The purpose of this page is to increase awareness of resources that'll help you texture better in Second Life. Texturing is a fundamental part of a building skillset, as evidenced when you put that dang plywood texture on everything.
This list includes but isn't limited to: programs, tutorials, and packs of textures themselves. Please share what you've found useful — keep the list up-to-date and formatted neatly!
- Gimp (Free Software/Open Source) - The Gimp, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages and is available for Linux, Mac OSX, Unix and Windows. Powerful, with many tutorials on the web - great links for the main site. Best bang for the buck.
- Photoshop (professional photography editor, free trial available otherwise $100-$699) - Photoshop is a professional photo editing system that photographers use. Although it is highly expensive, it is completely worth the extra dollars you need to fork out to purchase it. With it's superb tools, such as dodge and burn which creates highlights and shadows, it's brilliant for creating textures for clothes too. Expensive, but worth it.
- Genetica (free Viewer available, 30-day demo of full texture editor, edition pricing here, Windows only) - Genetica is a node-based seamless texture generator that contains user-friendly labs. Genetica 3 (currently in beta) offers animation (Studio edition only) and vector drawing tools with preset styles. Hundreds of professional presets are included with Genetica. Textures offered with the free Genetica Viewer can be found here.
- Filter Forge (90-day trial, pricing info here, with the possibility to get it for free, Windows AND MAC) - It's the very spicy (because it's so diverse), no-holds-barred plugin which allows you to make your own Photoshop filters! This isn't some crummy, unintuitive rubbish either: it's top-drawer, with a wealth of presets, many free filters already created by the FF community to download. I'm particularly hoping to see builds inworld use some wall and tile sets made from this. Have you done such a thing? LET ME KNOW OK? :o)
- PhotoSEAM (30-day demo, US$35, Windows only) - Helps you make textures seamless like a superstar! Often, after sketching raw 768x768 chunks in ArtRage 2, I'll bring 'em into PhotoSEAM to master as 512x512s, with some buffer 'round the edges so I can cross borders smoothly. What's more, you can apply touch-up effects to come up with some radical variants of your source material. Caveats: it hasn't been updated in 6+ years and it's prone to crashing, but it's the best I've found thus far!
- ArtRage 2 (free edition available, US$19.95 for full version, Windows and Mac) - Simple, superb, sexy. It's a painting program with a snazzy user interface and minimal controls. Nope, it doesn't even have Copy OR Paste, but the brush tones are lush. Did I mention the glitter tool adds so much amazing depth? I can almost feel the grains get layered down when working with it. On 2007-02-04, I created some free ArtRage canvases; they're based on some of my textures.
- Context Free (Free Software/Open Source, Windows and Mac and *nix) - An elegant, refreshing program to mathematically generate art — see the gallery for many examples. Starting with the 2.1, you can specify tiled rendering. Even if you don't know programming languages, it's very easy to get into Context Free by changing a few numbers around, then learn more. I've made textures like "Context Free Trees" and "Context Free Flowers" using this.
- Paint.NET (Free Software/Open Source, Windows only) - Paint.NET is free image editing and photo manipulation software. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools.
- Texture Maker (Basic version €29.95, Advanced version €64.95, Professional version €99.95, free demo, Windows only) - By Reichert Software Engineering. Texture Maker is a seamless texture generator and designer. The application contains everything needed to create seamless textures for use in 3D modeling. It can create procedural and hand painted textures from scratch, remove visible seams from existing images, crop textures from photos by applying a perspective correction, render seamless tiles from structure sample patches and combine existing textures and height maps with realistic illumination. It can create animated textures and seamless animation loops. Texture Maker can be extended with plugins and automates complex operations with its scripting abilities. Nearly all functions take advantage of multiple CPUs in the system. There is also a free plugin to use the program within Photoshop. Not easy to use, unless you have a good understanding on how to work with images. The info provided on the help online is rather skimpy and don't expect to get much help from the support forum. See the matrix for a list of all the features.
- AvPainter (L$2495, free demo, Windows only) - Like SL Clothes Previewer (below), this utility lets you preview textures on a model avatar; unlike that utility, this one allows you to paint directly onto the avatar model, making it easier to fix seams, among other applications. The free demo has all the functionality of the full version except for the ability to save files.
