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Learning Corel TEXTURE

© 1997 by Peter McCormick. All Rights Reserved.

This is the first in a series of two articles on Corel TEXTURE. This first article will take you through the process of creating a texture using the Texture Wizard. When the last step in the wizard is completed we'll examine the various properties that were used to make up the texture created by the wizard. By learning how these properties affect the texture's appearance you'll discover how to create textures of your own. The second article will build on what you learned in this first article. One of the things you will learn is how to add a bump map image, created in CorelDRAW, so that it creates a relief effect.

Corel TEXTURE is a stand alone program included in the suite of applications found in the CorelDRAW 7 (or 8) box. If you used the typical install method when you installed CorelDRAW 7 (or 8) it was not automatically installed. Therefore, before you can use Corel TEXTURE you must run the setup program a second time and choose custom from the list of installation options. When the Components screen appears, click on the + button next to Graphic Utilities to reveal the list of utilities. Select Corel TEXTURE and finish the re-installation process.

Your first thought when you see the word texture might be, "I have more textures than I know what to do with". With all the bitmap applications and dozens upon dozens of CD's available that include textures of every imaginable type, why would you need more textures. The answer lies in the fact that although the aforementioned sources do indeed have what seems to be a plethora of textures, they rarely have the exact texture you need. Corel TEXTURE solves the problem of having to except something that only comes close to what you had in mind. Corel TEXTURE lets you create textures by controlling the various texture properties in a way that is intuitive and easy to use. This adds up to the fact that you can create the exact texture you need for your projects. And as always, you will also experience a few Happy Accidents along the way.

Figure 1

Let's begin learning how to use Corel TEXTURE. Open Corel TEXTURE and click on File | New (CTRL+N). The "Start New Texture" screen appears as shown in Figure 1. Click on the radio button next to Texture Wizard and then click on the New button. The "Welcome to the Texture Wizard" screen appears telling you that the wizard will walk you through the necessary steps to create a texture as shown in Figure 2. Click on the Next button to continue. The "Choose dimensions for your texture" screen appears as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

For this exercise we are going to create a background for a business card. Leave the resolution setting at the default 72dpi, we'll change it later. Enter the number 724 in the texture width parameters box and 424 in the Texture Height parameters box. These numbers will give us a file measuring 2.12 inches by 3.62 inches at 200 dpi. The extra .12 inches added to the width and height allows for any error in trimming when working with a full bleed. When you have entered the new numbers, click on the Next button and the "Choose the type of texture you'd like to make" screen will appear as shown in Figure 4.

This screen lets you choose one of four different materials or a logo. For this exercise choose Wood and click on the Next button to reveal the "Choose a Color Scheme for your wood" screen as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5

Click on the Oak radio button and then click on the Next button to display the "Choose the amount of turbulence you'd like" screen shown in Figure 6. This time choose Burl and click on the Next button.

Figure 6

The "Select a cut through a block of wood that appeals to you" screen will now appear as shown in Figure 7. We chose diagonal. If you would like to try something different, go for it, but remember to click on the Next button when you're done.

Figure 7

The next screen to appear is called "Choose a lighting setup for your texture" as shown in Figure 8. Choose Fat Light from this screen and click on the Next button.

Figure 8

The "Choose an edge geometry for your texture" screen offers four choices as shown in Figure 9. Click on each of the choices to see the effect that could be created. (Figure 10 shows what your file would look like if you had chosen Picture Frame). The picture frame choice is great to frame your masterpieces created in CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT. For this exercise choose Flat and click on the Finish button.

Figure 9

Figure 10

At this point you have finished creating your texture. The next step would be to render the image to a file on your hard drive. Before we do this, it's time to discuss the various elements that make up your texture. Each texture is made up of a series of layers. Each layer contains specific properties that affect the texture. The combination of all these layers determine the look of the final texture. Learning how to adjust and control these layers will reveal the unlimited possibilities that are available to you.

Figure 11 is the first screen you see after clicking on the finish button in the previous screen. The texture created by the wizard is shown in the preview widow at the upper left. Taking up most of the screen on the right is the Shader Layer dialog box containing various controls and options. The Shader layer shown at the left of the screen is the middle layer in the layer stacking order. You can add additional Shader layers to change the look of the texture. For this exercise we will stay with a single Shader layer. First, practice moving these sliders and see the changes that are made to the grain in the wood. Next click on the down arrow on the Algorithm drop down list to reveal other types of texture such as Marble and Clouds. We want to end up with a wood texture so when you leave this drop down list choose Wood. The Blend list box shows Opaque as the selected blend. Click on the down arrow in this list box to reveal the other choices. If we added a Shader layer above the bottom most Shader layer, we could choose one of the other options in this list box. However, because we only have one Shader layer we must choose Opaque or we will end up with a checker board pattern when the texture is rendered. The color bar at the bottom of the Shader layer dialog box represents the different colors making up the colors in the wood texture shown in Figure 11. The colors in the color bar can be changed by dragging a new color from the color palette onto the top of the pins located in color bar. If you decide to try changing colors remember to Edit |Undo (Ctrl +Z) after each color change if you don't want to change the color scheme permanently. Finally, Click on the down arrow of the Shader Layer bar at the top of the Shader Layer dialog box. A drop down list will display three options that will alter the look of the texture. If you select one of these options, remember to click on Edit | Undo again or you will lose the settings created by the Wizard.

