Advanced Imaging Tips

Seamless Textures...

This page is really for contractors, designers, distributors, and manufacturers who want to better understand why creating “seamless textures” for their paver and decorative concrete product lines are so important -- as an additional sales tool enhancement -- to increase the ability for contractors to specify their product. 

It will also help with the understanding on “how” to best take photos of pavers or any surface that can then be converted into a seamless texture.

WHY “SEAMLESS?”

In both 2D and 3D software, when you define a surface area -- for example, a driveway, patio, pool deck, wall, etc. -- and then apply a pattern/texture/color to it -- such as pavers, decorative concrete, grass, mulch, natural stone, acid stains, and more -- you are not actually applying a large photo of that surface area. 

You are applying a small swatch, that repeats multiple times, to give you the "illusion" of being a "real" surface.

Take this Before Photo...

When you define and apply any surface texture (aggregate in the example below) that has not been reworked to appear "seamless" you will get a waffle or distorted surface on your image... 

Looks cartoonish, right?

However, if a desired texture swatch repeats "seamlessly," then the “After” Image will impress potential customers (making their projects look good) and are far more likely to sell the installation job... 

A picture is worth a thousand words, eh? 

An actual photograph of the "smooth" aggregate texture used above, didn't start out that way...

If you look closely, one side is lighter and the other darker.  That color difference (captured in the original photograph) will always cause problems.

To be useful (and realistic), the texture needs to be reworked to elimate large color differences and to make sure the aggragate swatch "repeats" in an elegant way...

   

For another example, using pavers...

  

When we take an untouched paver surface photo and apply it to a "Before" Photo... 

You end up with this…

Pretty darned awful. 

What you want to see are better "seamless" options... like this...

Or this...

or this...

Or even this...

 

That's the power of spending some time -- up front -- creating seamless textures for use in imaging projects.

 

BELGARD PAVERS - A CASE IN POINT

Virtually everyone in “surfaces” related industries, including homeowners, have heard of Belgard Pavers. They are a nationally recognized brand (owned by Oldcastle.) 

What competitive manufacturers could learn from Belgard, is they provide numerous tools for Contractors, Architects, and Designers to help specifiy Belgard Pavers in their projects.

One useful website (fun to explore) is BelgardDesignPro.com

If you click on most (not all) the Category 1 Patterns listed in their Technical Resource Center, you'll see links to "generic" seamless textures that are free to download. 

For example, look at the link for Mega-Bergerac...

 

http://www.belgarddesignpro.com/category1.htm?section=10

And note the downloadable CAD files (seamless textures) available to anyone who knows where to look.

  Thumbnail Sample

Large Seamless file:

http://www.belgarddesignpro.com/images/tiles/MegaBergerac_Brown_Charcoal_Red.jpg

In addition, Belgard offers Imaging Software to it's contractors (developed by Depiction Software) that helps them show off more potential projects:

http://www.belgardsoftware.com

Not only that, they are now offering an Online Visulizer (again developed by Depiction Software and populated with specific seamless textures, patterns and colors) so that homeowners can upload photos of their yard and test out the look of pavers in their yards:

http://www.belgardvisualizer.com

So, if Belgard is doing it, it's a good idea.  Right?

 

HOW TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS TO TURN INTO SEAMLESS TEXTURES

If you are at least convinced, by now, that having seamless textures of products you sell the most is a good idea, well, it ALL starts with the quality of the original paver surface photograph.

This should help clear up any confusion (hopefully)...

The key when taking photos of a paver or decorative concrete or acid stain or grass or flooring (you get the idea) surface is you first need to take a high-resolution photograph (not using a wide angle lens) of about a 4 foot by 4 foot area, and better yet, a 6 foot by 6 foot area. 

It's recommended that you climb up on a ladder and take a photo looking directly "down" on the surface. 

(In other words, do not stand on the ground and take your photos from that position because you will automatically add "perspective" by doing that... and seamless textures are created as "flat" surfaces -- without perspective -- so the software can manipulate it later for the perspective specific to the "image" you are imaging.)

 

Another example...

Again, look as straight down on the surface as you can...

 

Ideally, you want to have removed any sand and debris or even pay attention to NOT having shadows cast on the paver surface you are photographing...

Remember, don't stand on the paver surface and take the photo... it won't work to convert into a "high-quality" seamless texture.  And make sure it's not wet...

Pay attention to the colors, if one side is lighter, or darker, and if the pavers are fairly straight and "even"...

Know what the pattern set looks like and take a photo that has enough "pattern sets" within it so that we see enough of a variation...

Once we have the texture of the paver corrected, we can often "color match" additional colors in Adobe PhotoShop. 

(Word of caution... sometimes this works well... sometimes not so well.  If it's not working, it will be recommended that you set up a pattern with the correctly color pavers and take the photo of those.)

A good "original" photograph will convert well into a great seamless texture that will, in turn, make your hardscape images look exceptionally realistic.

We can even create seamless textures for walls...

  

SEAMLESS TEXTURE PRICING

If you would like to discuss HOW to create seamless textures and what the costs are you are welcome to phone DJSquireDesigns and we will actually end up referring you to someone at Depiction Software who will help you through the process.

Seamless texture pricing for decorative concrete, acid stains or other surfaces will usually cost between $25.00 to $60.00 unless the pattern is extremely complex.

 

Do call if you have questions... or are still confused.  ;-D