David Gell's Blog

...a Painter brush maker and explorer who likes to share

Sharing Custom Paper Textures

The problem with most Painter resources (paper textures libraries etc.) is that although they are traditionally forward compatible, they are seldom backward compatible with earlier Painter versions. Prior to Painter X, many of the resources were also not cross-platform compatible without some form of modification.

In this article I will demonstrate a method I have developed to extract paper textures from any Papers library in Painter 7 upwards. The texture tiles are then saved as individual images which can subsequently be shared and opened by the recipient in any version of Painter which allows paper capture, thus negating the need for Mac platform conversion. If you are still a little confused by the concept, here is a link to a texture by Roberto Campus which GoldCoin then captures as a Painter paper texture in this video.

Assuming you don't have the original texture as a stand alone image, the initial step is to create one from an existing Papers library texture. Firstly we will need the Papers library palette open on our desktop, which in Painter IX is achieved by selecting Window menu> Library Palettes> Show Papers.

Before extracting the texture tile, unless one wishes to create a different texture appearance at default settings when recaptured, it is important to ensure that both the Paper Scale and Paper Contrast settings are at 100 percent, with Paper Brightness set to 50 percent.

Once these values are set, we need to obtain the original texture selection size. By good fortune, this information is provided in the Papers palette by the number of Rows (pixel height) and number of Columns (pixel width). Armed with this valuable information, we now know that the original capture size for this tile was 100 x 100 pixels.


The next step is to create a new Painter document 100 pixels wide by 100 high at 72 ppi.

What we are going to do now is to select a specific custom variant (Paper Extractor) and paint the entire canvas in our new document. This specialized variant has the main color saved as white (RGB 255,255,255), and the additional color as black (RGB 0,0,0) by default, and to ensure extraction works correctly, these values must remain associated. This variant can be downloaded via a link at the end of this article, and can be used in any version of Painter from 7 upwards.

You can see from the screen shot below, that I have placed the above variant in the default Chalk brushes category, but this can be located in any brush category. The finished painted texture tile can also be seen to the right, and you will note that the imagery in the Papers palette preview window shows this tile offset. This is because the imagery in the preview window can be dragged with the cursor, and will only show a portion or tiled portion, depending on the original captured texture size and any subsequent scaling.

It is now time to save our texture image in a format which can be opened in any version of Painter, and on both Mac and PC platforms. My preference would be to save as a Photoshop  psd file for DVD or CD distribution and a maximum quality jpg image for web distribution. Mac users will need to assure the appropriate Windows extension is added to the file name.



And here it is, the final texture image first saved as a psd in Painter, then as a maximum quality jpg file in Photoshop using a minus 3 adjustment to paper Brightness prior to selecting the Save for Web option.

Please feel free to download the image to the left and capture it as a paper texture in your Painter version.


Instructions for Paper Capture

1. With the opened image document to the front in the application, choose Select menu> All.

2. From the open Papers palette menu, choose Capture Paper, and in the resulting Save Paper dialogue, move the Crossfade slider all the way to the left (0.00) before naming the paper and clicking OK. The new texture should now be visible in the Paper Preview Window of the Papers palette.

3. Create a new custom papers library via the Paper Movers dialogue (Papers palette menu> Paper Mover), and drag the newly created texture icons from the left hand pane of the Paper Mover dialogue to the new library in the right hand pane before clicking Quit in the dialogue.

Restoring Paper Default Settings

Prior to Painter IX, irrespective of any adjustments made to the default settings in the Papers palette, these new settings would be lost whenever the application was closed or a new texture selected. In Painter IX through IX, any changes made to individual paper scale, contrast and brightness settings are automatically saved. However, unlike the brush variants, there is no option to automatically restore the default paper settings. I therefore recorded a macro script which will perform this task with a single click. This script is also available for download at the end of this article, along with a bonus script for automatically desaturating imagery (useful for viewing potential textures in 'grayscale' prior to initial capture).

The custom palette screen shot to the far left shows icons for the Desaturate and Reset Paper Default scripts. In this case, the scripts may be invoked by either clicking on their respective icon in the custom palette, or by selecting the script from the custom Texture Scripts library and clicking the Play button at the bottom of the Scripts palette.

Due to a bug in Painter, the image in the Preview window of the Papers palette does not automatically update when the Reset Paper Default script is run. However, subsequent dragging of the preview image forces a refresh.

If the scripts are to be run via. a custom palette, it is important to first locate the respective script library at the top level of the Painter IX / IX.5 users folder, or in the case of Painter X, at the top level of the User Workspace folder under which Workspace the respective custom palette will be created and used. Due to another Painter bug, immediately after creating the custom palette, I strongly recommend quitting and restarting Painter prior to running a script from a custom palette for the first time. I have experienced several application crashes after forgetting to do this. When scripts are to be run (played) directly from the Scripts palette, the script library location can be of your choosing.

Resource Downloads

The download folders contain the following;

  • a Painter script library (Texture Scripts or Texture Scripts.ssd for the PC version) . These should load successfully in Painter 7 and above via the Load Library option from the Scripts Selector sub menu in the Scripts palette. The Script library contains 2 custom scripts (Desaturate and Reset Paper Default).
  • a single variant xml file, Paper Extractor (again for Painter 7 and above). The variant file must be moved or copied from the containing folder and placed in an existing Brush Category folder (i.e one already containing xml brush variant files) in a library of your choice.

There are no restrictions on use, other than the resources are not to be offered for sale or redistributed without my prior consent.

Download (12 KB) for the PC platform

Download Texture_Stuff_mac.dmg.gz (8 KB) for the Mac platform




Jan W said:

Being totally non-professional in using Painter, I did some rif-files long ago and would like to change the paper texture in retrograde. Is there a way to do it? Don´t seem to find that piece of information.  Understand your guidance in your post here you wrote three years ago. But believe that it does not apply in my case, with a hundred files originally done with Metacreation´s Painter. I am now trying to get used to Painter 11 on a MAC, having used Painter 6 for PC some years ago.

I appreciate your blog immensely for its lucidness and compassion towards non-professionals. Best, Jan W

March 20, 2010 6:55 AM

About David Gell

I have been using Painter since version 6 (on the Mac platform)
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