DIYday Lesson 10: GIMP 103: Patterns

PatternsI reiterate here, if you have not read this post on Stocks and Resources, please read before continuing. This lesson is about patterns. I use them sometimes, but not very often. Patterns are basically tileable brushes you dump onto a layer with Bucket Fill rather than click by click. You can also use them in certain filters/scripts to add texture to your image. More on that later, as I have just recently discovered this.

To install a pattern is not that different from installing a brush. Patterns will be files you move to a specific folder and they will automatically populate in GIMP when you start it or refresh the screen. In Windows 7, this will be in the following directory: (C:)–>Users–>YourUserName–>gimpX.X–>patterns (substitute X.X with the latest version you have installed).

TextureMate Website and its offerings
TextureMate Website and its offerings

Once a pattern is installed, what you do with it is up to you. Each pattern or pattern set will be sized differently. This website offers free brushes and patterns for you to use. There are tileable squares but also high definition images which are basically details of different textures. It is a versatile website for a lot of things and it’s definitely worth checking out.

So what do you do with patterns? One cool thing to do with them is to create a background for a website. Because it’s basically impossible to predict the size of screen someone will be viewing your website on, you can do one of the following:

  1. Use a flat color background
  2. Use a small image positioned in a specific place and hope it shows up correctly
  3. Use a huge image and hope it will scale as big as necessary to cover the whole screen
  4. Use a tiled pattern background
This is a tileable image. Put a bunch of them in rows and columns and you have a lovely textured background.
Tileable image. Put a bunch of them in rows and columns and you have a lovely textured background.

If you’re using WordPress, numbers 1 and 4 are your best bet. Why? because some themes make the background of your posts transparent, which makes the default background for your website show through. In that case, it’s better to use a flat color background because a pattern will make your text difficult to read. There are also themes which give your posts a background of their own (either solid or semi-transparent). You can see that right here. If you’re on a full screen monitor, scroll down to the edge of my widgets on the right. Where they end, the background begins. It’s black, but my posts are on a white-ish background on their own so they are readable. In this case you are safe to use a patterned background.

In order to make a tiled background in WordPress, all you need is one square tile of your chosen pattern. Look closely at the specifications of the patterns you download and install. They should give you the size of the tile. That will be the size of your canvas. You use Bucket Fill on the canvas with your pattern (which should produce exactly one tile) and export it as .JPG or .PNG. In your WordPress Dashboard, upload your image on the background screen and set it to tile vertically and horizontally. The image will be small enough to load quickly, but it will fill the entire screen no matter what size it is. Yey for simple solutions!

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