Create a chrome ball from a photo with Gimp

Gimp has a built-in sphere mapping filter (Filters > Map > Map Object) and that works great for spherizing graphics. But for a chrome ball effect, a little tweaking is helpful.

Here’s a brief tutorial walking through the process of taking a photo and making a chrome ball from it.

The Details

To clarify upfront, you can create a chrome ball from scratch in GIMP by just using the Map Object filter as mentioned above. But using an image adds some nice variation to the ball that tends to look more realistic.

We’ll use this freely available image:

Simply download and open the image (or your own image) in Gimp. Once it’s opened up, let’s resize the image so that it has a 1:1 aspect ratio.

Go to Image > Scale Image… and resize it so it has the same Width and Height.Gimp - Chrome ball - Resize

We’ll blur the image a bit for the chrome effect. Go to Filters > Gaussian Blur… and set the blur to a radius of 30 for both Horizontal and Vertical.

Gimp - Chrome ball - Gaussian Blur

We’ll use Gimp’s Map filter for the sphere effect. Go to Filters > Map > Map Object… and you’ll see a panel of options.

Tweaking the settings

The following are some of the settings that I found worked very well for the options in the various tabs.

  • Map to: Sphere
  • Transparent background (ticked)
  • Create new image (ticked so you can easily try variations)

Gimp - Chrome ball > Map object > Options


Light Settings

  • Lightsource type: Point light
  • Lightsource color: white


  • X: 0.0
  • Y: -30.0
  • Z: 10.0

Gimp - Chrome ball > Map object > Light


Intensity Levels

  • Ambient: 0.3
  • Diffuse: 0.75


  • Diffuse: 0.3
  • Specular: 2.0
  • Highlight: 1.0

Gimp - Chrome ball > Map object > Material

  • X: 0.5
  • Y: 0.5
  • Z: .095

Gimp - Chrome ball > Map object > Orientation

With the settings configured the way you like, just press OK to proceed. It’ll take just a moment to process.

And here’s the result with the above settings, a beautiful chrome ball with subtle photo content.

Gimp - Chrome ball

Please feel free to post some results here. I’d love to see them. 🙂


Create a chrome ball from a photo with Gimp

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s