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The Pattern Maker

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The Pattern Maker plug-in that comes with version 7.0 and greater of Photoshop is arguably one of the most powerful tools ever to aid 2D Artists. It is so absurdly easy to use, and produces such great results, that it has quickly become very popular amongst texture developers. Let's see why.

Notice: This tutorial is advanced in nature and expects that you already know the basics of Photoshop. Also, since it's focused on texture-making, I will be using another piece of software, called Rhinoceros, to show the textures on a 3D plane. It's obviously not needed for the tutorial, but since this is texture-biased, I think you can achieve the true objective of this tutorial with a 3D program of your choice, such as 3D Studio Max, Maya, or Cinema 4D.

Step 1 - Getting Started...
The first, primordial base of every patterned texture is a good photo. Yup, really - unless the texture can be easily recreated with filters or brushes you should stick to ripping it from a photo. I recommend searching using the image directory features of Google. If you are going to work on a professional, commercial project, then you need to get yourself a good digital camera! ;). Ok, seriously, I recommend that you get a camera either way, because the ability to take your own photos gives you a creative freedom that will enhance your work greatly.

With this in mind, I'm going to start this tutorial assuming that you DON'T have a camera, and need to derive your textures from pre-existing photographs.   So, without further ado, load up the image directory on Google and type "grass" (ideally filtering out everything but the largest images - you can define these restricted search parameters in the preferences section). Choose an image that you like and load it up into Photoshop.  I picked this one:

Step 2 - Selecting The Ideal Area
Ahh! There's nothing like virgin, beautiful grass for us to work on! Okay, the trick is as follows: You have a big image and need to pattern it. The first rule is that you cannot, under any circumstances, simply select the entire image and then run the pattern maker. Patterns must be seamless, without any artefacts. You must select an area that seems to be free from distinct objects, and capable of generating a decent pattern. I have, therefore, selected this area to test:

Step 3 - Pattern Maker Options
Run the Pattern maker after selecting it from the Filter menu. Now, just some tips before we actually make the pattern:

  • Click the "Use Image Size" button. It's actually much better to fill all the canvas with the pattern than just a small selection while testing it. Trust me.
  • Since this is a texture, you should ideally do your final work with potencies of 2, for better compatibility with some engines (Crystal Space, for instance, can ONLY work with potencies of 2). By potencies of 2, I mean ensuring that your image sizes are divisible by 2 whilst maintaining whole numbers - i.e. 16px*16px, 32px*32px, 64px*128px, 512px*256px, 256px*32px, 512px*512px, etc.
  • Ignore the "offset" dropdown box. It's very useful for some kinds of tiles, but these are not an aspect of our project.
  • Now, onto what I believe that are the two most important options: Smoothness and Sample Detail. Smoothness can have values of 1, 2 or 3 - each one being a degree of smoothness in the transitions between each of the "random pieces" inside the pattern. What the plug-in does is simply cut random parts of the image out and blend them together. Smoothness let's you adjust how smooth this blending will be expressed. There are some tricks to this: Smoothness level 1 is completely "jagged" and does a really dirty job. Smoothness level 3 is usually very blurred and can smudge most of the detail out of the texture. Smoothness level 2 takes the middle road.   You will find that there are situations which require you to play around with the smoothness value a lot. While you will stick with 2 or 3 usually, a Smoothness level of 1 works great for grass.
  • The next definable option is sample detail, which works in much the same way as smoothness. The trick is as follows: The higher the sample detail, the "smaller and more detailed" the tiled cut-out images will become. This will, of course, have direct implications for the repetitiveness of the final pattern. I usually stick with low sample detail values because they work better on textures.   The lowest S.D. value is 3, whilst the maximum is 21.   I always fluctuate between 3 and 8, and very rarely use S.D's of 14 or 16. For grass, the best choice will be the one that results in lower sampling detail - it will just look more "grassy".   For this reason, I chose a sample detail value of 3.
Now it's time to see our results!

- Tutorial written by Elentor

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Last 5 User Comments

User:  sumit982073611 (#49839)
Date: Sun May 11, 2008. 09:23:33

Post #3 of 3

yes it is very well illustrated......it needs a proper steps for following these...and a patience

i hve also no idea....might be 2nd one

Reply to this post

User:  lilymoonsilver (#40035)
Date: Fri Mar 30, 2007. 18:54:56

Post #2 of 3

Very nice, detailed, and well-illustrated tut. Thanks.

Reply to this post

User:  sami1337 (#21975)
Date: Tue Dec 27, 2005. 13:23:34

Post #1 of 3

is this tutorial about isometric boards? i mean with lined of 2 pixels




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