Texture Area Help

1. Getting Started

In the Texture Area you can create seamlessly tiled textures from photos or in general synthesize new images based on the elements of a source seed image. It's as simple as doing the following:

  1. Find an image that will be used as the source seed image: a photo with a pattern (for example a brick wall as in the screenshot examples used) or without any pattern (for example pebbles). Click the Seed Add button at the top-right corner of the Texture Synth area (the button with a + plus sign). You can add an image file, the currently open texture or copy an image from the clipboard.
  2. Click the Generate button at the bottom of the Texture Synth area.
  3. The generated texture gradually appears in the Texture Editor area at the left.

Sometimes seed images are harder to tile, so PixPlant includes a Seed Wizard which helps in preparing them for better tiling. You can also mask out elements of the image that you don't want to appear.

The Texture Area interface with a seed image at the right and a generated tiling texture at the left:

Texture Area Texture Area

2. Texture Editor

The Texture Editor is the large area at the left where the generated textures are displayed and edited. By pressing the Generate button, you can either generate an entire image or to an area, selected in the Texture Editor. When generating to an area, only the selected portion and a small periphery receive new pixels, carefully generated to integrate with the surrounding image.

Each time you press Generate, PixPlant creates a different image in the Texture Editor, so you can generate multiple times until an image you like or one that can be further refined by generating into its sub-areas is generated. The Undo and Redo buttons at the top can navigate back and forward through the most recent images.

A common workflow is to generate an initial full image and then selecting and generating only to image areas that need improvement, sometimes also unselecting certain seed image parts so that they do not appear in the new generated area.

The generated image can seamlessly tile horizontally and/or vertically by selecting this in the Tiling combo-box, before generating. When generating tiled images, the Texture Editor area will display a portion of repeated tiling of the generated image, with a grey line marking the limits of the main texture tile.

To offset the image in the Texture Editor, press the mouse wheel button (or in OS X you can also press Cmd and left mouse button or trackpad) and drag.

The Texture Editor can be zoomed with the mouse wheel and panned with the right mouse button (or in OS X also with Ctrl and left mouse button or trackpad).


Generate Button

The Generate button at the bottom of the Texture Synth area generates or synthesizes texture using the current seed image(s) and tiling settings. To abort generating a new texture, just click this button again (during generation the button label changes to "Cancel Generate"). A progress bar is displayed at the bottom of the window while the new texture is being generated.

If you're not happy with the generated image, just generate again (or press Undo and then Generate) as PixPlant will try to generate a different image each time.

The Auto check-box next to the Generate button causes generation to begin automatically after you change any parameter in the seed controls above.

Generate to an Area

Generate to an Area

To generate to a part of the image, select a rectangular area in the Texture Editor with the left mouse button. Then click the Generate button which will synthesize new pixels in that area and in a small periphery around it.

If generating to an area and that area does not change much when generated multiple times, you'll need to increase the size of the selected area or if you have more seed images of the same subject, try adding them to the seed list.

Texture Tiling Mode

Tiling Mode

On the bottom-left corner of the Texture Area you can find the Tiling mode combo-box where you can select whether the next generated image should seamlessly tile, horizontally and/or vertically.

If you select a tiling mode where the image tiles horizontally and/or vertically, you can offset the generated image in the Texture Editor.

The tiling mode is synchronized amongst all editors including the 3D Maps editors. They are always displayed in the bottom-left corner of the editor area and if you change one the other will also change - however in the Texture Area you need to generate again for the new tiling to be used.

Offsetting the Texture

Texture Offsetting

If you selected a tiling mode where the image tiles horizontally and/or vertically, you can offset the generated image by clicking the mouse wheel button (in OS X also Cmd and left mouse button or trackpad) and dragging the mouse in the Texture Editor area.

Full Screen Preview

Texture Fullscreen Preview

The full screen preview button in the top-right corner of the Texture Editor displays the currently generated texture across the entire screen area, at the current zoom level - this is very useful to examine repetition across the tiled texture.