- Texture Convertor 2 is a program that can convert textures between Poser characters for which it has a plugin. This includes TC2 SL Avatar Conversion Plugin (not included with the program by default - a separate purchase), which allows users to convert between textures used on select Poser characters for use with Second Life with select limitations - feet, arm and hands are symmetrically textured on SL Avatars, and the available texture mapping options are drastically reduced going from Poser to Second Life, so any conversions will need significant tweaking to fit properly in SL...
- imageSynth2 is a Mac and Windows application for creating seamless textures that comes with both a photoshop plug-in version and a standalone version (you get both downloads with your purchase). It's not the cheapest at $99, but on the OS X platform it's one of the better options. The ability to use it as a PS plug-in or as a standalone app is really nice.
Here's some stuff you may never of heard of; I hope it'll make your Second Life texturing easier!
- Texture calculator (free, Windows only, 4.9 MB download) - By Adrian Eisenberg. If you've ever wanted to map multiple textures onto a single one for greater efficiency, also known as texture zones, give this a spin. It'll save you the headache of working out the offsets. You can see an actual example by Detect Surface and learn more.
- SL Clothes Previewer (free, Windows and Mac) - By Johan Durant. Want to see what your newly created clothes will look like before you upload them to Second Life? This application is a bit rough around the edges but it works great, letting you add textures for all the standard clothing layers, and zoom and rotate to see the results.
- Backhoe terrain editor (free, Mac only, 0.6 MB download) - By Zarf Vantongerloo. A simple and elegant terraforming tool for whole regions. It may save you the pain of wrestling with RAW files in Photoshop. For more terrain editors, see this forum thread.
- Texture Discovery (free, Windows only, 0.48 MB download) - By Reichert Software Engineering. A simple utility to browse texture files on your disk. Display and tiles a texture image on your screen. It has a texture mapping preview to view a texture mapped on ground and on a sphere. Very simple commands but with a dated interface that makes browsing textures in deeply nested folders a bit inconvenient.
- GIF to SL Animated Texture Creator (free, web-based) - By Peregrine Salon. This utility allows you to convert an animated GIF file into a SL-compliant texture, and even outputs the LSL code you'll need to animate it on an object face. There are some known issues: the number of frames will affect how the SL animated texture is laid out in a grid, and there are issues carrying transparency. However, it works with most animated GIF files.
- GIF 2 SL Animated Texture Program (free, Windows only, 0.40 MB download) - By Gonta Maltz. Use the program to convert most animated GIF files into a sequential grid Jpeg image. Handles transparent GIF images and converts them into PNG files. Automatically outputs the number of frames horizontally, vertically and the frames per second on the name of the final image for ease of use with a supplied free script on the site. Upload the image, toss the texture INTO a prim, add the script and it works. The program retains color information and image quality (depending on resolution) of the converted image. You will need the .NET Framework 2.0 with SP1 to run the executable, if it does not initially run.
- Picasa (free, Windows and Linux, 5.2 MB download) - By Google. Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps you keep your textures organized in folders. Locate and organise all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks, share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web.
- ColorImpact ($49.95 for a limited time, $59.95 regular, free demo, Windows only, 8.90 MB download) - By Tiger Color. Need a color scheme for your textures? ColorImpact can help you select matching colors and create color harmonies. Select a color that pleases you and the visual color wheel instantly displays a selection of perfectly matching colors. Play with different color harmonies, add shades and tints and visually fine tune your color scheme to perfection. Large selection of test patterns, test your color schemes on real designs. Export your color schemes to most popular paint programs. Built-in color theory tutorial. Many features help you experiment with color harmonies. Excellent interface. Compatible with Windows Vista. Web site with support, tutorials, forums.
- Color Schemer Studio ($49.99, free demo, Windows and Mac) - Need a color scheme for your textures? Color Schemer Studio is a professional color matching application for anyone from hobbyists to advanced professionals. Work with a dynamic visual color wheel, instantly explore harmony relationships and even let Color Schemer Studio intelligently suggest color schemes for you!. Use Color Schemer Studio to explore color using a dynamic visual color wheel, actually see harmony relationships, mix colors, create gradient blends, and even analyze contrast and readability. Use the Export Wizard to export your color schemes to a number of popular applications and formats. Use the PhotoSchemer tool to build unique color schemes based on any picture, image or photograph. Windows version compatible with Vista. Web site with support, tutorials, scheme gallery, forums.
