Hi everyone! Welcome to a quick tutorial breaking down how you can create your own seamless textures in Affinity Photo using your favorite pixel brush, and a really cool feature, “Pattern Layers.”
What are Pattern Layers?
Pattern layers take a bitmap image and tile it across a canvas. You can create your own by painting the repeated object on with a brush, or you can create a pattern from a pixel object, image or layer.
The ability to create a repeat out of a layer is what we’re going to take advantage of in this tutorial. When we’re done, our texture will be seamlessly repeated so that it can be used in surface patterns, as texture for brushes, or anything else you would want seamless texture for.
Creating the Pattern Layer
Let’s start with our canvas. Typically, when you’re creating seamless textures, especially for digital brushes, you want your canvas to be at least 3000×3000 pixels at 300 dpi, so that you can be sure that, no matter what size you use it, you’re not going to run in to pixelation.
I also want to make sure I have a transparent canvas, which will become important later in the process. So, here are my canvas settings:
Now that I have my canvas set up, I want to create a pattern layer to work with. There are two ways to create this, either by starting from scratch with a blank pattern tile, or creating one from a pixel selection.
The problem with creating one from scratch is that the largest size repeat tile you can create, by design, is 1024 pixels. You could still use this to create your texture but you’ll be forced to work with a scaled down version of your texture. I prefer to start with as large of a texture tile as I can and scale it down if I want to, but have the option of leaving it larger. (remember, you can scale pixels down without issues but scaling them up can create pixelation.)
Instead of starting from scratch, I’m going to give Photo a selection to work with and create a tile that is the size of the full canvas. I’ll start by dragging out a pure white rectangle that’s 3000 pixels. I want to rasterize the rectangle as soon as I create it because that’s going to allow me to create the pattern layer (Photo will not create pattern layers from vectors).
Once my rectangle is in place and rasterized, I can select it with my Move Tool, go to my Layer Panel, tap the plus sign at the top and choose, “Pattern Layer From Selection.”
This is going to create a duplicate of my original layer which will be named, “Pattern.”
Once my Pattern Layer is in place, I want to turn off the original layer as I don’t need it anymore; at least not until I want to create another pattern layer for a different texture.
From here, we’re ready to grab our favorite pixel brush and create the seamless texture. Ready for something magical?
Grab a Brush and Start Painting
I’m going to create a grainy texture with one of the Sprays and Splatters brushes that are built in to Photo. I’m using the Watercolor Drops brush, set to pure black, and I want to set the size of the brush to a larger size, about 800 pixels.
You can start with whatever you would like, however, the smaller the brush, the more difficult it will be to create a nice, even layer of texture without “giveaway” spots. (darker or uneven areas that are obvious repeats throughout the seamless texture)
I’ll start laying down the watercolor texture, being careful not to focus on any one spot for two long (again avoiding those givewaway spots) and, as I hit the edges of the canvas, you’ll see that it automatically repeats on the other side. Cool right?
Once I have an initial texture laid down, I can go back in to spots that I feel need a bit more, and add. I can also grab a completely different brush and add some more texture that way. Building up different textures can be a fun way to create really unique, one of a kind textures for any project. (if you’re creating digital brushes with these textures, you’re definitely going to want to build up a texture of your own using combinations to create something different than the brush you started with!)
Alright, so, this is great but, what if I want just the texture and not the white background? Since we rasterized the rectangle, we can’t just turn it off so instead, we’re going to use one of my favorite filters, “Erase White Paper.”
Getting Rid of the White Background with Erase White Paper
Under the Filters Section, which is listed alphabetically, you’ll find a filter called, “Erase White Paper.” I’m not going to go in to too much detail about it in this tutorial, however you can find a full tutorial on it on my YouTube channel. The short story on this amazing filter is you can use it to remove the white background from things like scans of your line work or, in this case, the white part of the texture layer.
Because we used pure white, it makes it super easy and can be done in a single click. Once I tap it, it will remove all traces of the white background, leaving the pure black and mid tone grays from the texture. It will be difficult to see in a picture, so, try it on your own, and you’ll see the transparent background showing through. (this is why it was important to set your canvas up as transparent… it’s one less step, not having to turn it off later)
How Do I Know it’s Seamless?
There are two ways you can check and ensure everything went as planned and you have a seamless texture.
Option 1: Scale Down the Pattern Layer
First, you can grab your Move tool and size the Pattern Layer down. When you scale your pattern down, if you don’t see any lines and everything matches up, you’re good to go.
Option 2: Use the Affine Filter
The other way you can test it is to use the Affine Filter, which offsets your tile to the four corners of your canvas. When you do that, again, if you see no obvious seams, you’re all set.
To use the Affine Filter:
- Select Affine Filter in the Filters Panel
- Shift the offset of the X and Y axis 50% using the contextual menu at the side. Both are in the same slider. Once you offset the one axis tap the label under the slider to switch to the other and repeat.
- Once you have offset both axis 50%, if you don’t see a seam, you have a seamless texture.
Want to see a tutorial on how you can use this filter to create seamless textures from images? Find the tutorial here on my YouTube channel.
Play Around, Try Different Brushes & Combinations
That’s it! That’s how easy it is to create seamless textures using your favorite pixel brushes and the Pattern Layer feature in Affinity Photo.
Just remember a few tips:
- Try to avoid heavy handed spots where texture builds up too much. These are giveaways that can easily be spotted, especially when you scale your textures down.
- All elements have to be pixel based. You can’t use vectors here, however, you can rasterize vector objects and pull them in.
- Set your DPI accordingly. Remember, we’re using pixels here so when you set your canvas, set your dpi to at least 300 so you don’t run in to any pixelation.
- Experiment with different brushes and brush sizes. Some may not work the way you would like but try using them at different sizes and see if you can get as close as you can to what you were aiming for.
- Have fun with it! Test out different brushes, use different combinations, you can even add in pixel shapes or other objects to add a bit of additional dimension.
That’s a Wrap!
Can you see yourself using Pattern Layer to create your own seamless textures? If so, what brushes do you think you’ll try out? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks so much for checking out the tutorial! If you would like to see more ways you can use the Pattern Layer tool in Affinity Photo, along with several other cool tools, check out my class, “Surface Pattern Design: Efficiency Hacks in Affinity Photo & Designer”
Here’s a peek at the intro! Happy Creating!
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