You can pan the texture by pressing down the mouse and dragging. To return just press any key or click the right mouse button.

If the texture was generated with tiling, it will tile as necessary to fill the screen, otherwise the border pixels will repeat.

Extract 3D Maps

Texture Extract 3D Maps

This button sends the current texture in the Texture Editor to be extracted into 3D maps in the 3D Maps Area.

Select the relevant check-boxes for the maps you want to extract from the texture. If you only want to extract one of the maps, press Alt/Option while clicking and all the other maps will be disabled.

After the Extract button is clicked, the extract/import windows for each of the selected 3D maps will appear in succession.

All 3D maps can be imported from the Texture area except the Ambient Occlusion which must be rendered from a displacement map. In this case the Displacement check-box will automatically be selected and a displacement map will be imported prior to rendering the ambient occlusion.

3. Texture Synth

Texture Synth

The Texture Synth area is located at the right side of the Texture Area and includes the tools to synthesize textures from source seed images.

At the top of this area you can find the Seed List which displays currently loaded seed images, including the selected seed image marked with a highlighted border. All the controls below operate on the currently selected seed image.

Below the Seed List is the Seed Viewer control, where parts of the seed image can be out-selected so as not to appear in generated images.

Below the Seed Viewer area, a number of controls define how the seed image will be used to generate the texture - these are the seed parameters, described below.

Seed Add & Delete

To the right of the Seed List you'll find a + (plus) button which is the Seed Add button and a - (minus) button, the Seed Delete button. Pressing the Seed Add button opens a popup offering options to load a seed image from a file, from the current texture or from the clipboard and provides access to an online seed image search.
It's also possible to add a new seed by drag'n'drop from the system File Explorer/Finder or other applications. Multiple seed images and be opened or drag & dropped.

Seed images can be loaded in many commonly used image file formats or they can be drag & dropped into the Seed List or Seed Viewer areas.
With the "Paste Seed from Clipboard" popup option you can load an image previously copied to the system clipboard. This is very handy to transfer images from other graphics applications, from a web browser, etc.

You can also use the current image in the Texture Editor as a new seed by selecting "Load Seed from Texture". This is useful to retouch a loaded image or simply to later generate a new texture from the current texture.

Selecting the "Find Seeds Online..." option will open a new web browser window accessing an online area which contains a directory of publicly available seed images that can be used with PixPlant.

You can generate from multiple seed images - and it can be a good thing to increase variety in the generated image - as long as they are visually related, or PixPlant won't be able to use the images that don't share similarities.
For example: several pictures of a wall help to increase variety in the generated image, but adding unlike images will difficult PixPlant's work as visual similarities will be harder to find. When using multiple seeds it's also important to respect the size of the image elements, which must be as similar as possible between seed images.

Adding seed images will substitute any current seed images by the new one(s). To add to the existing seeds (without removing them), press the Shift key when you select an option from the Seed Add popup or when you drag & drop an image into the Seed List or Seed Viewer areas.
To reuse the same seed parameters as in the currently selected seed, press the AltOption key when you open or drop the file.

Next to the Seed Add button we have the Del button which removes the current image from the image list. Please note that the selected seed will only be removed from the Seed List, the actual source file will not be deleted.

Seed Viewer

The Seed Viewer area allows you to view the currently selected seed image and if necessary to remove parts which should not be used for generation.
The general view control options also apply to the Seed Viewer.

Seed Viewer Unselect Area

To unselect an area so that its pixels should not be used, just click and drag the mouse over this area: the unselected area will disappear into black and won't be used for generation.

To make a previously unselected area usable again, just click over that area and it will disappear and the pixels will be usable for generation.

Take care that unselecting most of the seed image can make PixPlant's work more difficult and slow as it will have less of the original image to be inspired from, potentially causing lower variety in the generated image.

Seed Wizard Window

The Seed Wizard window allows you to prepare a seed image for the best possible generation by fixing misalignments or perspective problems in the original seed image and defining a pattern if the seed has any. It can be opened by clicking the Seed Wizard button in the Texture Synth area or it can appear automatically when a new seed is loaded.

