Sketchup Shorts #4: Virtual Materials II - Tiling it Seamlessly

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 03-10-2009 04:33 PM 11343 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Going to the Lumberyard - Virtually Part 4 of Sketchup Shorts series Part 5: Dimensioning Lumber - Virtually »

So a point was raised in my previous installment of this blog regarding tiling appearance of materials (once you assign your custom material to your model and scale it up you’d see the same material pattern repeat over and over again with distinct horizontal and vertical lines (the seams) that separate those repetitions.

This tutorial will show you how to eliminate those seams from your materials, and make it possible to seamlessly tile your material over larger areas. I will show you how to do this using Photoshop, but any other photo editing application will do as the concepts are the same.

Note: Although we will eliminate the seams in this turorial, the material will still show repetitive tiles – this is due to the nature of this material which has very distinctive grain patterns that are hard to blunt out. This is actually on purpose for this totorial since it will make it easier to see the seams, and their elimination.

On we go…

This is the original material (made new material with a photo I got online for birdseye maple (see my previous installment on this blog which explains how to do this). you can clearly see the seams between the tiles and the repetitive look of the material:
seamed Tiles

We’ll fix that source image in Photoshop and recreate the material later.

1. First , I opened the source image (birdseyemaple) in Photoshop. I clicked on Image->Image Size, and noted what the image size was, in this case – it is 360×270 (we’ll need that in the next step).

2. I then clicked on Filters->Others->Offset :
Offset Filter

Which opens a window with several options. Here, I entered HALF the HEIGHT, and HALF the WIDTH of the image in the offset values , I marked Warp Around (if you have preview selected you can already see the effect on the image – see how all the seams are centered on the image) :

Offset Effect

This basically shifts the edges of the image to the center , and the center of the image to the edges – now we know that the original center of the image has no seams – so the new edges will tile nicely, all we have to do is clean the seams in the new center of the image and we’re good to go.

Note: I entered HALF the HEIGHT and HALF the WIDTH of the image- but the exact number is not crucial – the important thing here is the shift the seamed edges away from the edges toward the center of the image where we can see them, and clean them.

3. Next, Select the History Brush Tool (Hotkey Y), this brush is unique – instead of a specific ‘color’ it paints with the original part of the image. :

History Brush

4. Use the History Brush to paint over the seams. do not paint straight lines, try to fade off those seams in an artistic way (waves, blotches..) – after all we’re woodworkers, we should be able to be a bit creative right? :

paint over seams

5. Save the modified image. Back in sketchup create a new texture with the new image as the source. you can see that the seams are no longer visible, and you get a material that tiles nicely and cleanly. you can still see the repetitions since this particular material has a very distinctive grain pattern and shades of colors, but the seams are gone:

no more seams

Go Experiment!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

6 comments so far

View Ampeater's profile


442 posts in 4718 days

#1 posted 03-11-2009 05:51 PM

Looks good. I was wondering. How large an image will sketchup accept? For instance, if the above photo was 1440×1080 (four times the original), there would be fewer edges and the image should look more like a real board.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View PurpLev's profile


8642 posts in 4619 days

#2 posted 03-11-2009 06:06 PM

That is true Ampeater, actually – the original image used for this totorial WAS 1440×1080 (roughly) – I lowered it’s resolution so as to make the numerical values in this tutorial smaller and easier to understand. I think it may be a case of trial and error see how much Sketchup can handle, from my experience I have yet to overload Sketchup with any source materials. I mainly think it has to do with your personal computer’s specs (ram, cpu speed, harddrive space) more than Sketchup internal ability.

you could very well design each material for each component in your model externally in photoshop (or equivalent) with fullsize designs (think patterns, grain, marquetry, etc) – for some it may be easier to do in Sketchup, but for others it may be easier to just have it done in photoshop and imported as a material image – for a good example, see my Pinnacle Router Table Plate model I’ve posted – the model itself is nothing more than a shallow cube, with a hole in it. the rest of the details are in the material itself.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4725 days

#3 posted 03-11-2009 07:10 PM

Just to add to what Lev has said here, one thing to be careful about is to keep the file size down for these images. If you have several large images in a drawing they will be added to the drawing and can easily bloon the size of the file. Wood magaizne has some SU images that are available for download and they are huge and I grabbed them and made a drawing that ended up being over 8MB in size. I could see DaveR’s eye bulging in MN all the way from Texas when I sent it to him! ;)

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Dave's profile


6 posts in 4019 days

#4 posted 03-10-2010 06:53 AM

I am not going to comment on the use of “Photoshop” as although I play with it; I have no idea what I have done and how I got the picture to the finished state. I just click and click. You, though what a talented person you are: running your own web site and talented software user; producing wonderful wood products, and you are a writer! This is very broad and makes for an interesting life that is inspirational and creative . Is there anything you cannot do?

I empress again my satisfaction at reading your articles.

May be we could have some simple instructions on how to use photoshop in the context of DIY building -VIRTUALLY OF COURSE!

-- Dave | Tool Shed |

View John's profile


3 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 10:03 AM

Oh! It is not enough that we must be talented carpenters. We now must be efficient computer users too! On behalf of all carpenters we thank you for this fantastic series of how to use computer programs successfully!

-- John |

View joeCommercial's profile


7 posts in 3552 days

#6 posted 05-04-2011 09:11 AM

You’re absolutely brilliant. Using Photoshop can be such a torture to me sometimes.

-- Joe -

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