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Thread: How'd U Doo Dat? The Photoshop Tips & Tricks & More Thread

  1. #1
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night

    How'd U Doo Dat? The Photoshop Tips & Tricks & More Thread

    First, a little disclaimer. Most, if not all, of the techniques I'm gonna put on display here should work in any CS branded version of Photoshop. Anything earlier than CS1 might be a little iffy. They should also work in GIMP, but since I barely have any experience with it, you'll have to look up a tutorial to find out how to do its analogue functions.

    The ultimate goal you should be shooting for, and what I'll attempt to show you how to do through these tutorials, is making your own textures from a variety of sources. Why dig through a bunch of textures only to find one that sorta fits your needs when you can make one to your exacting specifications?

    Okay, so now that I've finally got to live my lifelong dream of using analogue in a sentence, I think it's time to get down to business. That's right! It's time to learn Photoshop! First off, we're gonna start with the most basic of basics. The one handiest tool that does just about everything, and the one tool you'll be using time and again while making textures.

    Alpha Mask Sublayers (insert fanfare clip here)

    This first tutorial will show you how to make a basic texture tileable, and works as an excellent primer to the concept of Alpha Mask Sublayers (insert fanfare clip here).

    We're gonna start off by grabbing this. These are a collection of PS brushes I find myself using constantly for blending and painting. If you end up taking to this whole texturing thing, you'll eventually find these indispensable. Assuming you've got PS installed properly, then doubleclicking the .abr should install them right away. Otherwise, you'll have to click on the paintbrush tool, go to the brush pallette at the top left of the screen, click the almost annoyingly small arrow in a circle icon, select load brush, and lead it to this file.

    Okay. Now need a common texture to work with. Go to and sign up for an account. This is where just about everyone gets their textures these days. I've got a few more I use, but CGTextuers is the major site. The free account works fine, and gives you 20 meg of downloads a day. Unless you're insistent on getting the super high res versions at all times, you should be able to grab at least 15-25 a day.

    Once you got your account, go here, and grab this texture. Get the 1600x1037 texture. Always try to go for the mid-res/high-res options. For one, I find high res textures easier to work with. And, most importantly, downscaling a big texture is no problem, you'll lose some detail, but you've still got the original. Upscaling a texture, on the other hand, obviously won't bring out any extra definition or details. Most you'll get are specklies and overly large jpeg artifacts. Might as well start bigger than what you're gonna end up using, and having your high res original lying around in case you need it for some other project.

    Alternately, if you don't feel like signing up right now, either because you're overly lazy, or just don't like signing up to random sites, then just grab it off my dropbox here.

    Now that we've got that out of the way, lets open up the texture in PS. I know, the dirt texture I picked isn't too exciting, but it'll do its job for this basic primer here. It's got enough surface detail to make it just interesting enough for our purposes. Now, pick a square section from the base you'll want to use as your texture. You don't have to worry about every edge exactly matching up for this particular texture, but try to select left and right sides that look similar.

    As seen here

    Once you grab it, hit ctrl+c to copy, and hit ctrl+n to open up a new PS doc (or go to file/new from the dropdown menu). The resolutions set in the box that pops up tells you res of your copied section off the texture. It'll look like this...


    You're gonna want to try to get your selection as close to 1024x1024 as possible. Don't expect to get it exact...that'd take about forever, and be annoying as hell to attempt, but get it close so it doesn't distort too much when you go to resize it to 1024x by going to image/image size from the dropdown menu, turn off constrain proportions, and setting your width and height to 1024. After you do all that, you should have a texture that looks like this...


    Yeah, I know this part was really basic, and most of you here probably already know how to do this 10 times over. But I wanna make sure all bases are covered before we start getting a little more indepth. Don't worry, we'll get to the fun part soon enough.

    Now you have your new texture, and it's just flat out begging to be edited. First, collapse your layer into the background by hitting ctrl+e (this collapses the selected layer to the next lower, not the whole stack, btw). Doubleclick the little picture on your background layer tab, and make it "layer 0". It's now a properly editable layer.

    Hit ctrl+a to select everything in your current layer (or draw a marquee around it, whichever you prefer), hit ctrl+c to copy, and ctrl+v to paste your selection into a new layer. Yeah, I'm big on keyboard shortcuts. You should be, too. It'll save you a metric shit-ton of time (pardon my language :P).

    Okay, now you have your two duplicate layers, all looking like this.

    Remember that fun stuff I mentioned we'd eventually get to? That moment has now arrived!

    First, we're gonna offset your texture. Do this by going to filter/other/offset. Offset it by 512 on x, and 512 on y (half coordinates of your texture resolution. Your end results will look like...


    A perfect cross center of your currently untiled texture.

    Now for the magic. At the bottom of your layer tab column, you should see a little square with a circle in it, that looks like:

    This is your All Layer Mask button. Study it. Stare at it. Remember it. Make love to it if you have to. You'll be using it quite a bit in the future. With layer 1 selected, hit that button, and you'll see a smaller white box appear in your layer tab. That's your alpha mask sublayer (insert fanfare clip here). Your new best friend.

    A quick primer on alpha masks. They're pretty much alphas as you expect them to be, but applied per layer, instead of all encompassing, like it would be in the alpha channel in channels tab. It works exactly how you probably already know alphas work in games. White is completely transparent, black opaque, and all the shades of grey represent different strengths of transparency.

    So you've got your offset texture, and your alpha mask applied, lets make this texture tileable. If you installed the brush set I sent you, then go into your brush palette, and look for this particular brush. It has a nice feathered edge, and isn't perfectly a hard black and white, so blends with it's surroundings nice and smoothly. Perfect for what you're about to do.

    Now, with your brush selected, choose black from your color swapper (when you're in an alpha mask, your color swapper will always default black and white, but you can change it to shades of grey. Also, Hit X to switch between the two), and start painting along your seams. Play with the size of the brush to work in finer details if you need to. Basically, just start painting, and you'll immediately notice it blending in with it's surroundings. Paint the seams, paint in the surroundings so it all matches up without any jarring terminations, and flip between black and white to bring out any details you might want to add from the layer beneath. In about 30-45 seconds, you will have a nice, tileable dirt texture.

    Literally and quite simply as easy as that.

    Here's my finished product. Notice I didn't stick to just the seams. I blended in some of the surroundings, too.

    Now collapse layer 1 to layer 0, use the offset filter again, and look for any tiling issues that might've arisen from your initial go. If everything looks good, then a new dirt texture is born.

    ...and a link to my .psd file in case you want to check out what I've done

    There are still a few problems with this particular texture. Namely that it's obviously tileable, even within the same single texture. Throw in a few iterations within a game engine, and you'll really notice the repetition. This is just a quick and dirty example, though, good for the sake of this tutorial. You'll obviously want to spend some extra time on your textures. The good news is that you could use this exact same technique to fix up any problem you have. You can even go in and blend other textures together on different layers to achieve just about any result you want. Hence the reason why it's your new best friend.

    And thus ends Part 1. Your intro to tiling using Alpha Mask Sublayers (insert fanfare clip here). If I messed anything up, you have any questions, or you have any suggestions to add, feel free to comment below.

