Creating Custom Materials with Architextures

This week we are really fortunate to have a guest post from Ryan Canning of Architextures. If you haven’t heard of Architextures before, make sure you check it out!

Ryan is an architect and web developer from Glasgow. He studied at the University of Stratchclyde, Aarkitektskolen Aarhus and UC in Santiago, Chile. Since graduating Ryan has worked on various education projects at Holmes Miller Architects in Glasgow and recently completed his Part III. In the past year Ryan built Architextures, a seamless texture editor that lets designers create custom materials for drawings and 3D models.


Creating Custom Materials with Architextures

Architextures is a web app that lets users create materials for download as seamless textures and CAD hatches. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to customise a texture to suit your needs and apply it to a SketchUp model of an interior.

To get started visit On the home page you’ll see a library of pre-made textures which are available for download or can be edited in the app. You likely already have an idea for materiality in your project so the quickest way to create a custom material is to browse the library for something similar and click ‘Edit’ to load it into the web app for adjustment. If you’re still in the early stages of your design or just looking for ideas you can click the ‘Launch Web App’ button or visit the texture generator directly at which will launch it with the default Granite Herringbone texture.

In this example I need a timber floor texture for an interior. For simplicity I’m going to begin with a timber texture that I’ve found in the library (link: textures/166) and edit it to suit the design. To begin, open this texture and click ‘Edit’ to open it in the web app.

The web app contains a floating control panel with the texture filling the remainder of the screen. The blue dotted line represents the edges of the image that we’re creating; anything outside of these is simply the main texture tiling in the background. The control panel allows us to adjust the various parameters that control the look of the texture and is split into three main categories.

The first of these is the pattern options which control the pattern’s style as well as the number of rows & columns and therefore the overall size of the image. I’m going to change this texture to a Chevron pattern to suit my design. To do this, click on the pattern input and select Chevron from the menu. With the Chevron pattern we have the option to adjust the angle for the pattern, in this example I’m going to reduce this slightly to 20 degrees. The floor in this model is quite large so I’m also going to increase the number of rows to 12.

Now we’ll adjust the ‘tiles’, the units that make up the texture and represent the individual bricks, boards etc. To change the material click on it and select an alternative from the menu. The menu is split into categories which cover the main material types. New materials are added regularly but if you need something more custom, you can upload your own source image with a Pro account. For this design, I’m using white oiled timber.

Once you’ve selected a material you can alter the levels via the adjustments menu or add a tint to change the colour completely. We can also adjust the edge settings. This option is particularly useful for brick textures as it allows us to change the profile and scale of the edges to ‘handmade’ or ‘rough’ for example.

Within the tile section we can also adjust the ‘Tone Variation’. This varies the levels of individual tiles at random up to a maximum level set by the slider. More variation can give a richer appearance to the material but can make it easier to spot the repetition when the texture is tiled. Less variation will make the facade appear more uniform. I’ve increased this setting as it gives the timber an attractive, natural quality. Test this yourself by moving the slider and set it to a level you’re happy with.

The final section controls the joints, with various options for material, colour and sizing. For timber, you can use the ‘Solid Fill’ option to represent the small gaps between boards. For this material, I’ve chosen a tint colour that’s slightly darker than the tone of the board itself.

By default the horizontal and vertical joint dimensions are locked and will match each other however in some circumstances you might require these to differ which is possible by clicking the padlock icon to make the vertical dimension input active. In this image the joints are 2mm in both directions.

Now that we’ve created a suitable material for the elevation we can click the ‘Download Texture’ button to open the download menu. For standard accounts the options are limited to .jpg downloads at 1000px. This is perfectly suitable for many uses such as in the SketchUp model we’re creating today however if you’d like more options click on the ‘Get Pro Account’ button to learn more about the additional features or sign up.

To bring this texture into SketchUp use File > Import and then select the image in the file browser. Make sure the Format is set to ‘JPEG Image’ and ‘Use as Texture’ is selected. After clicking ‘Import’ click once on a face to begin painting it and again to finish. When we place the texture at first we can only approximate the scale using the cursor. In order to ensure the texture matches the real world dimensions in SketchUp we’ll need to adjust the material settings. Open the SketchUp material menu by clicking the paint bucket icon and then double click on the material we’ve just imported. This will bring up the width and height parameters. Now input the real world dimensions that are appended to the filename and shown in the Architextures control panel.

We now have a customised texture in our SketchUp model at the correct scale. The final SketchUp model with our new material imported is shown below.

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