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- Understanding the design process and software requirements
- Analyzing concept art for texture and key shadow detail
- Planning differently styled buildings
- Laying out city blocks
- Organizing construction elements and models using layers
- Cloning geometry and texture
- Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
- Arranging, aligning and cloning modular elements
- Building a texture library
- Creating stone, wood, and brick textures
- Constructing texture sheets
- Drawing detail
- Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
- Preparing for Unity as a world builder
Skill Level Intermediate
Another valuable element in a texture library is wood. We use wood as a building material around the world in different places and different ways. Sometimes it's used as siding. We can see here on an old barn or outbuilding. Sometimes it's used as a structural frame, sometimes it's both, and sometimes it's even a floor. We need to make wood in various ages, various sizes, and various weather conditions so we get different looks to it. What I will show in this example is how to make a large swatch of raw wood that later we can adjust color and cut planks.
To begin, I'm going to start out with a new document. I will press Ctrl+N for New Document and make this 500x500. I'll fill this new document with a 50% gray, pressing Shift+F5, and under Use choosing 50% Gray. Then I will put some vertical grain on, choosing Filter > Texture > Grain. We want to think of it as not wood, but a roughly parallel series of lines with occasional variation in color and weave.
I will make my Grain Type Vertical and take the Intensity and Contrast down. These don't need to be too fierce. We don't want black and white in the wood. We want gray and slightly different gray to start. I will press OK. Now I'll take this and choose Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. I will set the Angle to 90 to match the grain and the Distance to 20. That way it smoothes out most of the dots, leaving the even grain. I have a little bit of weave in here. That's just fine. Now I need to stretch this document.
I will press Ctrl+Alt+I for Image Size and blow this up to 2000 square. What this does is it spreads out the grain, forcing Photoshop to soften and interpolate the colors slightly, giving me a more natural appearance. We will add the color last. It's really about the pattern first and this is not going to be a tilable texture. This will be a large chunk of wood, actually something bigger than we could get from any tree possible, maybe a 4x4 or 6x6 board that later we could cut planks out of and arrange in the same way we do bricks or stone.
Now I am going to add some weave into the grain. But before I do that, I need a little bit of color variation. I will press B for Brush, and using a fairly large brush, maybe a few hundred wide, and setting it as a Multiply with a very low Opacity, I will brush vertical lines. It's helpful to do this zoomed out just a little bit, pressing Ctrl+Minus. That way I can start my brush outside of my document. Hold Shift and click and drag straight down to match the grain. I'll add in variation, a little lighter, a little darker in different places.
Occasionally, I'll use the square brackets to up- and downsize the brush giving me larger and smaller areas of darkness. As a side note, I do this regularly. I probably have 30, 40, 50 wood samples like this of different species, just large planks ready to go in my library. Then if somebody says we need cherry for all the furniture, I can go to my cherry samples and cut out the parts I need to paste onto and unwrap. I will also work in white sometimes for this, taking the color up to white and setting the brush blending mode here to Soft Light.
As I brush over, I will add light streaks, maybe even smaller across this, again holding Shift while doing this, making sure I click and drag, hold Shift, and then release both at the top, so I don't get a diagonal line. Now I've got variation across this. We will go to Filter and Liquefy. In this, I will add the variation in the wood. I will zoom out so I can see the full document. The first step is to change the grain width. I will use the Bloat tool and I will make the Brush Size fairly big, maybe 300 or so, but a very, very low Density and Rate.
If you are using a tablet, set your pressure very low as well. For this first one, I'm going to try to keep my hand as steady as possible, running my Bloat tool down the wood to spread out the grain. A little weave is okay, but we want to stay away from large zigzags. I'll come back up and catch the top and go right off the document. I'll repeat this several more times, maybe changing the Brush Size just a little bit, looking to add that characteristic variation across wood grain that's there from different years of drought or fire or otherwise.
I don't want to start from the top like that because it's very easy to introduce a dip in the wood. I will make sure I start in the middle, brush down, and come back and catch that top edge. It's okay to leave these in once in a while because we do see places like that in wood. Maybe one or two more will do. Now I need to add the wave in the grain. Trees are always curved. So I am going to use the Forward Warp tool with a huge brush, maybe 1000 square, and a very, very low Density and Pressure.
The idea on this is I'm going to just brush it over and add some weave and variation. Again, I want to stay away from large zigzags but some gentle curves would help. That way in case I see my grain, it's not perfect on something. I tend to do it diagonally, either top -left to bottom-right or top-right to bottom-left, whatever works. We are working our way in from the large scale down to the small. Now I need to add in places for knots. Depending on the species you are making, you may see more or fewer knots or none at all.
I'm going to work in somewhat of a generic pine or fur like we saw on those reference photos. I'll use the Blot tool, taking the Brush Size way down, maybe 100 or so and again a low Density and Pressure. I'll zoom-in and find a place with a bit of weave and in my Blot tool, just gently open up the grain, maybe a little bigger in this case. 150 will work well. I'll open up a place for a knot.
Zoom out and go catch another area. You can add in more or less weave if you'd like. You can do straighter wood if it's quarters-on or if it's flats-on, you may have a great amount of weave. It also depends on the species. As an example, I've had to make curly maple and tiger's eye maple where basically the whole thing was weave and knots. That took me a bit but the result was worth it. Once I have got my knots in, I can use the Twirl tool. Zooming in on each knot and sizing down this Twirl tool to maybe 60 or 70 and in the middle of the knot, I will twirl. What we don't want a huge bunch of rings, but really a somewhat ring like structure that looks kind of like a knot. That will do.
I will zoom in and do another one. It's really okay if some are dark and some are light. That's fine and if some aren't really formed at all. Knots show up in a different places in the wood. I'll finish these out and show the end result here. Using the Twirl tool, maybe upsizing and downsizing the brush a little bit, I've added knots to most of the places I've used the Bloat tool on. Some of them I left alone, like this one here at the top.
My wood is now ready for color. I'll hit OK and accept the Liquefy. This wood is ready as a grain pattern. Now I need to add color. I will make my Background layer by double-clicking on it and naming it. I will call it grain. I will slip a new layer under it, pressing Ctrl+Shift+N for new layer, calling this one color, and then Ctrl+ Shift+Left Bracket to move it down. On this new layer, first I will pick the wood color I want. I am going to make this kind of a nice warm yellow to start.
I'll fill in my under layer, my color, and change the blending mode of Grain to Color Burn. It's neat, but it's a little on the bright side. I will zoom in and using Hue/Saturation on the color layer desaturate and get the color where I want it. I press Ctrl+U to get here. I'll pull the Saturation out, maybe up the Lightness a little bit, and shift the Hue ever so slightly. I would like mine a little warmer. The last step is to add a little more color variation.
I will turn off the grain and eyedropper my under color. Then on the foreground color, I will change the Brightness of the Saturation slightly, maybe 4 or 5 points. Using a Paint Brush that's fairly large maybe several hundred across, but painting in a normal at 80% Opacity, I will add some streaks along the wood. A little goes a long way. We can see just a little bit gets me a bunch of extra darkness. I may want to rethink this and lower the Opacity.
I'll repeat this process with a lighter color, maybe 5 or 6 points lighter than the original. It's okay to let your hand weave a little bit here. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can always come back and paint it where you'd like it. My wood texture is ready. Right now, this is 2000 square. It's ready for cutting and pasting into a texture sheet and recoloring or reusing as I need. It's very easy to do this and now I have a clean raw diffused sample of wood, meaning there is no lighting or perspective baked in and I can cut as many planks out of it as I need.