    Part 2 will cover color tweaking, and detail sharpening.
    Last edited by Renzatic; 12th Sep 2011 at 13:45.

  2. #2
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    I'm fascinated by textures and have tried a few tutorials but didn't understand what I was doing or reading so failed miserably. I've read through your post and understand every word so I'm really looking forward to trying this out tomorrow, always supposing my Photoshop is the right one.

  3. #3
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Before we get to part 2, I figured I'd post some of the back and forth Q&A between Scarykittie and I. He (she? damn gender ambiguous screen names ) does ask some pertinent questions that most anyone new to Photoshop and texturing would want answered. They also lead into the second tutorial I posted for him (her?...damnit ), and I threw in a few extra techniques he (she) could use along the way.

    I'm gonna be posting these one at a time, so it flows a little better. Also, I'll be doubleposting like a mad mofo here. If I get banned, you'll know why. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarykitties
    How do I make textures not obviously tiled? You mentioned how this texture would look obvious when tiled. How can I avoid it being so obvious?
    That comes with practice. Once you've played around with it a bit more, you'll get good at seeing stuff that'll stand out on your texture, and obviously repeat whenever you tile it unbroken across a large surface. To get all sciency for a second, the human eye is incredibly good at discovering patterns out of otherwise random noise. So anything that draws attention to itself, a cluster of cracks, a certain color that stands out a little more from the background, ect, will become immediately apparent. The only way to avoid it is to learn how to work in your details while keeping the whole texture as neutral as possible.

    It's a balancing act, and sometimes you can't win it no matter how hard you try. You go too far, make it too neutral, and you'll probably ruin whatever detail drew you to the source texture to begin with. Don't work with it enough, like you want to save some specific detail, and it'll obviously pattern out.

    You gotta think of how you're gonna use your texture. Sometimes you can get away with a texture with alot of unique details, because you'll be breaking it up with environmental tidbits, or using it by itself. Like a plaster wall with an obvious chunk taken out of it, showing the framework underneath. It won't matter if it patterns, because you'll have it surrounded by other textures and environment props. A rocky cliff face, on the other hand, needs to be fairly neutral, looking rocky and natural without having any huge standout details, since it'll cover a huge amount of space that probably won't be broken up by much of anything.

    It's all about learning when and where, how and why. And that only comes by doing stuff and seeing how it turns out.

    Quote Originally Posted by nickie View Post
    I'm fascinated by textures and have tried a few tutorials but didn't understand what I was doing or reading so failed miserably. I've read through your post and understand every word so I'm really looking forward to trying this out tomorrow, always supposing my Photoshop is the right one.
    Heh. No one knows what they're doing when they first start out. Photoshop isn't exactly the most user friendly program in the world, and there isn't a damn single thing in it that's readily apparent at first glance. Everything I'm gonna be imparting here is stuff I've either picked over the last 5+ odd years by either experimenting and seeing how it turns out, or by reading tons and tons of tutorials.

    Photoshop is so complicated that even now, when I can say I'm fairly adept at it, I'm still picking up on stuff I didn't have even the barest hint of an inkling of beforehand. It's a very versatile piece of software...sometimes a little too much so.
    Last edited by Renzatic; 12th Sep 2011 at 14:23.

  4. #4
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night

    More Letters From The Scarykitties Correspondences

    First...I kinda hope Scarykitties doesn't get too mad at me showing off some of his earlier attempts. I kinda need them though, because this particular texture (or a later rev of it) features heavily in the next big tutorial section.

    To his benefit, textures like this, ones with very specific unbroken lines that need to look just right to come off convincing, can be a pain in the ass to tile. His first attempt is pretty damn good, all things considered.

    What I mentioned in response does need to be covered, though, so I'm gonna have to risk his potential wrath (sorry, man :P)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarykitties
    How's this one?

    I wanted to try my hand at cracks.
    You could use a little more work on this one. You're left/right transition is decent (though I'd suggest strengthening and connecting the cracks up a little more around there), but your top and bottom is way too obvious.

    Using the clone tool, or grabbing a crack from another part of the texture using the polygonal lasso, then blending it in with its surroundings using an alpha would work here. Or if you really want to get adventerous, a combination of both.

    Actually, this would be a good time to tell you about what all the big pro type guys call Nondestructive Editing. See, say you use your clone tool to paint in a new crack. After a bit of poking and prodding, you kinda realize you don't like the end results. But...guess what? You've changed your base texture. Unless you saved your texture before you started making changes, you're well and screwed. But what if you've made changes elsewhere you actually like? Do you want to lose those changes too? The only thing you can do is edit and reedit until you get something kinda close to the original.

    What you want to do instead is get into the habit of making a new layer every time you intend on making any large changes. Want to use the clone tool? New layer. Add in some extra detail from another texture? New layer. This way, you can always go back and change something specific at any time, rather than going on all out on a single layer, and being stuck with the changes.

    By default, the clone tool will only grab samples from the current layer. If you want to change that, then when you have it active, look towards to the top of the screen next to Aligned Samples. You'll see a dropdown box that says "current layer". Click it, and select either "current and below", or "all layers". You can change this depending on how specific you wanna get. For this, "current and below" will work just fine.

    One cool thing is that the clone tool is pretty intelligent with what it grabs. If you have a bunch of other clone tool painted layers below it, along with some alpha masks, the clone tool will take all that into account, and grab samples based on what you see, not how it's layered up.

    The only downside to all this is that it can occasionally be confusing when you've got a ton of layers along with a ton of alpha masks. There might come a time when you alpha one layer, but don't see any changes because the alpha mask above it is blocking it out. But once you play around with it a little bit, you eventually get used to it, and learn how and when to compensate, or when it's the best time to collapse layers into each other so you can work on something else.

    Okay, so back to the subject at hand. Make another layer, grab the clone tool, set it to current or below, and start cloning away. If you want to, you can use the magnetic lasso to grab whole bits and pieces, and clean up some of the sloppier bits with the clone tool. Don't worry about getting things to match up perfectly just yet, only get close enough. Once you have something you're happy with, make another mask on that layer, and blend the edges together. This gives you much more control over the end results than the straight up alpha mask hope-it-all-lines-up approach you're already well accustomed to. For structural details and manmade objects, you'll be using this quite a bit.

  5. #5
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    And now...Tutorial 2. I'm obviously responding to Scarykittie directly here. But you can all pretend I'm referring directly to you. Help build some rapport.

    Color Tweaks, Adjustment Layers, and bringing out details using (what I call) a High Pass Overlay.

    First, the verymost basic tweaks you will do to all your textures: levels.

    The best way to explain levels is to say that it's a way to optimize the colors in your textures. When you first fire it up, you'll have a graph showing where your texture is strongest, and where it goes weak. I'll use your cracked dirt texture as an example here. It has a narrow range of strong colors, and alot of empty color space dragging down of your texture. If you go to image/adjustments/levels, you'll get this graph here...