This wizard is specially important if you are looking to generate tiling images with repeated elements. In that case, it's important that the image is as aligned as possible with the horizontal and vertical sides and that its pattern is defined. To simplify your work, PixPlant tries to detect and correct these problems, however it's always a good idea to run this wizard on seed images.

The wizard has two steps:

Seed Wizard Step 1: Straighten Image

In the first step of the wizard you should select the four control points so that elements in the source image are mapped to be as aligned as possible to the four sides.
If for example the image is a wall with bricks, the brick sides should in general be as aligned as possible with the top, left, bottom and right sides of the middle area.

The selection of the control points can be done inside or outside the source image - this is chosen in the Selection combo-box. Which type is better depends on the source image, for example images with perspective or rotated elements are usually better straightened with Inside Image selection.

Inside Image selection can be done in the source image at the left where you can choose the four corners of the straightened image which is displayed at the right side:

Seed Wizard Step 1: Straighten Inside

In the above example the four control points were moved inside the source image at the left so that the individual bricks are as aligned as possible to the top, left, bottom and right sides as you can see in the straightened image at the right.

Inside Image selection can also be used to crop the image to an area of interest: this is done by selecting the four control points to form larger rectangle aligned with the original image sides. Try not to crop out too much of the image, so that more pixels are available to PixPlant.

On the other hand, Outside Image selection immediately shows the straightened image in the center, mapped by the control points around it:

Seed Wizard Step 1: Straighten Outside

As you can see above the control points are now outside the image at the center which is thus straightened.

If the image suffers from fisheye distortion, move the Correct FishEye Distortion slider at the top to minimize the distortion, so that image features are as little distorted as possible.

You can also set the selection to Initial values or Reset it to the image corners with the two buttons of the same name.

It's possible to display the wizard automatically when each seed is loaded by checking the Auto-Show check-box at the bottom-left.

Seed Wizard Step 2: Select Pattern

Seed Wizard Step 2: Pattern

The second step of the wizard asks if you see any pattern in the image elements and if so to select it. This is important if the image has any pattern and if you want to generate a tiling texture, otherwise you can ignore this step.
Although PixPlant automatically tries to detect the best pattern grid when the seed image is added, it is not possible in all cases to detect a good pattern, which can be specified or corrected here.

If the image does have a pattern, click on the main area and drag the mouse: you'll notice that a grid is displayed over the image - make sure this grid is as aligned as possible with the repeating pattern in the image so that each pattern element is inside a grid cell. If the pattern in the image is somewhat irregular, try setting the grid that covers most of its repeating elements as well as possible.

Seed Pattern Quality Indicator

While you select the pattern, the indicator at the top-left will show the quality of the pattern as understood by PixPlant. If the new pattern is the best found so far, selection will lock around the new pattern - in this case to continue selecting drag the mouse away from the current pixel which will clear the lock. This indication of pattern quality might not work for patterns with low contrast, in that event just select the best pattern you can.

Two more options are available in this window: a button to reset the pattern to the best previously detected and another button to reset to the initially detected pattern.

Note that in some cases it's not possible to use a perfect grid, in those cases the best grid that covers most of the elements must be used instead.
What if the image does not have a pattern? In this case, simply press the "No Pattern" button at the bottom, to tell PixPlant not to worry about patterns for this seed.

A few examples of selected grids - notice how the selected rectangle and the grid it defines contain the tiling pattern elements:

Seed Pattern Example
Seed Pattern Example
Seed Pattern Example
Seed Pattern Example

On this last example no visual pattern exists and the "No Pattern" button at the bottom should be pressed.

Select Pattern Window

Select Pattern Button

The Seed Pattern window is the same as the second step of the Seed Wizard window allowing you to define a pattern in the seed image. Besides being the second step of the wizard, this window is more readily available by clicking the Select Pattern button.

