photoshop/ illustrator textures

I am wondering if you all could share some techniques, archives or methods used to apply realistic fabric/ material/ textures to a design

Scan originals or snatch off of web. Use Illustrators envelope distort tool if necessary to warp it to give it depth or form. Bring back into photoshop and shade as normal using techiques you already have for shading colored areas. it’s not that hard, just get good quality samples and it’ll bring your rendo to a new level.

Thanks Skinny. What fromat do we save those scanned images in? Do we turn it into a swatch? Never used the distort tool in Illustrator before


Scan in any material and save it as a standard Jpeg format… When using as a swatch you can either use - edit - use as motif ( sorry us the french version) then select an area and fill with motif select your desired motif and fill. However this will give you a flat fill with no distortion. So you can Open a new doc place your swatch into the doc and use filter - distort- spherisation (again this is the french no idea if the english is the same) this will give you the option to choose between a global sphere distort, horizontal or Vertical distort…
Hope this helps. Ive spent two years scanning textures and have created a small personal library, meshes, leathers, synthetics etc…
Hope this helps

Thanks for the tip Tom. I love all your renderings and always wondered how you did those spherisation. Unfortunately, my cs2 don’t have the functions that you’re talking about. I’ll have a look and see if i can download it somewhere.

Thanks again


Photoshop 7 had a “sperize” tool or something like that, and I think the imageready plugin had something similar but I didn’t like it, not exact enough. Illustrator cs1 has the envelope distort which is really nice, and you can bounce back and forth between the 2 pretty seamlessly, if you have both open you can actually drag and drop between screens. In illustrator, you have to make an empty box over top of what you’re distorting. After you go to envelope distort, your box will have control handles and the way they control the vector line, they’ll control the image distortion. You can add and subtract points to give you more or less control over specific areas, etc…really nice, I highly recommend it, especially if you have to put a graphic on a curved surface or have a pattern turn the corner.

I never tried that, but will give it a shot, sounds pretty sweet, thanks Skinny. This is what its about… designers… helping each other out… cats and dogs… living together…

Thanks boys!!! really appreciate the tips

Skinny, have u some examples of rendering with the envelope distort ?

Thx :wink:

Here is the process with text:

Here is the process with an IL made texture, you could also do it with a scanned texture:

You should be able to find creative things to do with this little tool, just experiment a little.
PS, if you want to add extra control points to the envelope distort, you have to actually go to the pen-+ tool, you can’t do it with the normal “ctrl held down on the normal pen tool” key command to add the point.


that’s new to me, can’t wait to be back in the office and have fun.

thanks skinny!

just scanned like a whole swatch book.

can’t wait to start playing around with it



ooh… that is nice… i had always found distortion tools to be sorta cheesy but i think it’s just cuz i never really saw them applied well. this is very cool.

Thanks for the input guys, these techniques are crazy effective. What would one do to start a material swatch library? I know scanning and collecting, but is there a more efficient way, downloading, ordering a swatch book etc.?

I’m searching for some vectorized textures for Illustrator (leather, foam, mesh, etc…), are library like that existing ? or somebody have few examples ?

Thx :wink:

In Illustrator cs2, you can bring in a scan and there is a vectorize tool in there. Not sure exactly what it’s called, I don’t have it, only seen someone else use it. But it’ll take a photograph and give you a vectorized version of it. I know it will do lines, don’t know for sure if it does a full color representation but I believe so.

It’s called Live trace. Pretty good tool but you have to play around with it to get the effect you’re after. It’s exactly like Streamline

Would this be a good size of a swatch to keep in a library?

here is a tutorial on how to make textures in photoshop, now you can make your own, take pictures and play with this process. play with the layer options to make them blend etc.