Some months ago I had the pleasure to be holidaying in Melbourne and on one of the day trips during that visit we journeyed out to a place called Montsalvat, Australia’s oldest artists’ colony and a home still to practising artists. My thoughts were that it would just be a pleasant day out in an interesting location; little did I know it would be a 3D modeller’s texture heaven as well. It isn’t often that one finds such a wealth of possible textures in one setting and even rarer to find so many in the style of the genres that I love modelling in; fantasy and medieval. Each corner turned revealed another gem of walling, roofing, doors, windows, etc; so much so it was almost overwhelming. The three photos below will give you some idea of how marvellous the location was.
A wonderful day out and 150 photos later I now have a huge library of photographs awaiting the metamorphosis into textures. Not that I have much time at the moment to spend on them; the MA is still taking up the majority of my time; but I do like to keep up with the blog when I can so I thought I’d take this opportunity to at least start on some of the photographs and in the process share with you some of the techniques I use for creating textures for Second Life and OpenSim.
To begin with I would say that if I had known the wealth of textures I would encounter I would have begged, borrowed or stolen a tripod for the camera. My hands aren’t rock solid steady these days and a tripod would have been a great addition to ensuring, in some cases, much sharper imagery. Walls, seats etc., filled the role adequately most of the time however.
The fillip that did occur during the visit though was the weather; it was slightly overcast for a lot of the day with nice diffused light and softer shadows. While providing dramatic effects for a photograph, strong contrasts of light do not help the cause when you wish to use that photograph as a 3D texture. This is especially so if the resulting texture is to be tileable, i.e. designed to seamlessly repeat vertically and horizontally on the surface of a primitive. These textures need to blend well at the edges and not display areas that stand out, highlighting the repetitiveness, as shadows are want to do.
Tileable textures take a little more time so for this first post on creating a texture I thought I’d go through the process for a non-tileable one. There were doors and windows in abundance at Montsalvat, all quite unique and full of character, and it is one of the door photographs that I will use to demonstrate the creation of a non-tileable texture. This photograph is shown below.
The following link displays a cropped version of the original photograph (to reduce the file size) without any other alteration. The following texture creation uses this photograph and Photoshop CS2, though other Photoshop versions or other graphics programs should allow similar manipulations. To copy the photograph to your computer click on the link then right click on the image and select Save picture as…
Creating the Texture
Cropping the Image
The image is opened in Photoshop then cropped close to the outer edge of the door using the Crop Tool.
Guides are set by dragging them from the horizontal and vertical rulers and used to mark the edges of the door. Where an edge isn’t parallel to a guide the guide is positioned so that it intersects the door edge as near to its middle as possible.
Aligning the Door Edges
Using Edit/Transform/Distort the image is then manipulated so that the door edges line up with the guides.
The Final Crop of the Image
The guides are cleared now so the edges are easily visible and the straightened image is then cropped along the door edges leaving just the door as the image.
Duplicating the Layer
At this stage a duplicate of the door image layer is made as a backup before further manipulation of the image. In Photoshop this is achieved by right-clicking on the layer and selecting Duplicate Layer.
The initial layer is hidden so that it will not be worked on in error.
Removing the Locks
There are multiple locks in the door which I don’t want to see on the final texture so all of these except one are removed from the image using the Clone Stamp Tool.
This tool uses other parts of the image, selected by pressing the Alt key and clicking on that part, to paint out the locks by cloning the selected part and applying it where I then “brush” the tool.
Sharpening and Resizing
Prior to the next stage, where the lighting levels are adjusted, I sharpen (using the Unsharp Mask) and then size down the image. Sharpening tidies up any fuzziness from the initial photography or any that may occur when resizing or otherwise manipulating an image. Depending on the state of the image and the manipulation, sharpening may be applied at various stages throughout the process. In almost all cases of sizing down the image some sharpening will then be applied.
As textures are resized to conform to the power of two when they are uploaded into Second Life I always prefer to size them myself prior to uploading. At this stage I resize the height down to 512 pixels and let the width size proportionally. The width will be resized to the nearest power of two just prior to uploading. At this stage I also make a note of this width so that I can build the door in Second Life to the same proportions as the original.
Continued in In Texture Heaven: Part 2