Join Adam Crespi for an in-depth discussion in this video Painting galvanized steel quickly, part of Creating Metal 3D Textures.
- We use metal in so many places, in textures, in architecture, in design, in science fiction, in Middle Ages lore, even as jewelry. It's worth then knowing how to make some metals quickly and how to generate as much texture as you need for commonplace things. I'm going to start with some galvanized steel. This is a material that we find in all kinds of applications. As we can see here in a quick search, we find it in roofs, on pipes, on beams, in structural applications, and in finished applications.
Its use is only limited by our imagination. So it's a good thing to have on hand. The idea in galvanized steel is we're going to take, well, steel and galvanize it, coat it in zinc or something else that won't rust. And there's two ways to do this. We can either hot dip or electroplate. Most of what we see out there is hot-dipped, where we take our steel, and we dunk it in a vat of zinc and other metals, basically, and galvanize it so it's more corrosion-resistant. What we can see then is most galvanized steel has a kind of a fractalized, chipped, flaky appearance.
It's not that it's flaking, but what we need to see in it in our texture is a varied shine. So we'll look at making a large section of galvanized steel and then putting it on to a sample texture. I'll jump into Photoshop and start by making a large section of clean, galvanized steel. Here in Photoshop, I'm going to make a new document that's pretty huge, and it's going to give me a good base for my steel. I'll choose File and New. In the New Document dialog, I'll set the width to, well, let's try 10,000.
Here's a height of 10,000. And I'm going to run the resolution at 72 pixels per inch in RGB 8-bit color. For now I'll work in SRGB, as I don't have another color profile I need to spec. I'll leave my pixels square and create this document. This will be a working base for our steel, and I'll click OK to get going. Photoshop has created my huge, new document. And what I'll do next is to set my foreground/background colors to some greys. I'm going to use some render clouds, and I need to have subtle colors in here, not drastic black and white.
I'll click on the foreground color and put it to a brightness of roughly 80% or so. Then I'll click on the background color and put it to a brightness somewhere around 40. This is a little less harsh than that black and white, and it will give me better clouds that don't clip or go flat in their color. Now I'll run some clouds, choosing Filter and Render Clouds. Depending on the speed of your machine, this may take a minute, but it's worth it to get a ton of clouds.
Here's why I started this big. Render clouds in Photoshop are always the same. They're standard, Brownian clouds. They simply generate. So if we have a small document, we get a cloud. And if we have a giant document, we get a ton of clouds like we can see here. Now I'll crystallize them. I'll choose Filter, Pixelate, and Crystallize. What I'm going to do is to start to make that galvanization pattern, first crystallizing these clouds, and then shrinking this document and crystallizing further.
I'll put the cell size at 55. Why? Because it's fairly easy in the middle range on the keyboard. As we can see, this takes those soft clouds and puts them into crystalline, chipped patterns, phasing in greys, which is starting to approximate galvanized steel. I'll click OK, and we'll get a much more defined look. Now what we've got, when we zoom in, is a chipped, fractalized pattern, still phasing from the clouds, but much more defined.
Now we'll shrink this down, pressing Control-Alt-I for image size or choosing Image, Image Size up off the top menu. I'll put this down to 6,000 by 6,000 using the Bicubic Sharper reduction. It's worth getting to know your resampling modes because sometimes you want to keep things crisp, and sometimes you want them to blur as they blend up or down. I'll leave it sharp and click OK. And what I'll get are the same clouds, crystallized now at a smaller size.
I'll crystallize again, choosing Filter, Pixelate, and Crystallize. And this time I'll run it at, let's see what 34 looks like. The reason to keep downsampling and crystallizing is to further muddy the original cloud pattern. If we downsample and crystallize again, we're asking Photoshop to make up new color as it creates that crystallized pattern. And so we're further muddling the original clouds as we go. Now I'll downsize one more time.
I'll bring this down to 3,000 square. I'll press Control-0 to zoom in, and now I'm going to add in some more crystallization. I'll choose Filter, Pixelate, and Crystallize. And this time I'll run it a size of, let's see what 16 looks like. Now I'm getting a more distinct pattern. And I'll do it again at a smaller size. Here's a crystallize at 11, not an easy multiple into 16, and that's the point. We want Photoshop to make up new pieces.
I'll click OK, and then I'll run it one more time, again at a smaller size. I'll crystallize at 7 and click OK. What we're getting here is that jagged, fractalized pattern we expect to see in our galvanized steel. I'll zoom out, and we can see it clearly looks like a large section of the diffuse color of galvanized steel. It's nicely blended throughout, and there is some areas that look flat in their color as galvanized steel should be. But we can make out an overall crystalline pattern in there.
I'll run that crystallization one more time, choosing Filter, Pixelate, and Crystallize. And I'll put it down to, let's say 4. This is the final pass on jagged edges, really giving me that crystalline pattern in my steel. Depending on the look you want, you can stop a couple of crystallize passes back if you want it to be more faceted. Or you can keep going and really let it have that jagged, galvanized look. In any case, here's a large working swatch of galvanized steel, and it's ready for use in a texture.
We can cut it and fold it and make plate out of it, wrap it around a surface, or stitch it into a larger shape. We can even screw it to things and fold over the edges, making things like boxes and vents, for example. But this is a large working sample of galvanized steel, ready for us to use.