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Create organic-like textures with the Fibers filter

Added on Thursday 5th of April 2012 03:44 am EST

by T.N. Tumbusch
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Even if you’ve been using Photoshop for years, chances are you haven’t explored all it has to offer. Take for instance the Fibers filter with which you can create interesting patterns and textures, mimicking cloth and wood. So kick your skills up a notch and try this one out!


To get you up to seed on using the Fibers filter, we’ll:

  1. Discuss how the filter interacts with the foreground and background colors and how to adjust the look of the fibers.
  2. Show you a simple trick for creating fiber textures with more than two colors.
  3. Get you started using fibers as a base for more complicated textures, such as wood grain and cloth.


Used by itself or in conjunction with other tools, the Fibers filter enables you to create some pretty amazing and realistic textures to incorporate into your designs. Best of all, it’s easy to use. With just a few minutes of practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to add it to your design Tools panel.


Introducing the Fibers filter
Photoshop artists have used the Clouds filter as a multi-purpose texture-generating tool for many years. They frequently modify the base pattern it generates to create other textures, such as smoke, marble, and even fur. The Fibers filter works a lot like the Clouds filter, using the current foreground and background colors as the basis for the pattern it creates. In our first examples, shown in Figure B and Figure C, we’ve used a high-contrast combination to highlight the filter’s effects.


Note: There’s good news for Photoshop users. Unlike many of Photoshop’s rendering tools, the Fibers filter works in CMYK mode.


Weaving your first fibers
To begin, create a new document, and make sure it’s filled with a background color. (The Fibers filter won’t affect transparent areas of a layer.) Ensure that there’s nothing in the active layer that you want to keep, because the results of the Fibers filter will replace the contents of the active layer or selection. Choose your foreground and background colors, and then select Filter > Render > Fibers. The Fibers dialog box appears.


The preview window shows what the pattern will look like when you apply the filter. Unlike the Clouds filter, which produces a different random result each time you apply it, the Fibers filter applies the same pattern on subsequent uses until you modify it in this dialog box. As a result, you can apply the Fibers filter, modify your color selection, and apply it again to get the same pattern in a new color scheme.


Controlling the pattern
Two sliders, Variance and Strength, control the look of the fiber pattern. You can also enter specific values for each, ranging from 1 to 64. The Variance slider controls the blend between the foreground and background colors. The higher the setting, the more the colors shift. With an increased Variance setting, streaks of color in the pattern tend to be shorter. Figure B shows the results of two different Variance settings.


You control the appearance of each fiber with the Strength slider. A low setting gives fibers a wider, softer look, while a high setting makes them thin and stringy. Figure C shows a comparison of each.