TUTORIAL #1

This Tutorial explains how we built the various Tiles based on use of our Preset series EG-012 for Super BladePro (SBP).  The results the Presets give are no good "as is" for use as seamless tiles - all lack a repeat pattern - but they're often very pleasing to the eye.  So, rather than waste their potential, we decided to "play around" with them to see if anything could be salvaged.

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The starting point for all our experiments were graphics produced by SBP using our Presets applied to plain images.  We have a separate Tutorial on using SBP, in the "Super BladePro" section of this Gallery.  It also covers some more general graphics matters which may be helpful, even if you don't use SBP.

 SBP Tutorial

Our "playing around" ("experiments", if you want a bit of class) required considerable use of our preferred graphics software packages; hardly surprising, really.  For the record, they are Adobe's 'PhotoShop' (we use Version 5.0LE) and Corel's 'Photo-Paint' (we use Version 7.467SE) which we run on a PC, currently under Windows 98.  So, as much as anything else, this Tutorial could be regarded as a tutorial on a few of their many functions - primarily PhotoShop, as that is what we used by far the most; we don't often use Photo-Paint (no criticism! ).  If you're interested, you can download evaluation versions of both packages from their producers' Web Sites.  Use these links . . .

Link to Adobe

< < <  for PhotoShop

Link to Corel

for Photo-Paint  > > >

Please note that these packages are personal  preferences.  Don't think we're denigrating their competition - Jasc's 'Paint Shop Pro', for example, which is just as widely used as PhotoShop.  They're doubtless equally good and probably have comparable functionality, but we know nothing about them simply because we've never used them.

A CAVEAT

This Tutorial is intended primarily for the "enthusiastic amateur", not professional graphics designers - although it's just possible that even they  may pick up something new.  It doesn't profess to be technical or comprehensive.  What it attempts  to do is to show "how we did it" in a way others can follow easily.  It tries to give a feel  for what certain elements of some of the graphics packages' functions actually do, rather than go into exhaustive detail about how they work - if you want that, please use the packages' Help facilities.

There are sure to be some folk who will read this and say "Hey, I  can do better than that! ".  You'll probably be absolutely right, so please  go ahead and do just that; write your own Tutorial and put it up on the Web.  We'd be amongst the first to read it - and benefit from it, no doubt - and  say a big "thankyou".  The more people who share their knowledge and experience, the better; everyone wins.  After all, that's what the Web is supposed to be about.

End of sermon!

OK, enough of the "introductories".  Let's get on to the main course!


TUTORIAL INDEX

Where

Short Cut

Subject

This Page

OUR FIRST EXERCISE    MAKING A SIMPLE TILE

Page 2

OUR SECOND EXERCISE    VARIATIONS ON A THEME

      Introduction

      Variation 1 - Image Size

      Variation 2 - Opacity & Backgrounds

Page 3

      Variation 3 - Tonal Adjustment

Page 4

OUR THIRD EXERCISE    COLOUR VARIATIONS

      Introduction

      Variation 1 - Opacity & Backgrounds

      Variation 2 - Tonal Adjustment

Page 5

      Variation 3 - Colour Replacement

CAUTION

These pages are graphics-intensive, so please give them time to load


OUR FIRST EXERCISE MAKING A SIMPLE TILE

Let's start with a graphic fresh out of Super BladePro.  By the way, we're using PhotoShop, our "host" application for SBP.  For this first exercise only, and at the risk of "teaching Granny to suck eggs", we'll give full  details of each of the PhotoShop actions required at each step.

The graphic begins life as our standard image of 72×72 pixels, red in this case (RGB 255:38:38), to which we apply SBP using our Preset EG-012f . . .

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SBP

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Preset EG-012f

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We can see that there are near enough two repeats of a distinct vertical pattern.  There is also a horizontal pattern of sorts, but it's asymetrical - the pairs of faint blue "whiskers" on each side of the central spiral are half a vertical pattern apart.  Goody, at least this gives us something  to work on!

Now we need to determine the exact  extent of the vertical repeat pattern, then trim the graphic to a single repeat while retaining the full width.  Do this using the 'Marquee' tool to define the new edges.  Just click on the Toolbar's 'Marquee' tool to select it, then "click and drag" the cursor (now a "+" sign) across the graphic to mark the edges . . .

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. . . then use the 'Image' menu's 'Crop' function to trim the excess . . .