    See those 3 little arrows along the bottom? That's what you use to determine the range used by your texture. The leftmost one tends towards black and bold the farther right you drag it, the rightmost tends towards white when you drag it left. The centermost arrow allows you to tweak the base color lighter or darker within the range of the other two pointers. Play with it a bit, and you'll see what I mean. The end result is your colors will pop out. Anything that looked sorta neutral colored will tend towards more boldness. Like your dirt texture is sort of a paleish brown. It'll be a nice, vibrant baked earth red when you adjust your sliders to narrow on the higher ranges. Such as...

    All other colors will pop as well, giving it more contrast, and will look better overall. Game engines in general seem to be able to do more with textures that are vibrant and contrasty, as opposed to pale and neutral. This is a good example of the difference a simple level application can make to a texture...


    Much better, right? But what if you like the vibrancy, but still preferred the older, browner color of the original? We'll get to that later. For now, lets take what you learned about levels, and apply them to application layers.

    Okay, first off, what's an application layer? Well, when you use levels from the image/adjustment menu, it's a one-time, permanent application. If you discover you want to go back and change it later on, like after you've made another 50 changes to your texture, you'll see it's no longer in your history menu. You're stuck with what you got. An application layer lets you make that change and apply it ever-editable layer. It'll level off every layer below it, and will always be there to tweak, change, or even delete at a later point. It's yet another example of that nondestructive editing thing I was talking about earlier.

    So how do you apply it? Easy. From your menu at the top, go to layer/new adjustment layer, and select which one you want to use*. You've got a ton to choose from, but we'll choose levels since it's our most recent subject. You'll get a new layer, "level 1"


    *(addendum. For anyone using CS4 and above, you now have a new box with an adjustments tab on it situated just above the layers tab. Everyone else has to go to the dropdown menu)

    All of your adjustment layers will have an alpha mask applied to them right out the gate. I guess it's so it'll tempt you to do cool stuff like this...


    ...yup. If you don't want something leveled off, you can just mask it out. Handy. As. Aw. Hell. Naw.

    But what if you start adding in details culled from other textures, and you find you want to level it out using an adjustment layer without affecting the layers below it? That's an easy answer, too. I'll go ahead and add a plank board in on top of your dirt texture. I'll mask it in, add a layer effect drop shadow to blend it into the scene, then add a level adjustment layer above it.


    Well, that leveled out the board, but it screws up the color of the dirt. So, what do you do? Well, just hold down the alt key, and click between your plank and the adjustment layer. When you see your cursor turn into what looks like two little dark circles stacked on top of each other, then left-click, which'll offset your second level layer, and show a little downpointing arrow along the left side of the tab. You've now made your first clipping mask, and that level layer is now applied exclusively to the plank layer, and won't affect anything else.


    (Little addendum here. This handy trick is useful for situations far beyond adjustment layers. Like you want to add detail on some certain thing, but nothing else. You can just clip it to your intended layer, and there you go. I greatly suggest experimenting with it)

    And thus, your primer on adjustment layers.

    We've still got more to do, though. Like remember when you got all gripey, and complained that you thought the dirt was a little too red? No problem. We can use a multitude of approaches to fix that. Since we're already on the topic of adjustment layers, lets throw a hue and saturation one into the mix. Go back to layer/new adjustment layer, and throw in the hue and saturation above your dirt texture, but below the level layer. When you click on it, you'll find that it lives up to it's name, allowing you to adjust...wait for it...hue, saturation, and lightness. Don't play with lightness too much. It has a tendency to wash out details. Overall brightness is better adjusted in your levels. brown

    So now that you've got a more browish patch of dirt, you're finding that it isn't quite as vivid as was before. Oh well, you can fix that no problem. Just go back up to your level adjustment layer, and play with the middle slider until it looks good to you.

    ...and here you go

    Wow. Those adjustment layers really are about damn handy, aren't they? Tweakable at any time, and all without making any permanent changes to your base texture.

    Like I said before, this is only one method you can use to change texture coloring. This particular technique is the one I tend to use the most, though, so I figured it'd be best to focus on it first and foremost.

    But say you want to bring out and sharpen up your overall details. Make them pop a little more. You have two options to do this.

    1. Sharpen. Ehh. It's destructive, and doesn't always look all that good.


    2. High Pass Overlays

    So, an explanation. When you've gone down to your offset filter, you probably saw high pass in there amongst all the other filters...and probably didn't pay much attention to it. That's a shame, because the high pass filter has a multitude of uses. Basically what it does is tries to normalize the colors on a texture by bleeding out the contrast. It does this by making everything tend towards this sorta chromatic looking bluish-grey color. You can adjust it's strength. High up only makes subtle changes, lower just makes the texture look flat out weird. It's a hard to thing to explain. You'll see what I mean when you play around with it.

    What it's good for by itself is taking details that stand out, and normalizes them to their surroundings. It's rarely every a one hit fix-all. You'll have to use your masks and everything to really get the most out of it. But it is useful.

    We're gonna be using it for another little trick. Bringing out details.

    To do this, make a copy of your base texture, and place it just above it. Go to your layer filters dropdown, and choose overlay.

    Whoa. Holy crap! That looks kinda neat.

    Yeah, the effect of doing this is sorta similar to leveling out your texture. I don't use this much, because you don't have as much control over the end results. Sometimes though, you get something cool, which you can use if you feel like it. But we're gonna be doing a little something more.

    With your new overlayed layer selected, go to filters/other/highpass. You'll immediately notice the difference. The blacks and whites are being overlaid with the little details, and the slight gaussian-like blurring is popping them out, defining edges, giving everything a little more crispness. You generally want to stay along the far left side of the slider, only adding just enough definition. Anything more starts looking a little garish. For the sake of example, though, I'm gonna go completely against instructions, and jump the radius up a bit more to show it off.


    And there you go. A colored up, brighter, more defined texture. I went ahead and tweaked it out a bit to taste. Here's a nice before and after shot to show it all off (downsized slightly)

    ...and since I'm pretty sure you'll want the source .psd to play with, I'll go ahead and post it up here.

  6. #6
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Okay. Last little bit here before I head out. I'm gonna eventually work on a tutorial to make what I'm about to post below. Since this texture is basically an extrapolation of the techniques above, it should be pretty easy for a newbie to look at the tuts, look at the layer stack, and figure out what I did.

    This new tutorial will eventually show you how to go from this... this...

    (source 1024x .psd file here)

    For those of you who might want to figure this out on your own (which I heartly recommend everyone try. You'll learn more this way), here's a rundown on the creation of this little slimy brick wall.

    I used no brick textures. Instead, I used generic surfaces, such as flat concrete, lumpy concrete, cracked rock, a fungus covered metal sheet, a weather-streaked metal sheet, , a moss texture, and a black and white grungemap I found somewhere way back in the day. All I did was do a quick tile of these textures, lay them out appropriately, use my layer filters, and let the alpha mask define the shape of the bricks. There are a couple of things I did that I haven't explicitly covered yet. But like I said, if you look at what I said above, combine it with layer opacity, and apply that to some of the stuff I did within the .psd file, you'll figure out what I did.

    The only thing that might confuse you all is how I did the shadow layer. I'll get into that later. For now, the hint is gaussian blurs, and the alpha base. It's pretty simple once you get your head around it.

    Okay, and a quick primer on where all the layer stuff is, then I gotta head out for a few.

