Creating seamless background textures without a program like Corel Draw may seem complicated until you understand the basics of how it is done. This tutorial makes the whole process easier with the help of some examples and a few useful tips.
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Let Corel Draw Do the Work
Making a background for your desktop publishing projects in Corel Draw 9 can be one of the simplest things you have ever done. For most desktop publishing projects, you draw a box the size of the background you want to make, pick your pattern and fill it. Regardless of how the box is resized, the pattern will always adjust to fill it seamlessly.
However, if you want to make a custom pattern or export a background out of Corel Draw for use as a screensaver, wallpaper or website background, the first step is making a tile that, when repeated, gives a seamless background.
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Making Simple Tiles
Many Corel Draw patterns make seamless tiles without any manipulation at all. To make the sample tiles below, draw a box 2 inches square using the fifth tool (the box) on the left hand toolbox.
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Select the box with the pointer tool (the arrow at the top of the toolbox on the left hand side). When selected, the box will display resizing squares around the drawing. Now select the last tool on the menu, the paint bucket. After the fly out menu appears, select the third box, the pink and blue checkerboard pattern.
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As you can see from the screen shot, the pattern fill menu allows you to choose between two color, full color or bitmap.
A two-color pattern gives you just that -- the choice of two spot colors in a high contrast pattern: checkerboard, spots, stripes, stars and other common shapes. Both the two color and the full color patterns in this menu consists of vector graphics made of lines and fills that stay smooth when they are resized. The third choice is bitmaps, the format used for photographs and scans, consisting of dots of color which lose their resolution the bigger they are sized
For the fills in my example, I chose four-color patterns. I looked for patterns that had square components or small elements that would not show a noticeable line when joined together. I also set my pattern size the same width and height of my box. When they are not the same size, this is what you get (see image below).
In the sample of the duplicated stained glass tiles, it is obvious the tile is not seamless; you can tell where one tile ends and the other begins. Sometimes, making tiles seamless is a lot like adjusting your pattern up, down or over while wallpapering a room. In this case, however, we will not be adjusting the second tile, but adjusting the first.
If you break this image down to its smallest component, you will see a tile that looks like the one on the left, the same image Corel Draw displays as the choice for this pattern in the fill menu. (See screen shot above). Studying the way Corel Draw sets up these samples or repeating tiles can give you ideas about how to draw or sample your own creations. Just keep in mind how that tile is going to repeat and break the elements of the pattern down to its smallest component. For example, look at the tile Corel displays as a choice for spots:
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Notice how the tile is not only one spot in the middle of the tile but also ¼ of the spot on all four corners. This ensures that when the tile repeats, the sides, top and bottom will make up a complete spot or image.
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Making a Custom Pattern
To show you how to do this, I will make a custom pattern using a bitmap loaded from my computer. In the first example, I loaded a one-bit bitmap of a haunted house and let Corel Draw repeat the pattern for me.
The second example shows what happens when the pattern is varied by offsetting columns by 50%. The third example shows what happens when the image is skewed and rotated by 10% and the front color is changed to orange and the back color to black.
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The original tile used the smallest component, the haunted house, to make the pattern -- which is normally what you should do. However, in order to show how to adjust more complicated patterns, I am deliberately making a tile that will not repeat well in order to change the origin of the pattern and make the pattern into a repeatable tile.
First I made a 4 x 4 tile while keeping the size of the pattern at 2" square and the columns offset at 50%. This gave me the first pattern on the left:
Changing the origin of the x (horizontal placement of the image) to a negative five, I was able to move one haunted house to the middle of the tile while moving the rest of the haunted houses to the edge so that when this tile is duplicated, it will fit together nicely.
While a full explanation of all of the ways to create your own custom repeating tile is not possible in this tutorial alone, for future reference, know the higher the positive number selected for the horizontal "x" factor, the more your center image will go to the right. The same is true for the vertical "y" factor -- positive numbers make it go up and negative numbers make the image go down. After you have mastered the basic simple tiles, then you will be ready to tackle more complicated patterns by adjusting the origin, the size of the pattern, the rotation, the skew or the offset percentages to make your own customized seamless backgrounds!
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Making seamless tiles using the preset two-color and four-color pattern fills in Corel Draw is easy since most of the time Corel does the work for you. It is also easy to make your own custom tiles using bitmap images. Between using preset patterns and making your own custom fills, you will have so many choices you will need more time to play with them all.