Advanced Imaging Tips

Grout Grids, Saw Cuts, Irregular Acid Stain Patterns...

For Contractors who have Depiction Software's Imaging software – either the hardscape or decorative concrete versions – there are multiple ways to create the kinds of “After” images you want that show grout grids or saw cuts and acid stained random curves.

Normally, within the software you already have seamless textures that are easy to apply to a defined surface. 

But what if you are creating something more custom to show off what you do?

A case in point...

A customer wanted to know several advanced tips involving saw cuts, grout lines, multi-colored acid stain squares, and irregular acid stain patterns.

Question One:  Was "how" to create the illusion of saw cuts on gray concrete.  They sent in this photograph to give us the idea:

BEFORE PHOTO

(See also some After "Images" down towards the bottom of this page.)

Question Two: They were also curious about how to create a customized multi-colored square grid effect.  Rather like this that could be used as a seamless texture:

Question Three: And finally, they also wanted to know how to create customized irregular acid stain patterns (that we fondly call “swoopies”). 

This is the photograph they provided:

BEFORE PHOTO

So the guys at Depiction Software created this very “rough” unedited training movie to show the concept that we share here:

NOTE: THIS IS UNEDITED!!!  (Shows concept)

Training Video Notes: 

These notes will help make sense of it (sort of).  We’ve broken up the explanations into (semi) logical sections.

1)  MAKING GRIDS

  • Make a grid in PhotoShop (we can actually make those for you) in 4 foot or 3 foot squares/rectangles (whatever you want). 
  • Save it as .bmp file or .tiff file (not a .jpeg because it creates “artifacts”).
  • Next you have to make the grid seamless (frankly his explanation is confusing) and to do that he uses a program called XFader to crop two sides of the grid (so when it repeats, it will “match” seamlessly.)
  • Once the image is cropped, it is saved off as a .bmp file and called “seamless.”
  • In order to create a transparent background for the grid -- the Deco-Con Imaging software needs this for the sawcut look – you need to take that seamless .bmp file into software (like PhotoShop) and change the very first pixel in the upper left-hand corner of a seamless texture to blue.  If it is blue all the white background you see behind the black grid will become transparent in the actual software.  If it is while, the software will interpret it as a “solid” white.  Need to have that if you are going to “colorize the grid” with other textures (which he shows later.) 
  • Resave the seamless file. 

2)  PLACING GRID INTO AN IMAGE

  • He then switches to the Deco-Con Imaging software and on a background photo quickly defines a surface an applies an acid stain color, then to make it look more realistic, applies a bit of transparency to the acid stain.  Shows how to do that.  (There are training movies within the Imaging software to teach you how to do these kinds of things.)
  • To apply your pre-defined .bmp seamless grid to the image -- to give it the look of sawcuts – you would go to “Import Object” and find where you saved that grid, and import it. (When a dialog box appears, in this case, he clicks “Yes” to reduce the size of the grid.) NOTE: I’ve renamed his grids showing in the movie as: GroutTexture-SquareTile-Black.bmp and GroutTexture-MultiColor-White.bmp ... if you want copies letus know.
  • Will now use the “Warp” tool in the software and line up edges of the grid with the corners of the defined surface.
  • Looks about right for a 3’x3’ area, and, if you want it larger, you would simply stretch out the grid (still using the warp tool) until it looks the way you want and is lined up to the edges.
  • Once it looks about right, exit the Warp tool and then “right click” on the grid (not the background acid stain surface). It’s hard to select on something transparent, or very small (you may have to turn it solid to select it), or you can go to a box and select the object “By Name” to make it active. Then you want set the transparency of the grid.  Test a few options.
  • NOTE: The image he showed was “quick and dirty.”  I would have first redefined the driveway so I got “rid” of all the original saw cuts, then defined the surface, then applied the acid stain, then turned the acid stain background slightly more transparent, then applied the grid, etc.

3)  COLORIZING A MULTI-COLOR GRID

  • Want to go back to the “Import Object” and locate your grid file and when the dialog box asks it you want to size it down this time, say “No.”
  • Since it is a seamless grid, you want to randomly colorize it to the textures/colors you want. Use the “Fill Wand” tool, and select “From Library” and pick an acid stain color that you want by clicking on it. Then click it to a square and it’s going to make it that color.  (Lay out any pattern that you want by doing it this way.)
  • After click the color into some of the squares, he goes and chooses a different acid stain color and clicks that on some more squares.  (You can click faster than it “Fills” so give it a few seconds to catch up.)
  • He pauses and fills in the rest.  Also points out that he left the grid lines “black.”  If you wanted them another color, like white or gray, you can go into the acid stain colors and pick something and “zoom in” to the black line and click it and it will change all the connected black lines to that color. 
  • Then you need to save the high-resolution colorized grid (to a file name you can remember) and do that as “Export Object” and as a .bmp file.
  • Once saved, you can delete it off the background. 

4)  PLACING MULTI-COLOR GRID ON BACKGROUND IMAGE

  • After defining a surface area in the “Pattern Library” you’ll click on “From File” and locate your multi-color grid with the gray/white grid.
  • Adjust the perspective -- by moving the perspective handles -- and then, because the multi-color grid is too big, you adjust the “Scale” to make it smaller.
  • Tiles are a bit bright so you can tone it down y reducing the transparency on the multi-color surface.  (Right click and an “Area Property” box appears… adjust the transparency… try different settings until it looks good.) 

5) PLACING FREE-FORM SHAPES ON A BACKGROUND

  • NOTE: He already created a “Free Form” shape .bmp image in PhotoShop – much like he did with the grids.
  • Go to “Import Object” and select the free form file. This time, say ”Yes” when the dialog box asks to size down the shapes.
  • Similar to defining multi-color acid stains, you use the “Fill Wand” tool, pick the colors you want, and fill in each shape with a different color.  (Use “Undo” if you don’t want a color defined.)  And fill the background with a base color.
  • NOTE: He doesn’t show the step but at this point you might want to save the file under “Export Object.”
  • He then takes the shapes image and resizes it to see what is behind, and then uses the “Warp” tool to adjust it an place it into position.
  • So, you can put “wild shapes” in by drawing them first, colorizing them, and then warping them into the background picture.
  • Might want to reduce transparency.  (Right click for “Area Properties box and set the transparency.)

So, this appears totally confusing, but when you "get it," using your Imaigng software it all becomes very easy.

TO RECAP

To sum up, you are using a predefined square "grid," not unlike this:

 

... and laying in down on a defined surface area sucn as broom finish concrete or acid stains or anything.  Once you've set the alignment and pespective on the grid, what makes it look realistice is to make it more transparent. 

Simple, eh?

BEFORE PHOTO - Cracked Concrete...

AFTER "IMAGE" - Acid Stain with Saw Cut grout lines (a bit too heavy)...

AFTER "IMAGE" - Acid Stain with Saw Cut grout lines (toned down)...

AFTER "IMAGE" - Acid Stain with Saw Cut grout line (a different color)...

AFTER "IMAGE" - A Rough Gray Concrete with Saw Cuts...

AFTER "IMAGE"- A Broom Finish Gray Concrete with Saw Cuts...

AFTER "IMAGE"- Multi-colored Acid Stain with grout lines

Got questions? 

Let us know.