Figure 11

Let's learn more about the various layers by clicking on the Surface Properties layer to display the Surface Properties dialog box shown in Figure 12. The Surface Properties controls define certain characteristics of the texture's surface and govern how the lighting properties interact with the Shader layers. Practice moving the slider controls to see the effect they have on the texture shown in the preview window. You can click on the down arrow of the Surface Properties bar at the top of the dialog box and try using the options available in the drop down list but be sure to click on Edit | Undo after each change unless you are satisfied with the change.

Figure 12

The next layer is the lighting layer. To display the lighting layer click on one of the light bulbs suspended above the other layers. The Lighting Property controls are used to illuminate the texture's surface. There are three lights that can be switched on or off by clicking on the buttons next to each light. Although you don't need to switch on any lights to see a texture's surface, you can use lights to add highlight or shadow to the texture. Moving lights is a matter of clicking on the light pin and dragging it to a new position in the dialog box. Coloring lights is done by clicking in the color palette and dragging out on to the light pin.

Figure 13

The one exception to the rule of not needing lights to display a texture is when you add a topography or edge effect other than Flat in the Form and Geometry dialog box discussed next. At least one light must be turned on to display a topography style or edge effect.

Figure 14

The bottom layer in the stacking order is the Form and Geometry layer. This layer is used to apply a topography and or edges to the surface of the texture. Changing the properties in this dialog box allow you to add effects ranging from subtle to embossed. We will be discussing these controls in our second article on advanced textures. So don't make any changes in this dialog box.

Figure 15

Now that you've learned about the different layers making up our texture it's time to render the texture to a window for a final preview. Go to the menu bar at the top of the Corel TEXTURE screen and click on Texture | Render to Window (CTRL + K). A full preview will be rendered so you can see what your texture will look like when saved to a file. If you're satisfied, click on Texture | Render to File. A Render to File dialog box will appear letting you name and save your texture in one of five formats. Congratulate yourself you just created your first texture.

There is one last thing that needs to be done before our texture is ready to be used as a background for a business card. Remember when we told you to leave the default settings of 72 dpi when you were in the "Choose dimensions for your texture" screen? When we entered the 724 pixels in the texture width parameters box and 424 pixels in the Texture Height parameters box we based those numbers on the desired image size of 2.12 inches by 3.62 inches at 200 dpi. 200 X 3.62 = 724 pixels; 200 X 2.12 = 424 pixels. Now it's simply a matter of opening your saved texture file in Corel PHOTO-PAINT and clicking on Image | Resample on the menu bar.

Figure 16

When the Resample dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 16, it will display the Width as 8.93827 inches and the height as 5.23457 inches because the Resolution section shows the horizontal and vertical resolution as 81 dpi. Put a check mark in the Maintain original size check box and change the number 81 in the Horizontal parameters box to 200. If the Maintain aspect ratio box has a check mark the vertical parameters box will automatically change to 200 as well. After making these changes, the Resample dialog box will display the correct image size and dpi as shown in Figure 17. Once you've changed the resolution you're ready to use your image.

Figure 17

Note: You can set the correct size and resolution in Corel TEXTURE by choosing File | Image Setup before you render your texture to file but you're limited to three dpi settings. We prefer to follow the method we've outlined.

If you're having trouble understanding the relationship between pixels and inches when measuring image size, follow the steps we have outlined and you won't make any mistakes. When creating additional textures always determine the pixel size for your new texture in the "Choose dimensions for your texture" screen by multiplying the resolution (dpi) you desire by the number of inches you want the final image to measure. For example, if you wanted to create a texture image measuring 5 X 7 inches at 200 dpi, you would enter 1000 in the width parameters box and 1400 in the Height parameters box. After you render your new texture to a file, open it in Corel Photo-Paint and change the resolution to 200 after checking the Maintain original size box in the Image | Resample dialog box.

Don't forget to read the follow up article.

Figure 18

Figure 19

Graphics Unleashed
Last Updated September 7, 1998.

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