Fun With Tiles #1


This was done using Gimp 2.2.

We all have desktops, and some of us have websites, and in both cases, we might want to have "tiled" backgrounds, where an image is repeated all over the background in a pleasing way. This here is part 1 of "stuff you can do to make tiles".

I will divide tiles into a few kinds:

obviously repeating tiles
Tiles which are obviously repeating, which rejoice in their repeatingness.
seamless tiles
Tiles which, while repeating, you can't really tell where one repeated image starts and the next one ends; you can't tell where the "seam" is.
There are two kinds of seamless tiles: symmetrical and a-symmetrical.

General Useful Stuff With Tiles

To see how your tile looks repeated, there are a few ways of going about it:

Outside gimp:
Save the tile and use your favourite program to tile it all over your desktop. This of course will depend on whether you have an easy way of setting your desktop from a particular file (rather than from a fixed menu of images, as many window managers seem to do). But if you do have an easy way of doing this, this is certainly the best way of seeing what the image looks like as a desktop background!
Inside gimp:
  • Filters -> Map -> Tile
    Set the size to be twice the size of the tile, and tick "Create New Image". This will give you a new image with four copies of the tile, which is the minimum number to see how it looks.
  • Filters -> Map -> Small Tiles
    This replaces the image with smaller tiled versions of itself. This is quicker and rougher, but you need to remember to undo it, since it acts on the current image!

Obviously Repeating Tiles

This kind of tile is the easiest to make, since you don't have to try to make it seamless. But there are things you can still do to make it obviously a tile (rather than a random square image).

For this tile stuff, we're starting with the following base image, which was cut out of a photo I took:

Simple border

Put a simple border around the tile.

  1. (optionally) Select a colour from the image to use as your border colour.
    (optionally) Play with the colour to make it darker or lighter or some contrasting shade.
  2. Create a new transparent layer.
  3. Select all.
  4. Shrink selection (make sure "shrink from image border" is set).
  5. (optionally) Feather selection (to get a blended fuzzy border rather than a sharp one)
  6. Invert selection.
  7. Fill the selection; either with a colour, or a pattern, or a gradient.
  8. Flatten and save the image.

Result: ptile1_border1 (I also applied "warp sharp" to make the leaves sharper.)

Bump Up

This is where we make the image bump up as if it were a ceramic tile.

  1. Create a new white layer.
  2. Select all.
  3. Shrink selection (make sure "shrink from image border" is set).
  4. Fill selection with black. Select None.
  5. Gaussian Blur.
  6. Apply the Carving effect.

Result: ptile1_border2

Script-Fu Borders

There are a few Script-Fu Gimp plugins that can be used to make interesting borders. Look under Script-Fu -> Decor for some. Look at the Gimp plug-in registry to find more plugins to install.

In the following, I applied "Fuzzy Border" (which gives a fuzzy border) and then "Add Border" (which adds a beveled border).

Result: ptile1_border3

And now on to part 2!