Help mapping image to sphere and then unwrap

Sorry if question may be dumb, as I’m just a few hours trying blender.
What I wanted to do is add an image to a sphere and then unslice it afterwards.
Have seen a lot of fine working solutions using sphere and Unwrap->Sphere Projection.
However this cuts the slices in a way, which is unsuitable for what I wanted.
Goal would be to recreate a real 3D Object afterwards (e.g. inflatable water-balloon).
So the slices should look somehow like this (which I managed by adding seams, where needed):

However I would also need to wrap/project/distort the underlying image in a way, that no regions get lost.
Found an old thread, where test-dr seems to have managed this, but I could not really understand how.
Any help appreciated.


You can map image to sphere using EnvironmentTexture without unwrapping

you really do not want to use blender to make map gores
there are a lot of other tools that are for doing just that

a very basic one is the netpbm tool “ppmglobe”

or use a GIS tool

a transverse Mercator image done using Qgis


for a balloon “ppmglobe” will work just fine

ppmglobe   8   lines10.ppm   >   8gor.ppm

@Korchy thank you for your suggestion. However using this method, I don’t seem to be able to get the unwrapped image onto the slices as shown in the image in the lower left corner:

but maybe I’, missing something.

@JohnVV, thanks for pointing me to this direction. Haven’t tried using netpbm for this yet. Did some experiments using Mathematica which basically seemed to work.
However I liked the ease of use in Blender (especially letting me choose the seams and also making it easy to separate top an bottom “end caps”), including the visual feedback.
In my first link it seemed to me as if test-dr was able to also warp/bend the picture in the UV-Editor as needed. But I may be wrong.

you did not state you needed “end caps” also for the two poles

have a look at MMPS

or use Qgis

qgis uses GDAL and GRASS as the backend

Thanks JohnVV, tried netpbm yesterday, worked great, will have a look to your other links as well.