The process of creating a seamless tileable background is never easy. If you're not familiar with PatterNodes it certainly wouldn't come as a surprise – the program is tremendously useful but doesn't have the same cult following as other design suites due mainly to the fact that it is a brand new product. PatterNodes is a Mac OS X tool for generating vector-quality patterns based on manual input from the designer. It offers controls based on pattern size, spacing, colors, and of course imagery located within the design.
The following post covers an overview of the software and what can be accomplished using the product. The full version normally costs $19USD but if you leave a comment on this post you have a chance to win a completely free license for life! It doesn't get much sweeter than this.
Intro to PatterNodes
In the past we've covered a review of a similar program Vectoraster which is created by Lost Minds. PatterNodes is created by the same company which has since updated all of their software.
PatterNodes was built as a dynamic method for creating tileable vector graphics. There are roundabout techniques to achieve this using Photoshop but it's all very contrived and not as controlled. PatterNodes offers direct control over the entire process for initial creation to final export.
PatterNodes is the graphic design equivalent to CAD software in product design. The app is meant to be a little more technical in order to achieve more explicit and precise results.
Much of the creation process is automated which is great for the user. You don't need to worry about the little details like maching up edges to align perfectly. The seamless tiling process is handled automatically with maneuverable controls to adjust the final output.
To skim a little more information check out the official PatterNodes website. It has all kinds of tips for beginners along with screenshots and information on system requirements.
While editing a graphic you have the ability to reshape the output file into any format. PatterNodes is built using nodes and slider inputs for adjusting graphic content. It's not an easy learning curve, but if you struggle with repeating tiled backgrounds this will prove to be a very handy tool.
Interestingly enough you can even build custom vector shapes outside of the program and move them into your PatterNodes file. So you could edit a series of icons or shapes in Adobe Illustrator, then import them into a new tileable pattern. The vectors resize naturally and face no quality loss in the process.
But PatterNodes even allows regular bitmap images to be used as tiled patterns. In order to preserve quality you won't be able to do much resizing on the graphic. But PatterNodes is very flexible and offers a series of tools for extra spacing and seamless tiling of any graphic.
All of this information can feel a little daunting – especially to users who have no idea what they're getting into.
Thankfully PatterNodes comes with internal documentation and a brief tutorial for beginners. You can also find a set of default patterns which are editable and easy to play with. This is quite possibly the best way to learn how to design custom patterns without relying on more expensive software.
Aside from the obvious seamless tiling there are lots of individual features too. One such example is the use of randomization for placement and organization of pattern elements. Designers know better than anyone that insipid repetition is the calling card of poor-quality design.
The composition of your pattern should feel alive. Spacial distance and relationships between objects can make this happen. PatterNode has features to render various objects at slightly different rotations or distances. Most images are treated as a grid so you can adjust spacing between columns, rows, or individual items.
Each of the preview screenshots does an excellent job of demonstrating how the app behaves in the moment. You have access to a number of windows and sliders to adjust individual elements in the pattern. At the bottom of the screen you'll also find a preview showcasing how the tile looks at any given moment.
Exporting a finished tile is also easy since you can save directly from PatterNode, or copy the finished tile into another program like Photoshop. Both vector and bitmap filetypes are available for export depending on your needs. And each pattern project can be saved then later re-opened in PatterNode for making edits right where you left off.
If there were a program to be deemed the paragon of pattern generation, PatterNodes would likely take home the blue ribbon.
As mentioned earlier we're giving away 10 free licenses of PatterNodes to a lucky handful of BittBox readers. All you need to do is a leave a comment on this post with a little detail about yourself and/or what type of stuff you create.
Ten lucky winners will receive a license for a full version PatterNodes. This license never expires and is good on any modern Mac computer running OS X 10.8 or later. Whether you're a web designer, mobile designer, or any other graphic designer, this program should prove exceptionally useful when generating tileable content.
So be sure to drop your comments below and best of luck to everyone!