- Transparent Screen Ruler ($19.95, Windows only) - By Tiger Color. With the Transparent Screen Ruler you can measure anything on your monitor — web pages, drawings, images, user interfaces etc. The program features a visual and intuitive user interface, and the screen magnifier window makes it easy to get exact measurements. Unit of measure: pixels, inches, centimeters, picas, custom. Close to tray. Easy to use.
- ColorPix (free, Windows only) - ColorPix is a neat little application that will let you grab the color values and screen coordinates at any pixel on your screen. ColorPix automatically translates any screen color into RGB, HEX, HSB and CMYK color values, and comes with a zoom-able magnifier built in.
- Color Schemer Galleria (free, Mac only) - Put a gallery of over 1,000 color schemes on your Dashboard with the free Galleria Dashboard widget. Browse color schemes, find inspiration, and copy your favorite hex color values without ever leaving your Dashboard.
- Color Hunter - Need to research for a color palette for your next building project? Color Hunter is a place to find and make color palettes created from images. To find color palettes on Color Hunter, enter a search term in the box at the top of the page. You can search by tag or hex color code or image URL. If you have an image, you can upload it and get a color palette based on the colors in the image. This is a free web-based tool.
- Stitch Witch - By Kamilche & Windwalker . This tool provides common traditional and digital fabric texturing methods including shadowing of cloth for quilting/seaming, curve/outlining for stitching around, nondestructive fabric resizing. Not SL specific, but can be used to get clothing up to a pre-primming seams-unmatched state (i.e. mostly there), depending on main fabric textures used and importance of matching upper/lower avatar clothing textures.
- Texture Mapper (249 L$) - Tool allows you to load an image and select portions of it to identify repeats per face and offsets to put on your prims to show the same effect in-world. Has a preview pane, texture flipping, and mapping. Unregistered version works for 5 minutes.
- Robin (Sojourner) Wood's Texture Tutorial (inworld) - A step by step presentation on textures within Second Life, for both beginner and expert, by Robin Sojourner. Also features a reading room with advanced information presented in book form. A second set of tutorials are also available on her personal website.
- Idea City's Design Center (inworld) - Follow this SLURL to TP into an intermediate-level set of building and texture tutorials by Forseti Svarog. A fine place to go after you've mastered Lumiere Noir's The Ivory Tower of Primitives lessons.
- "Texturing for Dummies" and some others (PDF) - Not Second Life-specific, but it's a beautifully-published guide with key principles.
- Photoshop video tutorial series (most in WMV format) - Look under the left sidebar under the "PHOTOSHOP VIDEOS" and "SECOND LIFE VIDEOS" header. By Twiddler "Frisky Pirate" Thereian.
- Texture Mapping Tutorial- Creating texture maps for objects/products/builds in SL. Content-rich designs. Piccies to come soon as well as advanced Photoshop techniques. By Detect Surface aka "The Prim Hog".
- Various Tutorials - Many building tutorials which touch on textural aspects of content creation, such as how to make clothes. By Natalia Zelmanov.
- "Tutorial: the texture of our world" - This is a general guide from '05, but what you learn here will help you in related areas — they're all interconnected. A tidy, very-easy-to-understand piece o' work explaining the benefits of fine texture control in SL.
- Creating transparent textures with PNGs in Photoshop - If you've found it tricky and time-consuming to use 32-bit TGAs to make your transparencies, check this out for a more streamlined way to get results.
- Photoshop Hairtexture Tutorial - Hairtexture Tutorial: Use the tools in Photoshop (or a graphicprogram with similar options) to create textures for your prim-hair. Change the colors and make dipped tips. By Olila Oh.
- SL Texture Tutorials - Step by Step Video Course to Mastering Photoshop and creating textures for SL. There is 50 videos so you can pick and choose what you want to learn. By Lady Hathaway
- Making transparent textures - Learn how to remove the background from an selected image and bring it into Second Life. By Torley Linden, who has more video tutorials.
