your ImageEdit > Transform > Flip Vertically
(The ugly stretched image is now upside down - that's cool :)
Step 7: Apply "Polar Coordinates"
Now for the last magical step ...From the main menu ...
Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates
In the pop-up dialog box, select "Rectangular to Polar" and click "OK".
That's all and have fun creating orb effect for your photographs :)
Picture: Popiah with orb effect (picture from SG Food on Foot)