Realistic 3D Sphere with Photoshop
1. Create a new 500x500 pixel document with a resolution of 100 and name it Crystal. Now select a medium-light blue and fill the document. Name this layer 'background'.
2. Next, create a new layer and name it 'sphere'. Use the elliptical marquee tool and make a circle selection (hold shift for a perfect circle). Then select a darker shade of the background color you chose, and press X. Now select the gradient tool. Then at the top of the screen select radial gradient. Then drag from about 3/4 up from bottom, to the bottom. If you don't understand that, put your cursor at the top of the selection, move it down about a quarter of the selection, then click and drag to the bottom of the selection.
3. Now we will align the images to the center. Now duplicate the 'sphere' layer, name it 'reflection' and then load the selection. Select the rectangular marquee tool, then hold shift and tap the down arrow once, then let go of shift and tap it three more times. Then press delete. Now you have the little slice of the top of the sphere. With the reflection layer still selected, select all and then flip vertically, the sliver.
5. Now create a new layer above all the other layers and name it texture. Here you can use a variety of things for your texture but most commonly people use cloud filter cause it gives a mystical smokey effect within the sphere. To create this Press D then apply a clouds filter. Now apply a difference clouds filter once. Then apply difference clouds again anywhere from 5 to 10 times, till you get your desired effect. Then load the selection of the sphere layer and inverse the selection and press 'delete'.
6. Now load the selection of the sphere layer again and spherize the texture layer twice with settings [Amount: 100%, Mode: Normal]. Change the blending mode to 'overlay' and the opacity to 85%. Create a new layer and name it 'darklight'. Load the selection from the sphere layer and press D, then stroke the new layer with settings [Width: 7px, Color: black, Location: Inside, and leave rest to default]. With the selection still active apply gaussion blur with settings [Radius: 4px]. Then duplicate the 'darklight' layer and then merge the copied layer down. Change the blending mode to 'Soft Light'.
There you have a nice sphere. Now what you do with it is up to you. What I did was I added some Lighting Effects. Then I copied the texture layer and applied a lighting effects to it again but with an omni light and blue light. Then i erased some of it to get a desired effect. I made a reflection. Then loaded the selection from the sphere layer, filled it with black and blurred it. Skewed it and put the opacity to like 20%. Other little tweaks, made it come out quite nice.