Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Seamless Tufted Fabric Tutorial

Ok!  Gather round, students, it's tutorial time!

This is the first tutorial I've made, and I'd appreciate any feedback you might have in the comments at the end.

This is a fun, easy tutorial using some really basic Photoshop techniques.  My version of Photoshop is Elements 5, so it's pretty much ancient and really minimal in terms of tools, etc.  But that's fine, because it helps in keeping things uncomplicated.  So, here we go, it's time for:

We're going to start with a note on picking your colours.  I found this beautiful teal on Pinterest in the form of a palette image:

You can find images like this on Pinterest or via a Google search. There are a couple on my Palette Board on Pinterest in pink and dark blue.  You can also create this in shades of black, grey and white, and then use the Adjust Hue/ Saturation tool in photoshop to change it to any colour you wish!  That's how I made the background for the blog!  (Edit: I had a purple version of the tufted fabric as the background for the blog before the current one)
Of course if you already have a particular colour in mind and can find it in the colour picker in Photoshop, use that instead.  Make sure you have 5 shades of the same colour: a midtone (your main colour), plus two darker and two lighter.  The image above has 6 shades, I just didn't use the third one down at all.
Got your palette?  Awesome!  Make sure your palette image is already open in Photoshop, or that you've got your chosen colours saved in the colour swatch menu, and we'll get started on our working image.

Start with a new file (File> New or Ctrl+N) sized at 5cm by 5cm at a resolution that suits the image you're going to be creating.  For me, I set it high at 600ppi, as this is the resolution that I scan my drawings at to get the most information in the image.  Keeping each element of my compositions the same resolution gives predictable results when putting them all together.  Make sure your image is RGB Colour mode with a white background and click OK to create it.
Click View> Grid to place a grid over your image.  This will help us find the centre of the image.  Choose the Line or Shape tool from your tool menu on the left of your window.  From the top of the screen select the Custom Shape option (the one shaped like a speech bubble).  From the drop down menu, select 'Circle Thin Frame.'

Place the target on the top corner of the 4 grid squares that surround the centre of your working image.  Click and drag to the opposite bottom corner to create a circle as above.
In the layer menu on the left, right click on the layer title Shape 1, and select 'Simplify Layer.'  This allows the layer to be manipulated in the way we need it to be.

Now we get to use the repeating pattern creators' best friend, the Offset Filter!  Click Filter>Other>Offset to open the dialogue box.  The values need to be half the amount of pixels in the height and width of the overall image.  If you're not sure how many pixels high and wide your image is, click on the measurements on the bottom left border of your working screen (next to the zoom percentage).  This will present a little box with the information you need.  For my image, it's 1181 pixels in height and in width (of course they should be the same, it's a square!).  So half of 1181 is 590 (rounded up, as the values must be whole numbers).  Enter your values and make sure that Wrap Around is selected.  If you have the preview box checked, you should see the circle split into the 4 corners.  Click ok.

Create another circle in the centre of the image exactly as you did before.  Now, we need to draw some diagonal lines to connect our circles.  Change the Custom Shape Tool into a Line tool.  Set the weight to 5 pixels.  Place the target at the top left corner of the image and click and drag down to the bottom right corner, then let go.  Repeat going from bottom left corner to top right corner to create and X on your image.

To make things easier and keep them neat, we're going to merge the circles and lines into 1 layer.  Go to your Layer menu on the left of your screen and, one at a time, right click and select 'Simplify Layer' for each of the shape layers, just as we did for Shape 1 earlier.  When they're all simplified, start at the top layer, right click and select 'Merge Down.'  Keep doing this with the top layer until all the shape layers have become 1 layer called Shape 1.  You can now switch off the grid lines by clicking View> Grid again.

