Mediachance PhotoSEAM 1

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Brilliantly simple and creative solution for creating seamless textures from scratch or based on existing photos.

Building up a library of seamless textures is an important task for every designer whether they are working with photo-editing, vector drawing or 3D modeling apps. There are plenty free available on the Web, but there’s relatively little quality control and it’s difficult to find exactly the right texture you need for any particular job. The solution is to produce your own and that’s exactly what PhotoSEAM does. PhotoSEAM is produced by Roman Voska, the creator of the excellent Real-DRAW Pro, and it’s based on his work on another of his programs, the bitmap editor Photo-Brush. In fact PhotoSEAM is Photo-Brush but with a twist: whatever you paint onscreen is automatically seamlessly tiled.

The implementation of this is beautifully simple. The tile you are working on is presented in the middle of the screen surrounded on all sides by copies so that you can always see the overall patterned effect. The big difference is that you can simply paint over the edge of the central tile and this is automatically mirrored on its opposite side with all the visible tiles updated accordingly. In fact all the tiles are live so that you can freely paint anywhere on the pattern as a whole. It’s not just simple - it’s addictive. Especially as PhotoSEAM provides a good range of pressure-sensitive customizable brushes including PSP-compatible image hoses which make it child’s play to produce seamless textures based on multiple bitmap images such as a forest of trees or a pile of coins.

PhotoSEAM is excellent for building seamless textures from scratch but it really comes into its own for converting existing photographs. The key to this is the two-stage Tile Preparation dialog in which you first select a suitable section of your photograph and then interactively fine-tune the size, shape and angle of your tile while seeing the effect of your changes on the resulting overall pattern in real-time. This enables you to create the best starting off-point for your pattern but, even so, visible seams are almost inevitable.

PhotoSEAM is ideal for converting photographs into seamless textures.

The usual way to try and obscure these distracting grid lines is to use the Rubber Stamp tool to clone areas of the existing picture, and this is particularly easy thanks to PhotoSEAM’s ability to simply paint over the tile’s edges. You can also use PhotoSEAM’s Texture Pick command to quickly create a seamless texture from a section of the image that you can then paint wherever you want (the program also comes with a range of preset textures or you can load your own). Best of all, is PhotoSEAM’s unique Cross-Border Cloner. This remembers the areas of the image immediately outside the tile that you created on loading and enables you to clone them back in so that you are almost guaranteed naturalistic end results.

It’s another example of Roman Voska’s brilliant lateral thinking and programming and worth the price of the program alone.




Ease of Use
Value for Money

ratings out of 6

System Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP

Tom Arah

July 2004

This review was originally part of a longer article on building up your texture library.

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