Wrapping a Plane around a Sphere (not "join mesh")

Is there a way to decently wrap a plane object around a sphere.

To the basics:

If I create a plane and subdivide it - say - 12 times, can I wrap this plane around a UV sphere such that the vertices of the plane can - somewhat- overlap the curvature of the UV sphere?

What I want to achieve:

I am a beginner in Blender. At the moment, I have modeled North and South America as one entire mesh plane consisting of 613 vertices/477 faces (I know, it is a lot). Can I wrap this continents around a UV sphere to create a good half of planet Earth? The purpose of this, instead of mapping the image of Earth around a sphere, is so I can animate the land to my desire.

I made my question a little longer than it should be and I apologize. Nevertheless, thanks for helping me!

~ Darren

This brief tutorial on A Better Way to Unwrap a UVSphere for Planets might be useful to you. It uses a grid but it could just as easily be an existing subdivided plane.

I would look at using the retopo tool function to smack that mesh around the sphere - should work.

download cylindrical map for planet you want - Earth mars moon
from NASA or other place and then yu simply pam it to a spere
that’s been done before and very easy with cylindrical map

and voila finish


Maybe you could use To Shere tool :slight_smile: (Mesh -> Transform -> To Sphere or simply Ctrl+Shift+S) - for more information of how to use that tool see the Manual.
Another tool that you might be interested is the Wrap tool :wink:

One problem that you could encounter is that your plane (with the continents) won’t be perfectly rounded to sphere if it doesn’t have a grid-like structure. But I can’t tell more before I could see the actual mesh.

You know, Syziph, I was thinking I have seen that function (“To Sphere”) somewhere in the Blender interface before… Now is a perfect time to see what it does! And, luckily, I forced myself to - vertex-by-vertex - make the mesh into a grid-like structure.

Are you referring to the wiki manual?

You mean the warp tool, right? The warp tool would be my first candidate, using it in the way cited in my initial reply. Using the term “unwrapping” in the title of that thread is misleading because it is all about wrapping a plane around a sphere.

Retopo would be difficult to control because it lays down the plane on the object below, not around the object. It doesn’t wrap. If I am wrong here please correct me.

g60 - yes I meant Warp tool. I often mix up warp and wrap :slight_smile: I am sorry for repetition.

Darren - yes I am reffering to the wiki manual (To Sphere). Ofcourse the description of the usage of this tool is incomplete. It can be used not only on subdivided cubes:). Basicly this tool moves the selected vertices at the surface of imaginary sphere defined by the dimensions of the selection and its center. I advize you to use the 3D cursor when applying To Sphere tool.
Here is a quick example:


So if I started out with a plane, I won’t be able to use the “To Sphere” function, correct? :frowning:
Here are some pictures of the mesh.

Syziph: How long did that take you? That sphere you have is what I want to achieve! Of course, with the continents looking more like continents, but my goal is to be able to animate the continents around and shape them into other things.

If I am unable to use the mesh (pictures above) and if I were to start over, I should go about box modeling and extrusions only along the x and y-axes?

Daren, it took me a couple of minutes to set that scene. If you mean the wire rendering of the sphere - there is very good tutorial on that (Blender Newbies)
You’ve put a lot of effort on that mesh and I think it could bend nicely to part of a sphere surface. What should you do?
1. Create a sphere in the center of the 3D world and resize it so it fits the scale of the continents. Use the mesh you’ve created for reference.
2. Now make sure that the mesh(continents) origin is at the center of the sphere (use Center cursor to place it).
3. In edid mode move the mesh (continents) infront of the sphere (they don’t have to be in the same object!) as much as close to the surface.
4. Use 3D cursor as pivot point and select all verts ont the mesh. Then apply To Sphere.
You can move the mesh forth and back and spherify couple of times until you get satisfactory result.
5. Finally to get the thicknes of the continents extrude all faces as region - RMB - then Alt+S to scale inwards.

And just because I am so lazy I got an idea how to skip the modeling (tracing) part of the continents. Again it took me less than half an hour to set all this (see the images below)
I used a world map that I’ve edited in Gimp to make it black and white and to remove all the continents except for the Americas. Keeping the initial size of the image I imported it into blender and used it as a map for a sphere. The sphere had high density of polygons something like 64x64. Then I used the Subsurf and Displace modifiers to “elevate” the continents. That is the first image.

On the second image I applied the modifiers and deleted all unnescessary faces except for the contitnents. For the high polygon mesh that remained I used the Decimate modifier to optimize it without loosing too much detail and added a sphere with smaller polygon count.
Once again that is very quick test and I think it could be improved by 100% with more thinking :slight_smile:


Crud… I cannot get this to work. I feel bad. Syziph, your steps are so clear and concise. It’s just that, I’m a beginner in blending. :frowning: I’m becoming envious of your ability to accomplish what I want in a matter of mere minutes, haha. :smiley:

Okay… Below is where I am currently at:

At the moment, when I use “To Sphere,” it doesn’t curve about the shape of the sphere but only along the y-axis. It’s like it is scaling the vertices at the centre of the mesh (even though I have all of the vertices selected).

Ah, I thought the America’s had been modeled on a rectangular plane. Looking at the model now makes me tend to agree with Craigomatic’s retopo approach. Perhaps a little difficult to retopo several continents onto a globe accurately but still a very workable approach. Interesting problem.

Just change the pivot to 3D cursor ("." on your keyboard) before using To Sphere :slight_smile:

It works! Thank you everyone! A big thanks thanks goes to Syziph, though, for not letting down and taking the time to post screenshots/step-by-step instructions to lead me through! Thanks!

Don’t mean to double post, but I could not attach by using the edit post button.
I forgot to attach a small render of how it looks, so others can probably learn from this thread:

Thanks, again, to everyone (g60, craigomatic, RickyBlender, and Syziph)!

Good job guys! Thanks for helping Darren out.

And Darren, thanks for sticking with it. I know it can be frustrating at times.

I really like Syziph’s approach on this, very nice end product!!

Hehe, the blender community strikes again!
Couldn’t this even be added to the Wiki, or he Noob to pro?

Darren, I am glad that you’ve completed this task! You said that you want to animate too, so I am looking forward to see the final product.

As I can see from the comments, everything is understandable. If somebody got the idea behind this specific workflow he or she can use it not only for placing continents on earth but for many other things.

Noob to Pro - why not? Or even better, bookmark this topic and help somebody else :wink:

hello everyone,
I’ve been having the same problem as Darren. I need to turn a plane into a sphere and animate the plane back to normal but for some reason I cant find the solution. I tried what was described in the previous posts and I must be doing something wrong. Please help me out.
Thank you so much