    For those not in the know, here's a quick and cheap diagram of the layer window. You'll be using these quite a bit.

  7. #7
    This is a good thread and you should feel good.

  8. #8
    NewDark 64³ Contest Winner
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Locked Inside Dromed
    I was working on something today, though I'm not sure if I want to clog this thread up too much, because I use GIMP, and it's probably not too good to refer to two graphic programs in the same thread.

    However, I prefer you're trick of offsetting and blending into the original, untouched layer on the bottom. I can't believe I've done so many textures and didn't even think of that.

    Actually, I guess I was doing it the opposite way, so that at this step of offsetting, with the clear vertical line:

    I'd add a layer mask over top, just cropped out from elsewhere in the picture:

    and then merge the top layer into the bottom, using a blended layer mask, and thus it's tiled vertically:

    The other thing I've noticed with tiling is that the eye seems to look for imperfections in the center of the image, because it assumes that this is where the tiling happens. So if you offset by something other than half (like for instance in the top picture), it tricks the eye. From my experience too, the eye also seems to 'look for' straight lines leading up-down or sideways, and assume that this is where the tiling happened, and this breaks the illusion of the tiling.

    It's hard to describe, but in these images, it maybe makes it clearer. For instance, in this one, even though it's tiled, my eye is actually drawn immediately to parts that inadvertently break the illusion of the tiling:

    For instance, these are the parts where my eye is drawn--it is looking for vertical lines to break the illusion of the tile:

    So I fix it by cropping out a layer mask and blending it in (as I did with the first set of images), until there are no obvious vertical lines:

  9. #9
    NewDark 64³ Contest Winner
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Locked Inside Dromed
    Renzatic, with your upcoming tutorial of turning the blank tiles into an image, that's the kind of the thing I did today. I was redoing an original Thief 2 texture:

    On a transparent layer, I drew out the lines using the paintbrush and then added some shading with the airbrush:

    For the background, I started with a solid color, close to that of the original image:

    and then added and merged these images overtop using the overlay and multiply modes (though I don’t know if using all three is a waste of time):

    Which gives something like this:

    Fiddling around with the contrast/brightness and hue etc., and then adding in the brick-lines layer, I end up with something like this as a final image:
    Last edited by Xorak; 13th Sep 2011 at 00:16. Reason: Had to double post, too many images

  10. #10
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Well I did Part 1 today. Your instructions are really good and idiot-proof, Renzatic. I've no idea whether what I did is any use at all as I can't see much difference between the start and end product but I feel I achieved something in being able to follow the process!

    I managed to find the original cracked earth texture and started messing with that as well and will have a go at Part 2 over the next couple of days.

    Thanks for all your hard work in putting this together - I'm really enjoying myself.

  11. #11
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Xorak View Post
    I was working on something today, though I'm not sure if I want to clog this thread up too much, because I use GIMP, and it's probably not too good to refer to two graphic programs in the same thread.
    I'd suggest the opposite. I realize not everyone has the cash to buy Photoshop, and might have some issues know...acquiring a cheap-as-free copy. Plus, I wouldn't want to exclude anyone from showing off some neat technique simply because they're not using the same program I am.

    So post away. I can change the name of the thread to "The Big Ass Texturing Tutorial Megathread". We can label our tutorials as Photoshop or GIMP specific at the tops of our posts to avoid any confusion that might arise.

    The only thing I'd suggest is for you to take fullscreen shots of the GIMP interface while you're working, so newbies can discover what does what, and how the process looks inside the editor.

    However, I prefer you're trick of offsetting and blending into the original, untouched layer on the bottom. I can't believe I've done so many textures and didn't even think of that.
    Hehe. I felt about the same way when I first discovered how to do it in a tutorial a couple years back. I mean it's so obvious and simple, I almost felt dumb for not coming up with the idea on my own. Definitely one of those palm to the head moments.

    Actually, I guess I was doing it the opposite way, so that at this step of offsetting, with the clear vertical line...
    Actually, I still do some textures like this on occasion. There are moments when you want to see what you're masking into, rather than blending it into the texture underneath. It's my preferred method for uneven brick walls, where I'll take whole vertical chunks, or even take individual bricks if it's really complicated, and mask them in like that.

    There's no one quick-and-easy solution for everything out there. It's good to have a variety of techniques, or variations of previous ones, so people new to it all will have a better idea of how to approach specific problems.

    I'm actually glad you covered it, cuz now I don't have to. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie
    Thanks for all your hard work in putting this together - I'm really enjoying myself.
    Hey, glad you like it.

    If you've got any questions or anything, then fire away. As for the brick tutorial, I'm gonna have it up by this weekend. Thursday or Friday at the earliest. I'd already have it done, but I'm swamped this week, so I'm usually wore ass out by the time I get in front of the computer.

  12. #12
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    While I was typing up the start of my brick wall tut, I came to realize that I was using a lot of little tricks I hadn't explained up to this point. I figured I'd put it on hold, and give a semi-indepth explanation on some of the useful tools in the toolbar. It's something that needs to be covered anyway, so I might as well do it now.

    The Toolbar Explained

    edit: color selection tols?

    Now you'll notice that some of the tools have a little black notch along the bottom right of the icon. That means there are multiple subtools under this selection. You access them by rightclicking. I'll go through each one of them one by one.

    1- The Move Tool

    Pretty Self Explanatory. With nothing selected, it'll move whatever you have in a selected layer. If you marquee select something, it'll move that. Yeah, I know. No crap. But hey, I said I was going indepth here.

    You can also do precise moves using your arrow keys. Hitting one will move it one pixel in the selected direction. Holding down shift and the arrow keys speeds it up, jumping about 5-10 pixels per step.

    2 - Marquee Selection Tools

    Rightclicking gives you 4 subtools. Rectangular, Elliptical, Horizontal Row, Vertical Row. These are all pretty self evident here. Playing with them for 5 seconds will give you a better idea of what they do than any wordy explanation I can give.

    But there are some handy tricks that aren't very obvious, such as being able to tailor your selection. So, breakdown time.

    Without an active marquee up, holding down alt will grow out a uniform selection from the middle of your mouse pointer. Not too handy with the rectangle, but almost necessary with the elliptical marquee.

    With an active marquee up, holding down shift while you draw out another marquee adds to the selection, and alt subtracts from it. This is good for selecting something difficult, or making weird shapes to fill in like this...

    So handy! Also, you can grow, shrink, feather, or invert selections by going to the select dropdown menu at the top of the PS window. You have quite a few tools available to fine tune your marquee selections...and you'll use em.

    Oh, and holding down alt while a marquee tool is active temporarly activates the move tool, so you don't have to switch back and forth constantly.

    3- Lasso Tools

    Yet another selection tool, but more freeform than the marquees. Lasso lets you draw a selection, polygonal lets you block one in one point at a time for more exacting selections, and magnetic tries to follow shapes and patterns.

    FYI, the magnetic lasso is annoying as hell to use. You have to draw along your intended selection sllllooooowwwwly for it to align to your intended target. But what if you sneeze? TOO BAD! You're screwed. Start over again from the beginning. Hope you got a steady hand. Don't use it unless you hate yourself, or really love tedious BS.