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- Tutorials 2 Go (inworld) - Follow this SLURL to TP into Tutorials 2 Go, there is many self paced tutorials including Paint.net which is a really easy to use paint program, How to Make Clothes, sculpts and more by Lady Hathaway.
Texture books and DVDs
Books and DVDs on the art of texturing:
- Book learnin' - Where Cory Edo announces the texture-related books she's going to read and review.
- "Advanced Photoshop Texturing" - A DVD with more than 9 hours of Photoshop Texturing training designed to show how to make textures and get the most out of Photoshop CS. The tutorials are based on the Windows version of Photoshop. Particurarly well suited to people who are new to Photoshop or have limited experience with it. Priced for a limited time at US$39.95 at Kurv Studios' web site or at US$44.95 at Amazon.com (prices may vary).
Texture packs and libraries
- Torley Textures (also available for FREE inworld) - Fully-permissive in a variety of surreal, sketchy, painterly, organic, cyberiffic, etc. styles.
- BoxTiny.com - More than 16000 textures full perm, easy to search and free to download. Look for the Register page to learn how to register. The website is comunity based and souported. The textures are ready uploaded into SL and you recive them inworld.
- Harbinger's Haven - Builders sandbox (inworld) - "No push, no scripts. All builders welcome. No weapons, vehicles, selling or advertising. Cleared daily.Free Textures" A pleasant place to build. You'll land right in front of free texture kiosks, sorted into a variety of categories.
- Lemog3d texture collection - One of my favoritest free texture resources on a well-organized French site. High-quality, seamlessly-tiling, assorted goods. These are at 512x512 resolution, which is just peachy for uploading straight into SL.
- Genetica Texture Packs – Spiral Graphics offers high-quality royalty-free texture collections with over 100 seamless textures per pack. They are available on their website at 512x512, but can be rendered at higher resolutions with the free Genetica Viewer.
- CGTalk's Online Texture Libraries links - Also includes links to tutorials. Note that some of the links are broken — it's still worth a look. Note that most of them aren't seamlessly tiling, so if that's your intention, you'll need to do extra editing.
- NOCTUA Graphics textures - 459 free textures in the usual categories. Most are 512x512 and seamlessly tileable.
- Image*After textures - Image*After is a large online free photo collection. You can download and use any image or texture from the site and use it in your own work, either personal or commercial. Large image collection, well organized. Forums.
- Mayang Free Textures - Very popular site with over 3400 good quality textures to date. You can download a limited number of images per day, or you can order the entire collection on DVD.
- Blender for Architecture - A wiki site dedicated to Blender users involved with architectural work. It includes a page with several free images of good quality. Of particular interest is the section on wood with many varieties from all over the world. Please note that there are two wood sections on the page, the one with the world varieties is at the bottom of the page.
- shareCG - A web site dedicated to computer games with a vast library of free textures, some of very good quality.
- Margraf - This Italian marble company offers a library of 180 high resolution, free marble textures to download. Excellent quality. Requires registration to the site with a valid email address. Web site in Italian, English and French.
- Texturebits - Royalty free textures. For personal or commercial use.
- Sub Dimension Studios - Textures - Large assortment of quality seamless textures ( 512 and 1024) inworld and out.
These don't fit under a single category.
- Avatar Databank - A complete library of all of the texture templates for SL avatars, both male and female. All expressions, body sizes, hair shapes, eyelashes, etc...
- Second Life Design & Textures forum - Where I started out. Discuss texturing tips & tricks with fellow Residents and look at the top for the helpful tutorials stickied in orange.
- Developers Resource Matrix - It's kinda hard to find on our website, but it's got lots of helpful links I refer to regularly. If you're a content creator or looking to Do-It-Yourself, bookmark it and keep it close. Some additional resources are listed which I'm not going to overlap here.
- Deviantart.com Resources - Ready-to-use textures, as well as application-specific brushes, patterns, and other tools for making textures. Click on the "Categories" button to get a list of the different sections. Be sure you read about crediting requirements before using a resource! (Most artists just want to know what you did with their work.)
- Photoshop CS2 Keyboard shortcuts - A "cheat sheet" with all the keyboard shortcuts for the Windows version of Photoshop CS2. PDF file, Adobe Reader is required.