Acrylic Tutorial: Using Photos to Texture Background Fills
In Acrylic, you can create the look of painting on a textured piece of paper by using the Paper Texture feature.|
The way the paper texture feature works is that dark parts of the image that is selected for use as the paper texture become transparent. This tutorial shows how you can use your own images and photographs to define paper textures. It also shows how you can infuse photographic elements into your artwork, controlling the colors and transparency settings to integrate them seamlessly with your image. This approach can be used to add interest and realism to your work without introducing the collagey 'cut and paste' feel that normally results when adding an imported bitmap directly to your drawings.
Basic drawing with no textures applied...|
... and with custom grass and tree branch textures
Creating the grass texture
- Get a photo of some background object you wish to use as your texture (e.g.
grasses, leaves, etc.) and place it in the Textures folder in the Acrylic directory (e.g. in "Documents and Settings/All Users/Application Data/Microsoft/Acrylic/Textures"). .bmp, .jpg and .gif formats all work. You may find it useful to play around with contrast enhancement to boost or reduce the amount of detail in the image.
- Open a new Acrylic document and, in the default vector layer, create a rectangle filled with solid black as a background with no paper textures enabled.
- Create a second rectangle and use a gradient fill (e.g. yellow to green) to fill it with. Then, with this rectangle selected, set the Paper texture to the photo you imported into the Acrylic directory. The paper texture you select will ONLY be applied to the selected object. Try repeating this with a second and third rectangle and overlap to create more complex, less recognizable textures
- Draw a shape around the portion of the image that you want to keep and use the "Objects / Clipper / Make with Top Path" command to isolate the part of the image you want to keep.
- For more flexibility in working with the texture (e.g. stretching and distorting it), export it as an image file and then import it into a new drawing
Creating the tree branch texture
You can take advantage of the transparency aspect of the textured image to create transparent regions in your background fill. To create a more realistic looking drawing of a tree, you can use a photo of some tree branches as a texture for the tree's leaves.
- You first need to create a paper texture image that is the negative image of the tree branches. To do this, create a new pixel layer (Layers/New/Pixel Layer), import the photo and invert the image (Image / Invert). It is important that the negative image have an all-black sky, so the sky region will be rendered as transparent. You can achieve this either by painting in the sky region or by using the Image / Threshold command to filter out any detail in the sky. Export the resulting image as an image file and store it in the AcrylicTexture folder.
- To apply the texture, go to the picture of the tree you wish to apply it to, select the filled polygon you wish to apply the texture to, click on the Paper texture button and select the image you stored in the Texture folder. You'll find that when you first apply the texture, you may not pick up the part of the texture image that you want to use. Try adding nodes to the shape you applied the texture to and pull the nodes around until the correct part of the texture image is being used. You can then drag the shape into position.
- To create the effect of tree branches, overlap a large number of shapes (each with a slightly different gradient and portion of the textured image for variety) and then overlay everything with a partially transparent untextured gradient shape to soften the effect a bit. Export as a gif image with the alpha channel enabled and re-import it into the actual tree on a hill drawing. You can then distort the tree's leaf canopy without affecting the image used as the texture.
Texture based on a photo of tree branches after being thresholded and inverted:|
Copyright ©2004-2005 Brian Cruickshank
Copyright© Brian Cruickshank 2002-2004
All graphics, photographs, drawings, animation and music on this site are copyrighted to Brian Cruickshank except as noted here and are downloadable for personal non-commercial use only.