    4 - Quick Selection Tools

    The much ballyhooed magic wand, and the namesake quick selection tool. Weirdly enough, I've never much used the quick selection tool, but the magic wand is handy for any number of situations. Want to select a range of colors across your texture? Want to grab the white space surrounding a tree limb so you can cut it out? With a few tweaks to sensitivity, you can use the magic wand to do just that.

    ….though you do have to really fine tweak the settings to get it exact. Like say you want to select a leaf to use as an alpha mask. Unless your source is a lossless file type, it's sometimes better just to paint it out by hand, as the magic wand can and will pick up jpeg artifacts.

    5 - Crop and Slice Tools

    Another self explanatory set of tools. They're useful for some things, I guess. Mostly, I just marquee and ctrl+x or c and v to copy and paste.

    6 - Color Selection Tools

    I should've called this category the Miscellaneous Stuff Tools. The one you'll use the most here is the eyedropper tool, which lets you grab a color from your picture and applies it to the color switcher for later use. As for the other tools?

    Color Sample Tool – for those moments when you absolutely need to know the exact RGB specifications of the targetted color. There's probably more to this tool than I realize, but for now, it seems more a tool for the anal retentive among us.

    Ruler Tool – Measures stuff. How many pixels wide is this? ...oh.

    Note Tools – lets you write love letters to yourself so you can find them later and cheer yourself up.

    7 - Quick Fix Tools

    For when you need something fixed quickly.

    Spot Healing Brush Tool – Lets you paint over a section of your picture, and blends it in with the surrounding pixels. Good for blending when used in small doses.

    Healing Brush Tool – Like the spot healing brush mixed with the clone tool. You alt-click to define a point elsewhere on your picture, then paint somewhere else. It'll take that point of reference, and blend it with the underlying area of your picture. It's useful for some things, I guess. Truthfully, I rarely ever use any of the tools here.

    Patch Tool – Does this neat looking thing that I can find absolutely no use for. Sort of like a lasso selection mixed with the healing brush tools.

    Red Eye Tool – Just like Visine. It gets the red out.

    8 - Drawing Tools

    Brush Tool – Wot you paint with.

    Pencil Tool – Almost exactly like the brush tool, but it seems...I dunno...more exact somehow.

    (interesting little aside on the brush and pencil. If you want to paint a straight vertical or horizontal line, hold down shift, and start painting. As long as you hold down shift, you won't be able to paint in any other direction. Alternately, you can hold down shift, click a dot on one point, and click in another, and PS will draw a line directly to the second dot.

    Color Replacement Tool – Normalizes the color of your picture to whatever color is selected in your color swapper. Like say you have a blue section you want to paint red, but still keep your shading, and variation of colors. You'll use this tool to do just that. I honestly don't think I've never found a use for this tool. Your mileage may vary, though.

    Mixer Brush Tool – Takes the color on your switcher, and blurbs it in with the pixels you're painting on. Sorta like painting with wet oils. Good for smearing stuff.

    9 – Stamp Tools

    Clone Tool – Alt-click to select a point of reference, and lets you paint that reference elsewhere on your picture. A very very very VERY handy tool for texturing. Use it with a soft brush, and you can blend and add variance to a lot of stuff.

    Pattern Tool – Lets you select a pattern from the pattern palette, then paint it in. Good for something, I guess. I never use it.

    10 – History Brushes

    History Brush – Say you did a lot of work in a specific area, but you don't like one specific change in that specific area. Use the History Brush to paint in that specific area to go back to earlier changes without affecting all your changes. If you've ever seen a photo that's mostly in black and white, but has a color subject, this is the tool they used to achieve that effect. Now you know.

    Art History Brush – Same as History, but I believe only applied to changes made with brushes, pencil, and maybe the paintbucket. I don't think I've ever used this tool even a single time, so I dunno exactly what it does.

    11 – Eraser Tools

    Eraser Tool – Pretty self explanatory. Erases what you paint over, and leaves a trail of whatever your subcolor is on your color switcher.

    Background Eraser – Same as the eraser, but it cuts through the image, and leaves a swatch down to the layer below.

    Magic Eraser Tool – Like the eraser mixed with the magic wand. If you need to delete large swaths of colors, then this is your tool.

    12 – Paintbucket/Gradient

    Paintbucket – Everyone knows what this is. Dumps color all over your picture. Per pixel if you've got the tolerace set tight, or whole areas if it's loose.

    Gradient Tool – This tool is easy to understand, hard to explain. You select a gradient pattern, and draw out a line of whatever length. PS will apply the gradient to the length of the line you drew. Good for painting some shadows, or adding curvature to a flat object.

    13 – Sharpen/Blur/Smudge

    Sharpen – Like applying the sharpen filter to whereever you paint. The more you paint, the more you sharpen. Good for bringing out details and highlights on specific areas. Use in moderation.

    Blur – Like applying the blur filter to whever you paint. The more you paint, the more you blur. Good for blending harsh edges together. As with sharpen, you want to use this in moderation.

    Smudge – Takes the pixels whereever you paint, and pushes them into each other. Think of it as sorta like pushing your finger through a wet painting.

    14 – Dodge/Burn/Sponge

    Dodge – Whitens where you paint. Why they call it dodge, I have no idea. Good for painting highlights directly on your picture

    Burn – Opposite of dodge. Darkens where you paint. Good for painting shadows.

    Sponge - Kinda sucks the color out of the pixels you paint. Kinda. Hard to explain.

    15 – Pen Tools

    Think of these as a small selection of vector tools from Adobe Illustrator. All of these are good for drawing in detail frames, or defining a mask to make fine selections. I only use these on rare occasion.

    Pen Tool – Lets you define edges with Bezier Curves.

    Freeform Pen Tool – Same as the Pen Tool, but you don't draw point to point. You just draw, and it makes a vector.

    Add Anchor Point – For the Pen Tool. If you need another curve in there, use this

    Subtract Anchor Point – Deletes an anchor point if you don't need it.

    Convert Point Tool - As far as I can tell, it lets you reedit an anchor from scratch.

    16 – Text Tools

    I ain't gonna go indepth with these. You need to type words on your texture? Use your text tools.

    17 - ...something

    Well, after playing around with my pen tools, I figured out what these tools are. They let you select specfic stuff on your vector drawings. Wow, I learned something new!

    18 – Marquee Fills

    MS Paint in Photoshop. You get a bunch of shapes, you draw them, and they either make a line drawing of varying thickness, or a solid shape. Great for defining basic shapes on a future texture map.

    19 – Grab/Rotate Canvas

    Grab is good for scrolling through your picture when you're zoomed in. It's the default left-click application when you're using a pen tablet. Rotate Canvas lets you...yeah, rotate your canvas around. If you find yourself wanting to paint something, but find it more comfortable to paint in a certain direction, then use this to...yeah, rotate your canvas around.

    20 – Zoom

    I don't need to explain this. But for the sake of completion, I'll explain it.

    It lets you zoom in and out of your picture.


    Whew, holy shit. It took me an hour and a half to write this out. Hope you all find it useful.
    Last edited by Renzatic; 14th Sep 2011 at 06:00.