Although PixPlant automatically tries to detect the best pattern grid when the seed image is added, it is not possible in all cases to detect a good pattern, which can be corrected or set by using this window.

If the Seed Pattern button label is highlighted as in the image above, this means PixPlant thinks you should take a look at the detected pattern to correct or disable it. Important: make sure you have first straightened the image as much as possible in the Seed Wizard window.

For more information about defining a pattern or disabling it, see the Seed Wizard Step 2.

Equalize Seed

Seed Controls

Select one or both these check-boxes to equalize and filter the luminosity and/or color of the current seed image.

Selecting these options creates a more homogeneous seed image, which simplifies image generation specially when generating seamless textures.

Because it is usually very useful, the light equalization setting is automatically enabled when a seed image is added. However if you notice the image intensity changing in undesired ways, it might be a good idea to uncheck it.

Seed Scale

In the Seed Scale settings you can define the scale of the current seed image. Besides influencing the size of the seed elements in the generated image, the seed scale is important for correct tiling, so that image elements can spatially "meet" at the sides of the generated image or there can be no seamless tiling (this is only true for seed images with patterns, others don't need to tile as they don't have a regular pattern).

The Width and Height sliders change the width and height scale of the current seed image and by moving these sliders you can set the size and proportion of the seed elements that will appear in the generated image. Scale ranges from 25% to 250%. To set the default 100% scale, just click on the 'Width:' or 'Height:' text labels of the sliders.
You'll notice that the sliders will stick to certain values after being moved: this happens because of the Lock (at the right of the sliders) and Snap (above the sliders) settings.

Seed Scale Lock

If the Lock button at the right of the sliders is set, both Width and Height values will be locked to be the same. But the Width and Height values might not actually be the same if the "Snap Scale to Seed Pattern" setting is enabled: in this case the values will be locked to be as similar as possible while still respecting the snap restriction.

When the Snap Scale to Seed Pattern option is checked, the seed scale values are forced to the best values for optimal tiling of seed images containing regular elements. When checked, this setting will force the seed scale sizes to the best values so that image elements spatially "meet" at the generated image edges.

If Snap Scale to Seed Pattern is disabled out, the seed pattern is unknown and no tilling snap is performed: in this case edit the Select Pattern setting above to select a pattern. When used with Seed Scale Lock, the Seed Width and Height Scales will snap to the nearest possible proportions, however they might not be equal. If the seed image does not contain regular elements, this setting is not useful and can be disabled.

Add Seed Symmetry

The Symmetry settings allow PixPlant to generate with symmetric variations of the seed, which can improve generation specially if the seed does not contain regular repeated elements. Selecting any of the 'Horizontal', 'Vertical' or '180°' options will allow PixPlant to explore those symmetries when generating from this seed.

Take care that when generating from a seed image with highly regular elements, as using these settings might generate undesirable visual symmetries in the generated image.

Parallel Synth

Parallel Synth

Parallel Synth applies equivalent synthesis operations to multiple seed images. With this feature you can make multiple 3D maps (the slaves) tileable and synchronized among themselves, based on one of them (the master).

For example setting a normal map as the master and then adding a diffuse, specular and ambient occlusion maps as slaves you can create synchronized tileable versions of all these maps. This can be very useful for example if you have 3D maps captured from live materials and want to make tileable versions of them.

Maps generated in Parallel Synth are not restricted to the 3D map types currently supported in PixPlant (like diffuse, displacement, specular, etc) so you can generate and make tileable any other kinds of maps like roughness or metallic maps for example. This can be done via the "Save to File" functionality.

To use Parallel Synth you need to:

  1. Load a seed image in the regular way - this will be the master.
  2. Click the Parallel Synth check-box, right above the Generate button at the bottom: the Parallel Synth will expand.
  3. Select from the Master Target combo-box a 3D map to which it will be sent. Or select the "Save to File" option which will prompt you for a file location to where it will be saved.
  4. Next we choose seed images for the slaves: either click on the "Seed..." buttons or directly drag'n'drop an image over them. Thumbnails of the images will appear in the buttons.
  5. And finally we need to set the slave targets: after adding the slave seed (or later by clicking the combo-box) select a target 3D map to which it will be sent. Or select the "Save to File" option which will prompt you for a file location to where it will be saved.
  6. Now click the Generate button which will synthesize a tiling texture while in parallel synthesizing synchronized versions of the slave seed images into targets in the 3D Maps area or into files as you selected.

