Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Image Textures
Procedural texturing is very powerful; however, sometimes it is difficult or impossible to generate the desired realism with them. Image texturing is there for you when you need it. To review, the basic idea is to take an outside image and wrap it around your model. You can use any texture, or a seamless one if you want it to repeat to get a tiled effect. The following shows how you create a seamless texture, and then how to apply any texture (seamless or otherwise) to an object.
The difference between 'tiled' and 'seamless'
In many cases a simple material will just not cut it for an object, and you will want to apply a texture to it. However, depending on the object, you may want to apply either a seamless or tileable texture. A seamless texture is an image that will, when applied to an object, spread evenly across the surface of the object without any visible borders or 'seams' even if the object is many times larger than the resolution of the image (also called 'procedural textures' in Blender). These can be useful in many situations; such as when you want a texture for a carpet to seamlessly repeat itself without having a huge resolution.
A tileable texture on the other hand, is an image that will repeat itself across an object, but with noticeable seams. Any image can be used as a tileable texture, but often they will only be used in specific instances such as a vinyl floor with a tiled pattern on it.
How to make a tileable texture with the GIMP
It is easy to create a tiling texture image with the GIMP. Start with the photo you want to use. Crop out any part you don’t want. Here’s an example random photo of some plants in my garden:
Go to Gimp’s “Filters” menu, and find the “Map” submenu. In here you will find the entry “Make Seamless”. Select it. That’s it:
Just to prove it works, here’s a (scaled-down) use of the result as a tiled fill pattern:
Other Image Texture Editors
- Wood Workshop A free utility (Requires Operating System: Windows 2000/XP) that generates surprisingly high quality tiling wood texture images. These textures can be exported as standard image files for use within Blender.
- MapZone A free utility for Windows (works perfectly in Wine) that generates node based procedural texture maps. Mapzone can export diffuse, normal and alpha texture maps as standard image files. It can also import SVG regions created with Blender's UV mapping tools.
Mapping an Image Texture to an Object
Now that you have an image, either a seamless one as above, or any image at all, you can apply it as a texture on an object. To do this:
- Make sure you are in the Materials panel of the Properties Window
- Highlight the material where you want your image to appear
- Now, switch to the Image panel of the Properties Window
- Click on one of the unnamed textures in the texture list and click on the 'New' button below it
- Blender will automatically create a 'Clouds' image texture. Click on the Texture Type drop down menu and change the type from 'Clouds' to 'Image or Movie'
- In the Image window further down, click Open and navigate to your image on your computer and Open it. Once loaded, your image will appear tiled in the Preview window.
To see the image on your object, you'll need to Render it using the Render menu or F12
See Using Textures for more details on applying images as textures, and using them to affect many other surface attributes such as luminosity, reflectivity, translucency, displacement etc.