  13. #13
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    In my dream world I have 100% internet access. In my real world it comes and goes so I'm busy saving all the pictures and instructions so I can compare and try things out whenever I'm internetless again. It'd be great if, whilst you're putting this together and when you get to the end, you'd consider saving text and pictures in a format which could be downloaded and saved as was done with the architectural tutorials made way back by somebody (I don't have my usual pc with me so can't check who it was) which I endlessly refer to. (Or, to which I endlessly refer.)

    And please don't worry about going through basics, at least as far as I'm concerned. I know, and have, found information through searching but it's so nice to have it all in one place and I've already learnt a whole heap about PS that I didn't know!

    I read your post about the cracked earth and
    You could use a little more work on this one. You're left/right transition is decent (though I'd suggest strengthening and connecting the cracks up a little more around there), but your top and bottom is way too obvious.
    Although I understand a little of what you're saying I would find it really helpful if it was possible to do one that worked and one that wouldn't/didn't. In other words, 2 pictures of good/bad. Would that be a pain in the neck? I do quite a bit of testing and have noticed textures where one bit stands out from the rest and being repeated, is very obvious, but I can't relate that to the cracked earth picture.

  14. #14
    Registered: Jul 2009
    Location: South Dakota, USA
    I am the example of what NOT to do.


  15. #15
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by nickie View Post
    In my dream world I have 100% internet access. In my real world it comes and goes so I'm busy saving all the pictures and instructions so I can compare and try things out whenever I'm internetless again. It'd be great if, whilst you're putting this together and when you get to the end, you'd consider saving text and pictures in a format which could be downloaded and saved as was done with the architectural tutorials made way back by somebody (I don't have my usual pc with me so can't check who it was) which I endlessly refer to. (Or, to which I endlessly refer.)
    That shouldn't be too big of a problem. I'll see about converting them to a .pdf document here in the next couple.

    I read your post about the cracked earth and Although I understand a little of what you're saying I would find it really helpful if it was possible to do one that worked and one that wouldn't/didn't. In other words, 2 pictures of good/bad. Would that be a pain in the neck? I do quite a bit of testing and have noticed textures where one bit stands out from the rest and being repeated, is very obvious, but I can't relate that to the cracked earth picture.
    Okay. Notice the patterns of the chunks of dirt. They're all basically some variation of a square, all roughly the same size, surrounded by strong, deep cracks. With Scarykitties' tiling attempt, he connected the cracks, but didn't do too good of a job of keeping up the patterns. The end result is that you end up noticing the seams because they're a goodly bit different than the patterns in the center of the texture. It ends up drawing attention to exactly where his seams are at. Case in point....

    This is the texture tiled 2x2. Stare at it for a second, and the cross shape where the seams meet up becomes immediately apparent. And while it does tile, as in there aren't any terminations where the seams meet, the cracks suddenly go from sharp, defined lines to meandering angles. To get all Feng Shui for a second, you could say it tiles, but it doesn't flow (yeah, I know. I'm corny). He needs to add more strong cracks along those lines to define the shapes a little better. Keep it all kind of homogenous.

    Like I said before, textures like that, ones with strong lines connecting into rough, but well defined geometric shapes can be bit of a pain in the ass to tile. You have to work at them to make sure everything flows naturally from one edge to the other. He'd also run into a similar problem getting this texture to tile, for instance. It's not super difficult to do, but it does require a little more practice and patience to do right than a flat patch of dirt, or small, loose stones would.

    Edit: You all also need to keep in mind that I'm a super annoying perfectionist at the best of times, and I'll nitpick every little thing. I mean truthfully, it's a good attempt, and you probably wouldn't notice those seams ingame at all. But I did notice it, and I'm pointing it out and commenting on it, cuz I'm an ass. :P
    Last edited by Renzatic; 14th Sep 2011 at 18:41.

  16. #16
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    The Greatly Anticipated Brick Wall Tutorial

    Better late than never, huh? That's just how I roll, people. I like to keep the levels of antici...pation up. Makes you appreciate me that much more when I finally do get around to doing something.

    I'm gonna be taking a few extra unnecessary steps in this tutorial. Basically to show you some neat tricks. This'll make some steps a little more complicated than they should be, but it'll help you learn a few extra tricks, and fix a few mistakes that can arise because you pushed something off the canvas. You'll see what I mean below.

    Okay. Lets get this started! Go to file/new, and make a 1024x1024 canvas with a white background. Doubleclick your background to make it Layer 0, and add two layers above it. You're gonna do absolutely nothing with Layer 0. It's nothing more than your white background. Layer 1 will be your horizontal lines, and layer 2 will be your vertical. At first glance, this might seem like I'm going a little overboard, considering you're not going to be doing much other than drawing out a glorified grid. There's a reason for that. Say you just finished up, and find you want to move some of your future bricks around. Instead of having to erase lines and redraw them elsewhere, you can just marquee select a vertical line, and nudge it into a new position. That's obviously a helluva lot faster, and considerably more convenient.

    Now lets get to making our alpha mask. Select Layer 1, rightclick on the brush tool, and select the pencil tool. From the brush selection menu, find the size slider, and set it to 5px. Yeah, it's kinda thin. The reason we're making it so thin is because we're gonna eventually rough up the edges. For this tutorial, I don't want to have any huge gaps between the bricks.

    So with your pencil tool set up and activated, pick where you want your first horizontal line to be, hold shift, and drag right. This locks down any excess mouse movements. You can only draw a line on the Y axis. When you're done, hold down shift, and go to the next line.

    Wait...what's this?

    The fuuhhhh? This is a nice feature/bug with Photoshop. It existed in CS3, and it's still there in CS5. For some reason, when you're doing a shift-click draw, and you move off the canvas, PS still considers it active for some incredibly dumbass reason, even if you've already release the shift key and pressed it again. It'll will draw a line from the last point drawn, to the first point on the new line you're starting. If it happens (and it will), then hit ctrl+z to undo it, and start the line again. Annoying as hell, but not too difficult to fix.

    With that out of the way, go ahead and start your horizontal lines. Space them out as far apart as you want. For the top and bottom border lines, do a marquee select around one, and move it up to the top by selecting the move tool, holding shift, and pressing the up arrow. It's 5 pixels thick, so when you get it aligned to the edge, hit up 3 times sans shift to push it beyond the canvas 3 pixels. Do the same for the bottommost line, but only push it in 2px. That way it's uniform in size with the rest of the lines. When you tile it, it won't be thicker than the rest. Once you're done, collapse your two new layers back into the original by hitting ctrl+e.

    If you find one or two of your lines don't quite go edge to edge, don't worry about painting over it. Just hit ctrl+t to activate your free transform tool (I'm gonna be getting heavily into all your transforms in another tutorial), and you'll see a bounding box with 4 squares in the center of each line. Just select the box on the left, drag it past the edge of your canvas. Do the same for the right if you need to.

    One little thing you need to keep in mind is that just because you moved your lines off the canvas doesn't mean that those extra edges are now gone. They're still sitting there, waiting to screw up your eventual offset. I'll add in an extra step later to show you how to fix that.