Take care that if one of the target maps was selected as a normal map - the "Normal (+Displacement)" label in the combo-box - after generation completes an "Extract Displacement from Normal Map" dialog will appear so the normal map can be integrated into a displacement map. On this dialog, make sure the "Flip Source Normal Y" setting is correct, by looking at the displacement surface below - this only needs to be checked once initially for the given normal map.
This happens because displacement maps and normal maps in PixPlant are just two views over the same surface, so displacement needs to be extracted from normal maps. Alternatively, you can always set the target to "Save to File" and the normal map will be directly saved and not extracted.

It's usually a good idea to use the diffuse or normal seed images as master as they contain more color information than for example the respective displacement or specular map. More color information will usually result in better parallel synthesis.

The maximum number of slaves has a default value of 4 but this can be increased up to 14 by doing the following:

  1. Close all instances of PixPlant.
  2. Open the PixPlant settings file at: (change <USER> to your user name)
    Windows: C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Roaming\pixplant3settings.txt
    Mac OS X: /Users/<USER>/Library/Preferences/pixplant3settings.txt
  3. Add the following line at the end of the file, changing # to the maximum number of possible slaves between 4 and 14:
  4. Take care not to change anything else, save the file and launch PixPlant.

The following restrictions over regular Texture Synth apply when you use Parallel Synth: only a seed image can be used for the master; the seed symmetry controls are not available and the generated texture in the Texture Editor at the left cannot be offset.

4. Paint Tools

Texture Paint Tools

The Paint Tools area next to the Texture Synth area includes image editing tools similar to the ones found in common graphics editors, like paint, clone, blur and sharpen painting tools. These tools can be very useful to retouch small details of the generated textures.

The settings have well-known names and should be straightforward to use:

You'll find tools similar to the above in other editors of the 3D Maps area (Diffuse, Displacement, Specular, etc).

5. Shortcut Keys

The following shortcut keys are available in the Texture Area:

Action Shortcut
Create New Texture Ctrl + N
Open Texture Ctrl + O
Save Texture Ctrl + S
Close Texture Ctrl + W
Undo Ctrl + Z
Redo Ctrl + Y
Copy Texture Ctrl + C
Paste as New Texture Ctrl + V
External Edit Texture Ctrl + E
Load Seed from File Ctrl + I
Load Seed from Texture Editor Ctrl + T
Paste Seed from Clipboard Ctrl + B
Clear Seeds Ctrl + Shift + L
Generate Ctrl + G
Extract 3D Maps Ctrl + M
Texture Editor Zoom-in Ctrl + +
Texture Editor Zoom-out Ctrl + -
Zoom Editor Contents to Fit View Ctrl + 9
Zoom Texture Editor 100% Ctrl + 0
Action Shortcut
Create New Texture Cmd + N
Open Texture Cmd + O
Save Texture Cmd + S
Close Texture Cmd + W
Undo Cmd + Z
Redo Cmd + Shift + Z
Copy Texture Cmd + C
Paste as New Texture Cmd + V
External Edit Texture Cmd + E
Load Seed from File Cmd + I
Load Seed from Texture Editor Cmd + T
Paste Seed from Clipboard Cmd + B
Clear Seeds Cmd + Shift + L
Generate Cmd + G
Extract 3D Maps Cmd + M
Texture Editor Zoom-in Cmd + +
Texture Editor Zoom-out Cmd + -
Zoom Texture Editor to Fit View Cmd + 9
Zoom Texture Editor 100% Cmd + 0

© PixPlant/FaronStudio · All trademarks are the property of their respective owners · Photos by Ben Cloward