Core Animation is the part of OS X that "simplifies" programming animation. It's not a stand-alone program. Not to get too technical, it uses the OS's underlying Quartz APIs for drawing objects onscreen. Quartz Compositor is a stand-alone program that allows for building objects and animations.
What is your final intent of the sphere graphic? Do you need just a static "3D" image for a keynote presentation? Will you require a spinning globe? Do you require light rays and interactions as it spins?
Any good graphic designer or programmer (Apple included!) will make their craft look simple. The 35 major steps in the Photoshop tutorial are a testimony to my statement! The more advanced the need, from web to print to video to HD, the more complex the project.
Here are my recommendations of places to start, depending upon your output needs:
- web: Use Photoshop to create your flat artwork then wrap it around a basic 3D object. 72dpi final is all you need. JPG if you don't need transparency, PNG if you do need to preserve transparency.
- print: I'd also use Photoshop as with web, but final artwork needs to be 200dpi to 300dpi. Same output file formats based upon transparency needs.
- video (static): Photoshop as above.
- video (animated): at this point you're taking a big leap in complexity. Unless you have an understanding of a 3D modeling program, seek out someone who does. Check with your local college's graphic arts or film department.
I wish you luck with your project. If you end up biting off more than you can chew, take a step back and try breaking the task down into simpler steps and trying again.