    Alright. Now on to the horizontal lines. Select Layer 2, activate your pencil tool, hit shift, and drag down. Lets do one line that goes completely top to bottom though. This will be our brick edges that'll sit flush with the left and right sides of the texture. Take the original, select the move tool, and hit shift-left arrow to move til it's flush the edge, use the arrow keys by themselves to fine tune it. Once it's flush, hit the left arrow three times to push it in three pixels. Do the same for the right, but this time only push it beyond the canvas two pixels.

    Once that's done, activate your marquee tool, and drag it across the second row of bricks. We want it to stagger, so every other row will have the flush bricks on them. Sorta like this....

    You can either shift select each row like I did, or go through them and delete them one at a time. If you need to fine tune your select a bit, then hold alt and drag the marquee out to shave a few pixels off your selection. Once you're done, your results should look like this...

    Now, just start drawing lines between horizontal lines to make your bricks. You can make them uniform, or stagger them off a bit. I'm gonna stagger mine, since I want a rough, uneven wall.

    Try to keep in mind any patterns that might arise. Like don't put too many small bricks to one side, or group them in the center. Try to keep it sorta generic.

    If you really want to make life easy on you, then just draw one line, draw a marquee around it, copy it to a new layer, and use your move tool in conjunction with your arrow keys to move it into place. When you're done placing one, draw another marquee, copy/paste it into yet another new layer, and do the same. When you're done with one full row, collapse them down onto Layer 2, and repeat the process for the next row.

    Alternately, you can just draw them all out. Or you can constantly position them and hit ctrl+v to paste another one into the texture when you want another one. Pasting them in like that places them in a random position on your canvas, but it's arguably the quickest way to do this. Once you get a row done, then collapse all your layers back to Layer 2 to keep things from getting too confusing. If you find your lines are a little too short, then collapse a single row to Layer 3, and use ctrl+t to stretch it to fit.

    Try all these methods out to see which you prefer. If you're drawing them out and get the cross connecting lines, then do the same as you did before. Ctrl+z to undo, and redraw again.

    This is my finished wall mask. As you can see, I crowded the bricks in a little more closely this go round.

    Once you're satisified with the results, then collapse all the layers together down to Layer 0, draw a marquee around the entire thing, hit ctrl+c to copy, and ctrl+v to paste it into a new layer. Now you're probably wondering why the hell I did that. Seems like a huge waste of time, right? Well, remember when I said that just because you drag something off beyond the edges of the canvas doesn't mean it's gone? This is the reason why I did that. Due to that first transform you did earlier, you probably have your horizontal lines stretched off the edge of the canvas. That'll mess up your offset a bit. By marquee selecting the canvas, and copying it to a new layer, you're copying only what you see. Everything else off the edge has been left in the layer below it.

    Confusing? Eh...maybe a little bit at first. Stuff like this will become second nature once you get a little more used to Photoshop, though.

    So now that you've copy pasted it, offset it by 512 on X and Y to see if it looks okay. If it does, run the offset tool again to set it back to normal, delete layer 0, and rename Layer 1 to something like “Base Alpha” by doubleclicking on the layer title til it becomes editable.

    Your end results should look something like...


    Alright! Now we've got a plain, ugly grid!


    Now lets make it an alpha mask sublayer!

    One thing you're gonna discover is that you can't paste anything directly into the alpha mask from the layers tab. You can merge other alpha masks together when you collpase them, but no pasting. None. So what do you if you made an alpha mask on a regular layer? Are you screwed? Did I just totally and completely waste your time?

    ...Arguably, yeah. But you're not screwed. I'm not that mean. You can, in fact, paste anything into a sublayer. You just have to do it in a stupid, roundabout way.

    Do a Load Selection on your Base Alpha. You do this by holding control, and left-clicking on the picture in the layer. It'll draw a bounding box around the whole thing (get used to doing this, I'm gonna be using it a lot in this tutorial). Hit ctrl+c to copy it, make a new layer, apply a new mask, and go to the channels tab. See that channel at the very bottom labled “Layer 1 Mask”? That is, appropriately enough, your submask. This is what you're gonna be pasting your alpha into.

    To do this, first activate the tab by clicking the little square here...

    ...paste your alpha base into the channel, then turn it off. If you don't, you'll always see this light red overlay marking the transparent areas of your texture. It's doubtful anyone will need that. When you go back to your layers tab, you'll see your Alpha Base sitting right where it should be.

    It's roundabout and annoying, yes. But that's how you do it. I'm sure there's some very good reason for doing things this way, but hell if I know what they are. At least you now know how to do it.

    Now that we've got that out of the way, lets get back to the fun stuff. I think it's about time we rough up our bricks!

    Start out by filling your new alpha masked layer with any color you want. Preferrably something comfortable to look at, because you're gonna be staring at this screen for quite awhile. Once you've got your color, double-click on the label, and name it something easy to reference. I went with “Brick Base”. Now, disable your Base Alpha. It's only there for reference, or if you need to paste it into your alpha channel again because you severely screwed something up during the painting phase. After you do that, create a layer underneath Brick Base, and fill it with black. This is so you can have some contrast while you're painting, to see what you're doing. You'll more than likely be deleting it after you're done.

    Now things get interesting. Activate your brush tool and pick a brush. Any brush. Preferrably something with a little bit of noise to it, but without much grey, so you have a somewhat clean transition. Now start painting on your alpha, and have a ball. Round out your corners, roughen up the edges, and go to town. so

    I rotated the canvas to 90 degrees counterclockwise, because I find it easier to paint up and down than I do left and right. If you find yourself wanting to do the same, then go to image/image rotation from the dropdown menu, and select whichever option you prefer.

    Zoom in if you need to, hit X to switch between black and white to fill in or subtract details depending on taste, hold down shift if you find yourself wanting to paint in a straight line, use your ] [ bracket keys to resize your brush, and start to hack away. If you have some trouble reaching the lower bits, or the very edges, then use an offset filter. You're gonna want to use that to make sure it tiles anyway.

    It's gonna be a little bit til you're done. So be patient, and keep at it until you're happy.

    Also, this is one of those moments when it's really handy to have a tablet. If you find yourself enjoying this whole texturing thing, then go and buy yourself a Wacom Bamboo Fun. It'll set you back about $80 or so (USD), but it's worth the price of admission. It'll make your life so much easier.

    Time passes. Seasons change. The years march on. You just spent anywhere between 1 to 3 hours of your life making fake rocks.

  17. #17
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    By this point, you should have whatever color you chose permanently burned into your retinas, maybe even a cluster headache. That's the price you pay for dedication, people. You DEAL with it. Also, you should have an alpha that looks something like this...

    Not too shabby. But say you want to do a little more. Maybe scale out a few of the rocks, or rotate them to give it more of an uneven look. That's no problem. It's easily done with load selections, subtract marquees, and the oh so powerful free transform tool. Here's what you do...

    First, lets get the these bricks on their own layer. Rightclick on Brick Base, and you'll see the option “Duplicate Layer”. Do that, then make another layer right below it. Collapse your duplicate layer into that, and you'll have your bricks, nice and separated. Like this...

    You wanna do this anyway because, from here on out, your brick base is your safety net/quick selection mask. If you mess anything up, you'll always have your original to go back to.

    Now, lets select your brick.