Ok, it's time for some colour!  Bring up your palette image, and select the eyedropper tool from the left-hand menu.  Click on a mid-tone to pick up the colour, then return to your working image.  Select the FloodFill tool from the left menu, making sure it's set to Foreground, then select the background layer of your image, and click on the image.  This will give you your base colour.
Create a new layer between your background and the shape layer.  This will be your working layer for the rest of the tutorial.
Select a tone from your palette image or the colour picker which is darker than your background colour, but not the darkest tone available.  Return to your working image and select the brush tool from the left menu.  From the brush menu, choose a soft round brush of 65 pixels.  Slide the opacity down to 20%.
Making sure you're on your working layer, softly shade the inside of the centre circle, making the shading heavier around the lower right.  Shade along the underside of the diagonal lines, not crossing over into any of the circle shapes.  Around the centre circle there needs to be light, narrow shading on the left and right, a bit longer and darker underneath and then shade the top side in layers almost to the top of the image. 

Return to your palette image and use the eyedropper to pick the darkest tone.  Return to your working image and select the brush tool.  Shade along the diagonal lines again making it darkest right against the line.  shade around the outside of the centre circle from halfway up the left side, around to the top of the left side, using the diagonal lines as guides.  Make sure it's darkest at the bottom right.  Shade just a little at the top of the bottom quarter.  Hardly any shading, if any, should be done at the sides.  Layer over the top shading to darken it, about halfway up to the top, making it quite dark just above the centre circle.
Remember how we merged down all those shape layers?  Where here's where that help us.  Make the shape layer invisible so you can clearly see your image (much easier than having to toggle several layers on and off!)  You should be able to see your image taking shape.

Return to you palette image again, and this time pick up a lighter shade that your midtone, but not the lightest available.  Return to your working image and pick up the brush tool again.  Highlight inside the circle, concentrating on the top left of it.  Highlight along the top side of the diagonal lines.  Highlight under the circle, blending down from where you shaded previously, layer the highlights down to nearly the bottom of your image.

Returning, once again, to your palette image, pick the lightest shade, then return to your working image and pick up the brush tool again.  Apply heavy highlight inside the highlighted area inside the circle.  If you still had it visible, turn the shape layer invisible, and highlight along the diagonal lines, making to get as close as possible to the darkest shading.  The more contrast where they meet, the more dimensional your finished image will be.  Apply heavy highlight to the top of the highlighted area under the centre circle (which is now a button!).  Try to make this highlight more obvious on the left side, fading to the right and down to give a consistent feel to where the light source is (also assists with the dimensional and aesthetic authenticity.  Wow, trying saying 'aesthetic authenticity' 10 times fast after a few daquiri's!).

Now it's time to reintroduce our good friend, the Offset Filter.  Making sure your working layer is selected, click on Filter, and the Offset filter should now be at the top of the menu.  If you just click on it here it will apply the same values as before, and you'll see your image pop out to the 4 corners.  Working in the same way as before, using the shape layer for guidance and picking up each colour from the palette image, repeat the painting steps to create another button and shading around it in the centre.  Don't worry if it's not exactly the same as your first one, it adds to the realism and the handpainted quality.  You do want to make sure there's consistency in the placement of the highlights, as this indicates the placement of the light source in the image.

You should now have something that looks a bit like this:

If you have stray brush marks, or want to smooth off some of the shading, using the smudge tool is helpful, just keep it to 50% strength and make it fairly big (about 70 pixels).  Save your work.

Congratulations, you've made a repeating pattern!  Want to see it in action?

Click Edit> Define Pattern and OK the dialogue box.

Ctrl+N to open the New File box.  Set the size to be 30cm square, and make sure it's the same resolution as your image.  Click ok.

Select the FloodFill tool and select Pattern from the drop down menu at the top.  From the pattern drop down, choose your image and then click anywhere in your new image.  Ta-Da!

Wasn't that fun?!  You could try experimenting with different texture masks and layers, if you're feeling flashy, to give it a woven fabric, or even a leather feel.  You can even adjust the hue to create different colours, just remember the working layer and the background layer have to be merged, as it only adjusts one layer at a time.

Want to see what I did with my teal background? No?  Well, I'm going to show you anyway.

 Hopefully, you've found this tutorial useful, or at least fun, and a way to learn a few photoshop skills that can help with developing your own work.

Remember to give some feedback on how you found the tutorial, if there was anything unclear or it was too long, wordy or you can think of a way to make it better.  I'd also love to see if you created something with it, so feel free to show some images!



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Very nice work! Any chance you could publish the .psd or image file?