Duplicating Full Size Wallpaper Patterns


This has turned out to be a quite vexing problem.  I thought it would very easy as I have a fair amount of experience with computer graphics.  Using my materials at hand has made this much more difficult than it really should be.  However, my methods do work although indoubtably there must be an easier method.  I will take you through step by step how I tried to make the paper including what didn't work and why.

The needed equipment includes a camera or scanner, a graphics image processing program such as GIMP or Photoshop, and a color printer.  I have a nice digital camera - Sony DSC-P1.  Digital cameras do not compare in image quality to film cameras but their ease of use far outweighs any image problems.  However, my camera is a zoom lens going from a wide angle to a telephoto picture.  Both telephoto and wide angle lens distort the picture - see image 1 - and what is really needed is a 50 mm lens.  I just try to bracket several shots with varying zooms to approximate 50 mm.  My success is not great but eventually I will get usable images.  This is a major problem with visibly linear repeating patterns that must line up exactly.  See image 2.   With more swirling non-linear patterns, it is not such a problem. 

Using my regular film camera with a standard 50 mm lens would solve the problem but the film would have to be developed and then scanned into the computer.  Literally, too much work if I can avoid it.  Scanning the wallpaper works if you have a piece of leftover paper.  But on my 8 X 14 scanner I can't fit a full width of wallpaper much less a length of paper which includes the entire repeating pattern.  I have scanned portions of wallpaper and used portions where there is not a large repeating pattern or is a non-linear pattern where I am going to manipulate it with the computer and not perform an exact match.  See image 3.

So as you can see there is not one solution for all kinds of wallpaper.  You need to tailor your plan to fit the paper.  Lighting has been my major headache.  The eye is very sensitive to differences in light - even very minor ones.  See image 1.   A tiled image just jumps out at you as being not one contiguous image if the lighting varies.  The tiled effect is pronounced.  See image 4.  My first efforts at lighting involve two 100 watt shop lights.  Very poor results.  The second used two 500 watt halogen lamps which lit up the entire room.  However, the image lighting was still uneven though considerably brighter.  I will next try this same setup reflecting the light to try and even up the illumination.

My most even lighting has been obtained with a more artificial setup.  I hang a sheet of paper on a large board in my workshop and turn on 10+ lights including lights reflected off the white ceiling.  The result is an acceptable raw image.  Unfortunately, this will only work if you have a piece of wallpaper in your hand.   Now that we have a suitable raw image, it needs to manipulated in a graphics program.  Photoshop or Gimp both will do.  I used both though I could probably do it all from either program.  Photoshop is very easy to use and I am quite familiar with it.  It is not cheap.  Gimp is totally free.  It is very powerful and should to all you need.  It is available for several platforms including Windows and Linux.  Lack of a computer program should not keep anyone from creating wallpaper.  Don't be discouraged by the seemingly complex computer manipulations.  They are easily learned and are much easy to perform than to describe.

The first miniature wallpaper I will complete can be found in image 3.  It is a simple repeating heart pattern.  Image 5 was captured with my digital camera in my workshop.  The lighting is even which is the most critical issue.  The background is an even color throughout the image.  The color is off as you can see from comparing it to image 3.  This is easily fixable.  There is some image warping which can be satisfactorily worked around although more pictures taken with the same setup but different zoom values should improve on that.  The goal is to make a tileable image to create full paper sheets of wallpaper that may be applied like full size wallpaper.  First you make the tile/pattern and then you make up a correctly sized piece of wallpaper and then tile the image over the wallpaper base.  Correctly sized means its dimensions must be an exact multiple of the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the pattern.  If not, when you abut two pieces of printed wallpaper, they won't exactly match.  The following description is for Photoshop but will work similarly with Gimp or another graphics program with similar tools.  If there are enough requests, I can write a similar Gimp based set of instructions.