    First, hold down ctrl, and click your alpha sub. You should get something like this...

    Notice how it selects your bricks perfectly? That's because, as far as Photoshop is concerned, a black mask on an alpha doesn't exist. It'll ignore the black, and select everything else. Very handy. You'll be using this quite a bit.

    Now, pick which brick you want to scale and/or rotate. Me? I'm gonna startoff by picking one in the middle right of the texture. Holding down alt, use your marquee rectangle to deselect everything surrounding your intended brick. magic.

    Alright, now that you've got your brick selected, hit ctrl+t. You'll see something the same transform box you saw before. But this time, I'm gonna explain how to use it in detail, instead of leaving you hanging like I did earlier.

    See those boxes? They're your manipulation points. Hovering the mouse over one of these points will change the cursor to show you which direction you can scale the selected object in. If it's pointing up and down, you can stretch it up and down, and ect. Grabbing it from a corner and holding down shift while manipulating it will force the object to scale ratio correct (in other words, it scales linear without distorting). Moving the mouse cursor farther away from the selected object changes it to the rotate cursor. You can use this for very obviously rotating the object around. Grabbing the object inside the box allows you to move it around and reposition it, and you can nudge it with the arrow keys, much like the move tool. This is a handy little thing, and you will use it quite a bit.

    What I want to do is rotate my brick a little ways to break up some of the monotony. I end up with this...

    Alternately, I could've magic wanded the empty spaces in the new brick layer, and inverted my selection by going to select/invert selection in the dropdown menu, and gone on as usual with subtracting selections with the marquee.

    Or even easier, I could've just drawn a marquee around it, and started editing it. Since there's no pixel data around it, the marquee tool will conform to the nearest group of pixels inside the selection when you go to move or edit it.

    I figured I'd do things the more indepth way to show you all some of the ways you can select items in your texture. From here on out, I'm gonna do the latter most, and drag a rectangle around anything I want to change. I'll go in, do add and subtract to finetune my selection, and transform like a mofo. If I accidentally catch any extra edges on another brick, and move it, I'll probably just use the eraser tool to rub them out.

    After about 5 minutes, this is my results....

    We've got ourselves a rough brick wall, ladies and gentlemen.

    Alright. This is getting a little overlong, so I'm gonna close it out here, and consider it part one of two.

    The next tutorial will cover adding shadows using gaussian and box blurs, and of course adding texture to your texture. See you soon.

    edit ...and a link to the .psd file
    Last edited by Renzatic; 15th Sep 2011 at 05:02.

  18. #18
    Very good initiative, Renz. I guess back when you were discussing Levels and color range you forgot to mention one very important thing, that helps maintaining coherent results for all your textures.

    Below the graph and Input levels is Output levels, which is basically upper and lower limit for values in each channel, or blackness/whiteness in Value channel. It is very important to use these limits, for your textures should never be completely black or use maximum white. This is not a photo, the image from the texture will be processed by the engine, when a light is cast on your surface or when it's kept in the shadows. Thus you must allow the engine to have some "space" for this, in order not to have your colors burned or too dark. Typically I use the value of 8 for blacks (left slider) and 224 for whites (right one).

    You might notice that your texture looks a bit more bland now, but remember that this will be processed further by the engine, its brightness and contrast settings, and the lightning in your maps. This way you can produce a coherent set of textures which all react to engine lightning in a predictable manner.

  19. #19
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Berlin, Germany
    ....This is a nice feature/bug with Photoshop. It existed in CS3, and it's still there in CS5.
    and it exist in the versions before, I worked with Version 6 and work with 7 and it happen/happend there too.

    If you draw from left to right and than from right to left(and so on) it don't happen but it's important to start outside and end outside the area(grey background).

    Btw, nice tut, I will try this too.


  20. #20
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    The end result is that you end up noticing the seams because they're a goodly bit different than the patterns in the center of the texture. It ends up drawing attention to exactly where his seams are at. Case in point....
    I understand what you mean now. I'm going to have to retrain my eye I reckon as I didn't notice the seams at first, I noticed the oblong shape on the left and to the right of centre.

  21. #21
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Judith! Haven't seen you in awhile! I'll add that bit in when I finally get around to doing part 2 of my brick wall tutorial.

    And speaking of which, there's a good reason why I haven't posted it up yet. It all started Thursday morning. I woke up with a slight tickling in my chest, and pretty much knew right then that...ohhhh damn, I'm getting sick. Friday morning comes around, and I wake up feeling like someone had punched me in the head 50 times while I was asleep. Sinuses are all swollen, eyes look like they've been blacked, got a nice rattle in my chest, and I can barely manage to stay awake for longer than two hours at a stretch. I have things leaking out of my face I didn't even know my body could physically produce. At this point, I think I'm producing motor oil out my nose. Maybe some algae. It's nasty stuff.

    Add in the fever dreams I've had about Pac-Man talking in reverse while slow jazz plays in the background (I'm sure this means something...), has sucked a bit.

    I've been a bit better today, thanks in no small part to penicillin, Nyquil, and enough tylenol to put me on suicide watch. My fever keeps breaking and coming back, and I've now managed to stay awake for 5 hours now. If this keeps up, I should be feeling almost human again by tomorrow.

    And thus is the reason why I have yet to post part 2 of my brick wall tutorial. Once I'm feeling up to par again, I'll get right on it.

    ...but for now, I'm going back to bed.

  22. #22
    Registered: Jul 2009
    Location: South Dakota, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    Add in the fever dreams I've had about Pac-Man talking in reverse while slow jazz plays in the background (I'm sure this means something...), has sucked a bit.
    Aw, man. I have to pay fifty bucks an ounce for dreams like that!

    Get better soon.

  23. #23
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Dragonsreach
    Ibuprofen kicks a fever's ass compared to Tylenol, Renz, at least for me - YMMV. Hope you get better soon.

  24. #24
    Ouch, now that sucks.. Get well soon, Renz!

  25. #25
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Alright, people. While I'm not exactly tanned at the moment, I am rested and ready. Laying in bed and only expending the energy to go "ooooggg" for two and a half days straight kinda helps to do that.

    Part 2 is gonna take me a little while to write up, mainly because I've decided to do a few things in as roundabout a way as possible to show you all the various methods you can use to achieve your desired results. I wanna get it done by tomorrow evening, but expect it around Tuesday or so at the latest.

    For now, I've got the trial run texture done (which I had to do so I'd have an idea for what to build up towards), and have started redoing it step by step, writing up paragraphs, and taking the usual screenshots. Right now I've got...lets see...two paragraphs done, so I've still got a bit to go. But, since I'm so late on delivering, I figured might as well throw a teaser out to whet your learning appetites. A direct preview of what the end results will look like once the tutorial is done.


    I wanted to break up the moss growing between the rocks so I could still show the shape of the underlying alpha we made in part 1. But if any of you don't like the way that looks (even I'm kinda iffy about it), then you'll be able to fill in all the cracks yourself by the time you get to the end of the tut. goes.

    Edit: And Nicker, when I'm done, I'll have the .pdf files for at least the brickwork tutorial done for you.
    Last edited by Renzatic; 18th Sep 2011 at 22:57.

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