Creating Seamless Set Design Textures for Vectorworks and Renderworks

Textures are like magic in the 3D for set designers. In fact they have to be magic in 3D for set designers in order to present accurate renderings of ideas to clients and stage directors. Textures can simplify modeling and rendering times and they are the paint on the walls. The image at left is a before and after image, follow along.

Textures used in creating and rendering set designs, come in two basic flavors; image based or procedural. A procedural texture is inherently seamless, that is the texture repeats infinitely, without leaving a tiling or visibly repeating pattern. Procedural textures are computer generated images created using an algorithm intended to create a realistic representation of natural elements such as wood, marble, granite, metal, stone, and others. But this post isn’t about procedural textures, maybe tomorrow.

Image based textures can generally be thought of as needing to be either world sized, like a stage backdrop or a figure or item to be used as an Image Prop, or kept small and meant to repeat seamlessly, like stone, brick water and other natural elements.. Creating an Image Based seamless texture is not something done within Vectorworks, this is a job for an application like Adobe Photoshop. There are, of course, other apps that you can use, but we use Photoshop CS5, so that will be the focus for this post.

Photoshop, like Vectorworks is a powerful program with many options and different paths to similar results. We’ll look at some of those options.

This is a challenging image to use to create a seamless texture. It was chosen to illustrate some of the challenges. The first step will be to Filter>Other>Offset the image. I generally prefer to offset the image to 50% of the height and 50% of the width. For some images that would not be best and that choice is up to the artist’s judgment.

While not appropriate here; it will kill the color that is the essence of this look, consider running the Filter>Other>High Pass filter to knock back any great changes in contrast within the image. Generally a range of about 15-25% would be appropriate. We’re going to live witht he contrast as it is all about the color here.

First, select the Healing Brush Tool and (if you’re working along here and copying these images) set the brush to about 60 pixels, 50% hardness and 40% spacing. Paint along some of the seams. Now, choose the Clone Stamp Tool and set the size to 75 pixels and 20% hardness. Press the Option Key and click to set a source for the Clone and then paint with that clone source to cover some other seams.

It is likely that you can use either of these techniques to obfuscate the seams, but that neither alone will give you all you need to successfully blend the image. Experiment with both tools and work towards a unified look. Remember to not get too close to the corners and edges as that affect the tile. Similarly, make note of areas that will be really visible attention getters in the repeat.

To smooth this tile out, I duplicated the layer, rotated the new layer 180° and set the new layer opacity to 50%. I flattened the image and saved as a JPEG. You can also save the image as a PSD for use in Vectorworks. WordPress does like the Photoshop native format, so the JPEG file is used here.

Of course, you can also create repeating patterns using Adobe Illustrator and export the Illustrator Vectors as a raster based image file, but that would be another blog post.

One more thing; a comparison of the image we just made and a repeating marble pattern. Remember, in each case these textures would not likely be used without additional elements to break up the designs. The marble works beautifully on a Solomonic Column.

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