In this lesson I’ll tell how to draw an object that is very often used in icons. This object can easily either spoil or improve image, the thing is in details. I’ll use 256x256px icon size in the lesson, but all the rules below are valid for any size. Perhaps only for icons in size 16×16 and 24×24, there are some features that we’ll ignore today. So, let’s start!

1. In a new file create a circle with the Ellipse Tool:   002. Form a sphere from the circle using light and shade: create new layers with the Clipping Mask Mode (Layer->Create Clipping Mask), take Radial Gradient Tool and make color circles (from color to transparency) every time using lighter color as at the pictures:

    • Penumbra area


    • light area


    • highlight area (in Overlay Blend Mode)


3. To add a reflection from the surface where globe is located, do the following:

  • create a new layer with the Clipping Mask as above
  • make selection from the base circle shape
  • apply Edit ->Stroke operation with such parameters to the new layer:04
  • deselect shape (Select->Deselect)05
  • apply Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur with such parameters:06
  • use Erase Tool to remove reflex where needed07

4. The result is a quite nice ball; it’s time to turn it into the globe. The moment of adding the continents is most important in the process of the earth drawing. You can choose a simple way, and do like most of lessons in the Internet are suggest:

  • Take a flat map of the continents
  • Put it on the sphere
  • Apply Spherize Filter


The result is acceptable but not ideal. I suggest a more complicated way, but it helps to:

  • get actual location of the continents on the ball
  • select the desired angle of planet rotation

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We need only to:

  • run Google Earth
  • select the desired angle of planet rotation
  • make Print Screen09
  • draw the continents with the Pen Tool

10115. So we have the continents, regardless of how have we got them. Now we need to give a volume as we made for the sphere. Use the same techniques and shapes, as in the first item. Prior to obtaining a similar result:

6. To make the continents more accentuated:

  • create two copies of the continents layer and clip them with the Clipping Mask to the base circle shape
  • make the first copy darker than the continents color and move it right and down to 1-2 pixels relative to the parent layer
  • make the second copy lighter than the continents color and move it left and up to 1-2 pixels relative to the parent layer
  • use Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation for darkening and lightening, or another convenient method


7. It remains only to fit our globe in an environment, in this case, the white background.

  • For the convenience merge all layers (except the background)
  • Use Curves (Image->Adjustments->Curves) to make our object more bright and saturated. Repeat curve bending like here:14
  • Now repeat the steps we carried out in paragraph 3 for the reflex, but with such parameters Stroke Width 2 px, Color #ffffff and Blur Radius 1 px.
  • And once again with Stroke Width 3 px, Color #ffffff and Blur Radius 3 px.


In this stage I’ve decided to increase highlight in new layer with Radial Gradient tool from white to transparent.


8. Add shadow, as if our globe lies on a white flat surface

  • Create several ellipses in new layers with the different transparency17
  • Blur them with Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur (bigger blur radius for the bigger ellipses). Remove the excess using Eraser Tool with the soft edges as shown
  •  Apply multiply blending mode to all layers with shadows
  •  Achieve the desired effect with the layers displacement and changing their transparency19
  •  Remove light areas on the globe edge at the point of contact with the surface using the same Eraser Tool20
  •  Darken the globe in the place of contact with the surface21

9. Enjoy the result 🙂


1 thoughts on “How to create the globe icon in Photoshop”

  1. Wow, Olga! I just found this and this is amazing! Great job! I’m definitely going to try the techniques that you have shared here!

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