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Quick Tip: Create Seamless Textures for Your 3D App with Photoshop

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In this quick tip, you'll learn how to use Illustrator and smart objects in Photoshop to create seamless geometric textures, which can then be used in Modo or virtually any other 3D software package.

1. Creating the Seamless Pattern in Photoshop

Step 1

To easily create seamless patterns in Photoshop you can use the power of Smart Objects. To do so, create a new document in Photoshop, its size should be your texture target size. In my case it is 1024x1024 pixels, Resolution: 72 Pixels/Inch, Color Mode: RGB Color.


Step 2

To see your texture size, add guides around the documents bounds. You can do this by dragging your cursor from the ruler bars (at the top and on the left side of the canvas) around document.


Step 3

Create a rectangle shape covering the whole image using the Rectangle Shape tool [1]. Give it Grey color.


Step 4

Change your Canvas Size by going to Image > Canvas Size and check Relative (the Width and Height must be equal.) Enter a value of 2048 pixels in both fields.


Step 5

Select the Background layer and duplicate it by pressing J on the keyboard.


Step 6

Select the two layers you have created, and from the Right-click Menu choose the Create Smart Object... command. Change the name of this Smart Object to: pattern_1.2


Step 7

Duplicate this smart object by Dragging and holding the Left Alt key. Repeat this until you will have 9 Smart Objects placed as shown in the image. You can change their name accordingly if you want to.


2. Create the Spiral Shape in Illustrator.

Step 1

Create new document in Illustrator and do the following:

  • Choose the Spiral tool [1] and drag across the canvas. You can adjust the turns by holding the Ctrl key, and the radius by holding the Alt key.
  • In the Stroke palette, add some stroke Weight to it. In my case I've used 7 Pt.

Step 2

Use the Width Tool [1] to add some variation along the path you have created. Then go to Object > Expand Appearance and convert the stroke to a shape [2]. Copy this shape and go back to Photoshop.


Step 3

In Photoshop, double click on the pattern_1.2 Smart Object to open it (you can also use the Right-click menu by choosing Smart Objects > Edit Contents.) Paste the Path as a Shape Layer from Illustrator, and give it a standard black color. Move it slightly to top, just outside the grey rectangle, as shown.


Step 4

To better see what's going on, go to Window > Arrange > 2-up Vertical. Hide all the layers below the shape and save the Smart Object using the Shortcut Ctrl+S. See how your new shape is duplicated in the rest of the Smart Objects master file.


Step 5

Now duplicate this shape 3 times, and adjust its placement on the canvas of the open Smart Object. After each transform, save the Smart Object with Ctrl+S. Adjust the placement of each shape to get your desired results.


Step 6

With the Marquee tool, select the center part of your texture. I have turned on Quick Mask to show it.


Step 7

With the selection still active, go to Image > Crop and then Merge all the Smart Objects together into a single layer. With all the Smart Objects selected, Right-click and choose Merge Visible. Now save the image as .JPG file.


Step 8

In Modo, open the default preset editing scene. Add the texture map by going to Add Layer > Image Map > (Load Image). In the Bitmap Properties palette, select the sub tab Texture Locator [1] and change the Projection Type to UV Map, and from the UV Map drop-down menu, select Texture. For the bitmap tiling options, set the Horizontal Wrap and Vertical Wrap to your liking, to make it look interesting. And that's all, you have now created a seamless pattern in Photoshop!


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