Have you ever come across a photo like this one and wondered how it was created? It’s made possible by a photo effect many refer to as Tiny Planets. While that’s not an official term by any means, it certainly captures the overall look quite well. You’re essentially taking an existing landscape photo (sometimes panorama) and warping it to appear as a miniature planet. The effect is just downright stunning, so I finally took the time to do some research and learn how it’s done.

Creating tiny planets can be achieved in a variety of ways, but the method I prefer is very simple. The entire process actually takes place on my iPhone, all through a $2.99 app called Circular. You can download it here in the App Store. There are free alternatives available, but I have found Circular to be the best. It offers a ton of control and it’s quite responsive, too.

Opening Circular for the first time, you’ll quickly realize how easy morphing tiny planets truly is. The app provides an array of controls, including zoom, rotate, invert, flip y-axis, flip x-axis, and even repeats. Swipe your finger to the left and you’ll find even more controls. But of course, that’s just scratching the surface.

To get really creative with Circular, I urge you to experiment with the ‘Effects’ tab. This is where you can superimpose clouds, lens flares and sky objects (birds, air balloons, etc.).

There is also layers control, allowing you to manipulate any effects you apply to your tiny planet. The app is surprisingly flexible, which is why I had no problem in handing over a few dollars. I can tell the developers put a lot of thought into its design.

So, what about Android users? Circular seems to be iOS only, but you still have plenty of options to choose from. Click here to check out the current selection in the Google Play Store.