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How to Make Seamless Textures for Cinema 4D
Learn some Photoshop wizardry that will allow you to make seamless textures for Cinema 4D from just about any image, even iPhone photos!
There are countless resources out there for finding textures you can use to build materials in Cinema 4D. Sometimes, though, you need something specific and you have to build your own image asset. You can find a piece of stock or even use your iPhone, but if you don't have the Photoshop chops to make that image seamless, its usefulness will be limited.
In this tutorial, you will learn several techniques (some of them quite advanced) to help you turn almost any image into a seamless texture. Joey will walk you through prepping 3 different images, each one more difficult than the last, as he turns them into seamless 2K and 4K textures. If you're a Cinema 4D artist (or would like to be one soon) this skill will be invaluable to you.
And if you're not ready to make your own textures, check out our Ultimate Guide to Free Textures for Cinema 4D.
Photoshop Tips to Make Seamless Textures for Cinema 4D
Download the Project Files & Assets
Why not download the original images Joey uses in this lessons so you can follow along and practice this technique yourself? You'll also get the finished Photoshop files, plus a bonus Cinema 4D project you can use to test out your own seamless materials.
Download the raw images and final textures from this video!Download Now
How to Make Your Textures Seamless in Photoshop
Let's walk through a few examples of textures, starting with an easy one. If you take your own photos to use as textures, try to find surfaces that have very even lighting, as they are far easier to deal with.
Create a new Photoshop document at your target texture resolution
In this first example, we'll use this picture of asphalt to create a 2K texture. In ye—olden days before we had dedicated GPUs and fast, modern algorithms—it was necessary to create textures at resolutions that were based on powers of 2 (6, 32, 64, 128, etc...) While that generally isn't the case anymore, it's still common to use this convention, so let's create a 2048x2048 (2K) comp.
Copy over your image and Crop out all excess image data
You don't want extra image data present outside the bounds of your Photoshop document, so here's an easy trick to get rid of it. After scaling down your image inside the 2K comp to preserve as much detail as possible, Select All (Cmd + A) then Copy (Cmd + C) then Paste (Cmd + V). You now have a "clean" version of your texture.
Run the Offset Command to test for seams
With your image layer selected, select Filter > Other > Offset in the top menu. This brings up the offset command which will shift all of the pixels in an image vertically and horizontally depending on your settings. It will also wrap edge pixels around to the opposite side of the image, showing you very clearly where there are seams.
Use the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp to Remove the seams
Using the Spot Healing Brush (J) and the Clone Stamp (S) you can make quick work of the seams in your image. In addition to removing the seams, also try to remove any parts of the texture that jump out at you because those areas will stand out once you tile the texture in Cinema 4D.
Check the texture by repeatedly running the Offset command
Use the keyboard shortcut to Repeat Last Filter (Cmd + Ctrl + F). This will run the offset command again giving you an opportunity to check your handiwork. Still see some seams? Fix 'em and run the command again. Rinse and repeat until your texture is done!
Dealing with Uneven Lighting
In the example above, the lighting at the top of the texture is much brighter than at the bottom. In many cases this is unavoidable, so you'll need to deal with this in Photoshop in order to make a seamless texture. Look at what happens when you run the Offset command.
Create two copies of your image
To deal with this lighting issue, first create two copies of your image. Name the bottom layer "Color" and the top layer "Detail." Keep a copy of your original image as a separate layer for reference.
Run the Blur > Average filter on the Color layer
The Average blur looks at your image and finds the average color of every single pixel in it. It then fills your layer with that color. Pretty nifty!
Run a High Pass Filter on the Detail Layer
Now that you've created the base color for your texture, you can pull out the details on the Detail layer. You want to use a High Pass filter. This very useful filter will fill your layer with 50% grey, then create an embossed version of any high-frequency detail it finds. You can adjust this filter to taste, and you should try to match the original image as much as possible.
Set the Detail Layer's Blending Mode to Linear Light
With your Color and Detail layers set up, you can now composite them together. Use either the Hard Light or Linear Light blending modes, trying each one, and sticking with the option that makes your texture match the original image as closely as you can.
Adjust the Opacity of the Detail Layer to Taste
The High Pass Filter and Linear Light Mode combo is potent, so you may need to dial back the amount of texture you're seeing by lowering the opacity on the Detail layer. It's helpful to overlay the original image while you do this for reference.
