Level 5 : Using Photoshop with CAD and 3D Programs

Tutorial 5-1 Creating Seamless Textures
Tutorial 5-2 Combining Renderings
More coming soon

5-1 : Seamless Textures for your Renderings

IntroductionThis level of tutorials will apply to a smaller segment of Photoshop users, but I feel that as software evolves, the lines blur between different programs. I've been using AutoCAD longer than I have Photoshop, and find that there are times when I use the two programs side-by-side. This section will show some of the techniques you can use in Photoshop to make your CAD and 3D work better. In recent versions of Photoshop, Adobe has added 3D functionality. We'll review this and show how CAD and 3D can make your Photoshop better, and visa-versa.

This tutorial will also show you how to make images that you can use as seamless or repeating textures in your 3D programs.

Pattern Maker is now an 'Optional Filter' that needs to be downloaded from Adobe - follow this link to get the filter if you haven't already installed it.

Seamless Textures
A seamless texture is an image that can repeated in a pattern, but not show edges where one image ends and the next begins. Why is this important? Imagine that you are rendering a large field of grass. If you don't use a seamless texture, your field will have repeating patterns like the the image below which uses a single image repeated to create a 2x2 pattern.

Non-Seamless texture

Note that you can see a hard edge at the midpoint (both vertical and horizontal) - now imagine this repeated 100 times in a large rendering.

Here is a grass texture based on the one above - only this time it was transformed into a seamless texture first.

Seamless texture

Wow! No seams! What a difference! This difference will make a huge improvement in your renderings. Imagine how you can use this for brick fireplaces, stucco walls, roof tiles and more. Below are the two image that were used to create the patterns above. They look almost identical, don't they?

Seamed Texture Seamless Grass Texture

Original Grass Texture

Seamless Grass Texture

Creating a Seamless Texture
Fortunately, Photoshop has a great tool for this. It saves you from manually having to do modifications to the image. This tool works best on textures that have a somewhat random pattern like grass. In this example, we'll create a stucco texture.

We'll start with this image of a standard, rough stucco texture.

Stucco Texture

I find that smaller image sizes work best with this tool. Right-click on the image above and select "Copy Image". Start a new image in Photoshop and paste the copied image. Now comes the easy part. Select the entire image (CTRL+A).

Now navigate to Filter > Pattern Maker.

Photoshop Pattern Maker

You'll see this dialog box open:

Pattern Maker Dialog Box

Press the Generate button and you see that the stucco gets 'scrambled' into a new pattern. You'll also see that you can "Generate Again" to try different patterns. When you have one that you are happy with, press OK. Wasn't that easy?

You can now use your new texture in AutoCAD or another program. To see how to use custom textures in AutoCAD, check out this tutorial that I wrote.

Tip: When you create the stucco texture, you can easily shade it to another color. Just create a new layer, fill that layer with any color and then adjust the opacity on the new layer. This is an easy way to create more textures from the one base texture.

Keep in mind that many textures created this way will have a repeating pattern of some degree. Try to keep an eye on this when are you generating your pattern.

Creating a Seamless Texture Using the Offset Filter.
Photoshop has another filter you can use to create a seamless texture. It's quick and easy, and works better for some patterns. Try this if you aren't having luck with the "Pattern Maker".

Use the same stucco image from above. Start with it in a new file. Navigate to Filter > Other > Offset.

Offset Filter

Now you'll see a dialog box come up. What you need to set is the offset (in pixels) for the Horizontal and Vertical. I usually set this to 1/2 the width of the image - in this case, +200. Pick the Wrap Around radio button.

Offset Filter Dialog

This will leave with an image that is seamless on the edges, but could have edges in the middle now.

Image after Offset

It isn't really much better for our uses, but at least the edges are working in our favor. What we can do now is use the clone tool or healing brush to remove the hard lines in the image. With a few moves, I now have a useful texture.

Seamless again

To make better renderings, you need to have seamless textures. These techniques will also help you to create custom textures to give your renderings a more unique look. Remember to use Mapping in conjunction with your materials for the best results.



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