Archive for December 7th, 2011

Added links…

Look!  Look to the right!
Under the Blogroll area you’ll see a new link.  This takes you directly to the other blog I maintain here on WordPress, the one I dedicate solely to discussing my photography, the things I’ve learned about it, and the learning I’ve applied towards it.

Take a peek if you’re game.  I welcome visitors there as well.


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Going back to childhood, I remember clearly the oft-repeated words of one of my uncles come Christmas time.  Almost inevitably, one or more of my fellow grandchildren and I would get a gift requiring assembly instructions, and just as inevitably we would dive into them heedless of any such trivial matters.  There was play at hand, and we’re supposed to wait?

Of course, the results were sometimes less than the fun, and in those occasions, my uncle would remind us to “Read the instructions”, with insistent and monotone gravitas.  Okay, so the mixed results we got in those circumstances probably warranted the warning, to some degree.  On the other hand, in the arts, (and in learning software to boot) play is absolutely warranted.  The more versatile the tool, the more enlightening play can be.  Play, as a result of curiosity, is a key path to discovery.
Today’s example is a result of a little bit of just such goofing off: texture patterns.  In CGI, the use of well-designed repeating patterns is key to creating believable renderings.  Samples are often readily available online, but just as often the quality leaves one… wanting.  There are a few ways around this.  You can have the pattern repeat over the surface you’re rendering repeatedly, which can work for a few repetitions, but will often succumb to the pattern revealing itself in the render, not a desirable outcome.  Another method is to simply increase the resolution of the pattern, but this too can do more harm than good, blurring and damaging the pixels in the process.

So what to do?  Versions of Photoshop starting with CS5 have an alternative answer at hand.  Once again, it’s the content-aware fill to the rescue.  Here’s the setup:  I have a photographed texture from an armadillo hide (A live one too.  Let me get super close for the photo-op, but that’s another story) that currently resides at 1024 pixels square.  Here’s what that looks like now:

Now I’m going to create a new file that’s twice the size at the same resolution so that it measures 2048 pixels square.  Then I’ll go back to the 1024 px image and using the move tool, drag and drop that image into the new high-resolution new file.

Now flatten the layers and use the magic wand tool to select the white space surrounding the old texture and refine the selection edge using the option in the options bar by expanding the selection area ever so slightly.  Then select edit>fill>content-aware fill.  Now the white space if filled seamlessly with more armadillo-hide texture, but it’s not repetitive the way doubling or tripling up the smaller pattern over the surface would be.  It’s covering four times the area but with no  loss in resolution.

Now all that’s left is to choose your preferred method of making this new pattern repeatable.  The easiest is to use a plug-in like PixPlant which I found off Adobe’s website, but there’s always the more traditional method of Filters>Other>Offset and then using the pattern stamp, the heal brush etc. to ensure a solid repeatable pattern.

Just so you know this works even on stuff sampled online quickly, here’s a wood pattern extrapolated from an original Googled sample only 425 x 319 pixels into a standard 1024 x 1024 repeating pattern.

Here’s the original:

And the resulting pattern.  Note that in between, I edited the dark spot out on the right before running through the above procedure, and increased the saturation.

Lesson 1:  When working in CGI, you now have the ability to increase resolution as an alternative solution to repeating the pattern excessively or blowing out the detail by increasing the resolution directly.
Lesson 2: Never forget the power of simply playing around.

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