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Crop

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So far, so good; we have an graphic with a single complete vertical pattern of 33 pixels.

Note.   If you already know  the dimensions of the pattern's vertical and horizontal repeats, you can apply the SBP Preset directly  to an image of the appropriate size and avoid the need for cropping.  This saves unnecessary effort!

We now have to develop an exact horizontal pattern, such that there is a seamless join when two copies of the graphic are butted up against each other side-by-side.  They say the simplest approach is usually the best, and so it proved here.  All that's needed is to make a new graphic by joining the original side-by-side with a mirror image of itself.  How?  Well, there are probably several methods, but this is how we do it . . .

1.  

Make a copy of the graphic.  Do this by clicking on the 'Image' menu's 'Duplicate' function.

2.  

Flip the copy  graphic horizontally.  Do this by selecting the 'Image' menu's 'Rotate Canvas' option, then clicking on the 'Flip Horizontal' function.  You can see that this gives a mirror-image of the original graphic.

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Flip Horizontal

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3.  

Now go back to the original  graphic.  Its canvas  size - but not  its image  size - needs to be expanded so that the copy mirror-image graphic can be added.  Do this by selecting the 'Image' menu's 'Canvas Size' option, then take three actions in the pop-up 'Canvas Size' dialogue box.  First, enter a new width of 144 pixels - double the original - leaving the height unchanged.  Second, click on the middle row's left-hand square in the 'Anchor' matrix; this ensures that the graphic will be positioned on the left of the resized canvas.  Finally, click on the 'OK' button.

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Canvas Size

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4.  

We now have to place the copy mirror-image graphic into the empty space on the original graphic's canvas, alongside the original graphic itself.  This is a four-stage process . . .

First, right-click on the copy mirror-image graphic, then click on the 'Select All' option in the pop-up menu.  This selects the whole graphic, indicated by the "marching ants" - the same as if we had used the Marquee tool, but quicker and more accurate (we know we won't have missed anything).

Second, copy the selected graphic onto the clipboard.  Do this by pressing your keyboard's 'Ctrl' and 'C' keys together (the quick way) or clicking on the 'Edit' menu's 'Copy' option (the other way).

Third, click on the original graphic to give it focus, then paste onto it the mirror-image graphic sitting on the clipboard.  Do this by pressing your keyboard's 'Ctrl' and 'V' keys together (the quick way) or clicking on the 'Edit' menu's 'Paste' option (the other way).

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Copy & Paste

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You can see that the mirror-image graphic is now sitting smack-dab in the middle of the original graphic's canvas, partially obscuring the original graphic.  There's nothing to be done to prevent this; it's the way PhotoShop works.  But fear ye not; PhotoShop has cunningly pasted the mirror-image graphic onto a new, separate, layer on the canvas - standard practice when pasting - so it can be moved independently of the original graphic.  Therefore . . .

Fourth and last, move the mirror-image graphic into its correct position on the canvas, alongside the original graphic.  Do this using the 'Move' tool.  Just click on the Toolbar's 'Move' tool to select it, position the cursor (it now looks like the 'Move' tool's icon) anywhere on the mirror-image graphic, which then "click and drag" into position . . .

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  =  

AND THAT'S IT - we now have a seamless tile!   A relatively painless operation which took us 2 minutes - we timed it!

Don't forget to save your new tile in a form that can be used for backgrounds - as a GIF.  Do this by selecting the 'File' menu's 'Export' option and clicking on the 'GIF89a Export' option (probably the only one available).  A 'GIF89a Export Options' pop-up dialogue box will then appear; the default options shown will almost certainly be fine, so click its 'OK' button.  Yet another pop-up dialogue box will appear - the 'GIF89 Export' dialogue box; just give the tile a name, specify the folder in which you want to store it, then click on the 'Save' button.

So how does it look when used as a background?  When you think you've finished any  new tile, always  check it to make sure you've done everything correctly - full pattern repeats with nothing added and nothing omitted, top and bottom edges match, left and right edges match, etc.  Its aesthetic appeal is, of course, a completely different matter!   Anyway, our new Tile gives this  backgound . . .

We've made a number of similar Tiles by applying other Presets in our series EG-012 to images of various colours.  All were produced using the procedure detailed here, although some them required a little cleaning up (calming a few stray off-colour pixels, etc.) to make them fit for public consumption.  They're all available in this Gallery, so download and use them if you like them.  Want to have a look?

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