Monday, March 1, 2004

Creating interesting textures from scrap pictures

THIS WEEK'S POWERTIP

By David Gewirtz

Every so often, I want a text to use as a backdrop for some project. Here at ZATZ, I'll often need a background for our cover images on the home pages of the magazines. While you could buy texture CDs from a variety of vendors, sometimes it's fun to create your own out of your own pictures and a few simple filters.

Here's an example. Figure A shows a picture I took of my XBox.

FIGURE A

You're looking at my well-worn XBox. (click for larger image)

Now, the reason I took the picture is simple. The camera was in my hand and I wanted to point it at something. It's not exactly art, but it was on my hard disk when I went looking for textures.

Since I often take pictures at pretty high resolution (and I have a 6 megapixel camera), I often find textures buried in the images I take. For example, if we go to full resolution on the XBox photo, as shown in Figure B, you'll notice some nice black stippling that might make a good texture.

FIGURE B

Here's some good texture material. (click for larger image)

In fact, you can see it better when I copy a rectangle from a clear space, as shown in Figure C.

FIGURE C

A simple rectangular selection gives us a nice texture. (click for larger image)

But there's a lot more you can do with this. Play around with your filters. I found that by using the colored pencil filter, shown in Figure D, I was able to create a very interesting texture.

FIGURE D

Who knew that the colored pencil could create nice textures? (click for larger image)

To be clear, I found this by simply accepting the defaults. The resultant texture is shown in Figure E.

FIGURE E

A unique texture can be derived from your photo collection. (click for larger image)

When you look at this texture, you'd never know it's from a picture of my XBox. It's a great texture, too!