How to Draw a Globe in Photoshop

I continue to be surprised by the number of people hitting my Photoshop website for no other reason than that they’ve found the crystal globe through an image search. I thought that it might be time to introduce a more “Vista” style – but as completely artistic – kind of globe.

This guide will help you create a globe in Photoshop that can be used as an icon, webbie, or part of a logo. You will need a copy of Photoshop, version 7 or later, or a program like GIMP that allows layers. Please be aware that I’m creating this guide using Photoshop CS3, so if you’re using another version some of the tools discussed might be in different locations.

You’ll also want to grab a copy of this free Photoshop shape; it’s nothing more than continents, but it will save you a load of time trying to get the globe looking like a globe.

Drawing a Globe: The Steps

  1. New Canvas & Colors: Open a new canvas in Photoshop (File, New) that is sized around 500 x 500 pixels. You can size it down later; start large to keep image quality. It should be in RGB mode with a white background.

Then, set your colors. Your foreground color should be #9cc7e9 and your background color should be #4477b9.

  1. Draw a Perfect Circle: Use your circle SHAPE tool for this – not the marquee. Select the circle shape tool and hold your shift key down on your keyboard while you drag the shape out. This will keep it a perfect circle. It needs to fill most of the canvas. When it’s drawn, right-click the circle’s layer and choose “Rasterize Layer”.
  2. Apply Layer Styles: In the older versions of Photoshop, the layer styles icon is a little Macromedia-looking “x”. In CS3, it is a button below your layers palette that says “fx”. Either way, click that button and choose “Stroke”. We’ll go through two settings real quickly here.

Stroke – Leave all settings alone except the color. Set the color to your background color (#4477b9).
Gradient Overlay – Grab your light-to-dark blue gradient, set the Style to Radial, and increase the scale to about 135%.

  1. Change Colors: We’re now going to change our colors so that the foreground color is white (#ffffff) and the background color is a dark green (#115351).
  2. Draw Continents: Now it’s time to use that shape set you downloaded. Load it in your custom shapes, and use it to draw across the globe. It needs to cover most of the globe, so pick what continents you want to be shown most clearly and go for it.

When your shape is drawn and positioned the way you want it, right-click the layer and choose “Rasterize Layer”. Then, click once on your globe’s circle layer. Use your magic wand to select everything outside the circle. Click once on your map again, and hit the backspace key on your keyboard to remove all the “extra” stuff. (See the second Illustration attached to this article)

  1. Create Polar Caps: Our last step – create some white stuff at the top and bottom of our globe to represent the polar caps.

First, select the globe circle layer so that anything new will go right behind your continents. Then, select “Layer”, choose “New Layer”. Finally, use your polygonal lasso tool to draw some jagged, small caps at the top and bottom of the globe. Fill the selections with white.

And with that, you have a very cool and clean globe graphic created in just minutes.