Merge your layers, Run Offset, remove seams, rinse, repeat
Once you've eliminated the lighting difference in your image, you can merge your Color and Detail layers together, and then run the standard SeamBusting™ protocol from the asphalt example above. Voilà! You now have a seamless texture that would be tricky to get any other way.
Dealing with Advanced Challenges in Images
Sometimes you really want to make a texture out of an image that wasn't really intended for this purpose. In these situations, you need to pull out the big guns and use some advanced Photoshop techniques to get the result you're after.
First identify the areas you'll need to address
The picture above doesn't have many things going for it as far as being usable as a texture. The picture was taken off-axis, creating a perspective distortion. The top of the door is closer to the lights than the bottom, so we have a lighting change. The color of the door is also very uneven, so using our Blur > Average trick won't work. What can we do?
Remove Perspective Distortion with the Transform Tool
First, set up some guides to help you line up the edges of the door, and then use the Transform Tool (Cmd + T) in Perspective Mode (Ctrl + Click on the Layer while in Transform Mode) to transform the door layer, lining it up with your guides. This step takes a little practice.
Duplicate the layer and blur the top copy
You'll be setting up your layers similarly to the drywall example, with a Color layer on top of a Detail layer. On the color layer, use the Blur > Gaussian Blur filter to blur out all high-frequency detail from your image. You want to retain the color variation, though, so don't go crazy.
Invert the colors on your blurred layer
Run Invert (Cmd + i) on your blurred layer. This may seem like an odd step, but it will soon become clear why you're doing it. For now, just trust us. I mean, when have we ever led you astray? Well, there was that one time.
Clean up any areas that stick out with the Spot Healing Brush or Clone Stamp
Any areas of color that jump out at you will also stick out when you tile your texture, so clean up what you can now. Use the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp tools to make short work of the problem areas. A Gaussian Blur can also help soften some of the harder areas.
Set the opacity of the blurred layer to 50%
It might be obvious at this point why you inverted the colors on your blurred layer. By inverting the colors and then overlaying them on top of the original, you've basically neutralized the lighting and minimized color variation while still retaining a bit of the overall coloring.
Adjust each channel's levels to bring back contrast
Merge your two layers together (Cmd + E), then apply the Levels adjustment. Adjust each channel individually, moving the white and black input arrows closer together to bracket the darkest and brightest parts of each channel, maximizing contrast.
Use the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp to Clean up the result
There's still a door knob in this image. We don't like door knobs. We also need to get rid of that obnoxious horizontal line towards the top of the door. We'll use our favorite texture cleanup tools to get rid of the offensive parts.
Match the color to the original image
Using the Eyedropper Tool (i) grab a color swatch from the original photo. Create a New Layer (Shift + Cmd + N) and Fill it with your Foreground Color (Option + Delete). Set this layer to use your merged texture as a clipping mask, then set the transfer mode to color. Now the color of your merged later will more closely match the original.
Bring out more contrast with Levels
Merge all of your texture layers together, then run the Levels adjustment on the result to bring out more contrast and to match the original image more closely. We're in the home stretch now! Stay the course! Fight the war!
Remove any vignetted parts of the image to create a patch
Clean up any extraneous details in your image, and then use the Marquee Tool (M) to create a selection of the clean part of your texture. Keep this part and remove everything else. Now you're ready to clone this patch to fill your frame.
Copy this patch as many times as you need to fill the canvas
In this example we're making a 4K (4096x4096) texture. The patch we've created isn't big enough to fill that space, but we can duplicate it 6 times and then arrange the duplicates randomly to fill the frame. Then we merge all of the laters and remove seams with the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp.
Run the Offset Command and Clean up any final seams or details
You know the next part. Run the Offset command and clean up any additional seams that show up. Also, be on the lookout for details that stick out which might catch your eye when you tile this texture in Cinema 4D.
Presto! Seamless Textures from Any Image
And that, my friends, is how it's done. Using different combinations of the techniques you've learned here, you can turn just about any image into a seamless texture. Now all you need to learn is what to do with your new textures.
Master Modeling, Texturing, and More in Cinema 4D
If you dug this lesson, you might just fall in love with our 12-week Cinema 4D course, Cinema 4D Basecamp. EJ takes you from C4D rookie to experienced pro over the course of several real-world projects and challenges.
Cinema 4D Basecamp is designed for artists who want to add 3D to their toolkit, but who don't know where to start. Check out the information page to find out more about this exciting course. See you in class!