The most powerful way to build your own seamless texture library - and addictively creative.
Building up a library of seamless textures is an important task for every designer whether you primarily work 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 the most powerful application I’ve come across in this area is Tobias Reichert’s Texture Maker 2 application.
At first sight this looks broadly similar to another of my favourite texture apps, PhotoSEAM, with the same central tile surrounded by copies so that you can simply draw over edges and anywhere on the overall pattern. And, while there are none of the advanced brushes that make PhotoSEAM stand out, you can draw rectangles, ovals, irregular shapes and freehand lines and these can be filled with solid colours, gradients or a source texture (which enables cloning).
Much more impressive is Texture Maker’s texture generation capabilities based on procedures. Central to this is the selection of nearly 50 Generator procedures which can be used to produce a vast array of realistic patterns including bricks, clouds, grids, gravel, marble, plasma, stars, water and wood. In each case the level of control is astonishing offering shared handling of colour, embossing, blending (crucial for building up effects) and so on, along with unique options for each effect. The amount of power can be daunting, but in each case a range of presets are provided and, because each procedure uses a random seed by default, you can simply click repeatedly to generate new variations.
This is just the beginning. Texture Maker also provides a vast range of procedures to apply to the pattern that you’re building up including bump-map based lighting effects, colour corrections, distortion and translation effects and various noise and other filters. In each case the procedure has been specially designed to maintain the seamless tiling of your pattern. And, if you decide to load a non-seamless texture such as an existing photograph, Texture Maker also provides a range of procedures for mirroring, blending and offsetting to make the texture seamless.
Patterns can be natural, abstract, man-made or artistic.
As you realise just how central its procedures are to Texture Maker, it suddenly dawns that those initial solid, gradient and source texture fills are themselves just procedures that are applied to your pattern. And then it clicks that this means that you can apply any of Texture Maker’s procedures (130 in all!) not just to the pattern as a whole but as a rectangle, oval, irregular shape or freehand path. In other words, you can create your brick texture and then quickly erode each brick differently, or create a caustics-based water texture and then paint on further distortion!
It really is incredible creative power and that’s just in the main Texture Maker application. Alongside this Tobias Reichart also provides a wide range of supporting tools such as the beautifully interactive Multi-Texture Mixer, the Advanced Shader for adding 3D lighting effects, the Advanced Kaleidoscope for creating symmetrical patterns, the Gentex Genetic Texture Generator for breeding and mutating patterns, the ISampler for synthesizing new textures from existing ones and the Textractor utility for pulling out textures from existing photographs. Each of these tools is cleverly conceived, seriously useful and virtually an application in its own right - and to fully get to grips with them will keep you occupied for months.
Texture Maker’s supporting tools are as impressive as the main program.
In fact in many ways that’s the biggest problem with Texture Maker: it’s so easy to get hooked building up your collection that there’s a serious danger that you’ll never find the time to actually use it.
ratings out of 6
System Requirements: Pentium II, 64Mb of RAM, Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP, 1024x768 display
This review was originally part of a longer article on building up your texture library.
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