First, cut out a correctly sized pattern as you don't want to work with very large entire image.  Use the selection tool - little square in image 6 - and choose a nice repeatable pattern area.  Ideally, don't make it any larger than what is needed to include the repeatable portion of the wallpaper.  You could use just a very small area of this paper as the repeating area is relatively tiny.  I made mine bigger as I was just experimenting and I have not gone back and redone it knowing what I know now.  What I need to do is convert the background to white and to darken the pattern.  Use the magic wand tool - lower right button image 6 - and select the beige background.  The tolerance ( adjustable sensivity of the tool) should be set to 10 - 25, use 15.  This will select much of the background with "marching ants".  Expand the selection by using the "similar" command from the select menu.  This should select the entire background.  Press the mask button - lower left, rightmost button - to create a mask for the selection.  A mask allows you to store a selection and reuse it over and over.  You should get an image similar to image 7.  Now go to the channels window - image 6 rightmost picture - and highlight the quickmask.  Drag it down to the new page icon on the bottom.  Now a new channel is created which may be saved with the image.  Now, push the unmask button - image 6 just left of the mask button - to convert the mask back to a selection.  Now fill - Edit menu - fill choice - the selection with white.  We have cleaned up the background.  A copy of the mask is in image 8.  White represents the selected portion and black the non-selected portion when it is converted to a selection.  You can paint in a mask with black, white, or gray to alter the mask and therefore the selection.

Now from the select menu, invert the selection.  The pattern is now selected.  You can alter this in many different ways.  I chose the following.  Copy the selection and paste into a new layer.  How - Edit menu - copy, then Layer menu - new - layer via copy.  View the image layers by pressing the layers tab - Image 6.  Click on layer 1 which selects it and turns it blue.  From the left top dropdown menu immediately above layer 1, choose "multiply".  This decides how your new layer - copy of the wallpaper pattern - will combine with the underlying image.  Multiply will combine the two images as an addition which just darkens the colors but keeps the hues the same.  Now save the image again - you have been saving your work all along, right?  Save a copy as a jpg or tif also.  This is your wallpaper tileable pattern which may be used over and over again.

My printer has a 300 dpi resolution for text.  The image should be converted to the same.  Use the imagesize command from the image dropdown menu - image 10.  Change the resolution to 300 pixels/inch and make sure the resample image button is off.  This changes the image resolution  without altering any pixels.  Note the new image size.  The blank wallpaper base will need to be a even multiple of it.  My tileable pattern is 180 X 353.  I made it that narrow to just include the repeating portion of the wallpaper pattern and to correct most of the image warp.  You may download the pattern here.   At 300 dpi it is 0.6 inches by 1.177 inches.  You can work with pixels or inches when you size your new wallpaper image.  I try to keep things simple and think of my printer paper as 8 x 10 useable inches.  So I can fit 11 patterns across ( 12 * 0.6 = 7.2 inches) and 8 down ( 1.177 * 8 = 9.46 inches).  To create the wallpaper base use the "new" command from the file dropdown menu and create a new 7.2 in X 9.46 inch image.  The tileable pattern needs to be defined as a pattern in photoshop so it can be tiled across the image.  Select the entire tileable pattern by clicking on the image and the "select all" from the select dropdown menu.  In the edit dropdown menu choose the "define pattern" command to make the wallpaper pattern.   Now, go back to our wallpaper base image and choose the edit - "fill" command and choose pattern from the dropdown menu.  You can visually choose which pattern to use and of course, choose our new wallpaper.  The image should fill up with pattern and complete our wallpaper.  A copy of vertically oriented wallpaper as we just made can be downloaded here.  A horizontally oriented piece of wall paper ( 16 * 0.6 = 9.6 inches) and ( 6* 1.177 = 7.06 inches) can be downloaded here.  Be sure to print in landscape mode.

How did I size the wallpaper to 1/12 scale?  I originally did it mathematically by measuring the wallpaper width and dividing by 12 and adjusting my images accordingly.  The result looked too small to me where you could not see the pattern.  So,  now I just eyeball it and scale up or down to get what I like.  I think it better makes a realistic miniature.

As I have only printed the patterns but not hung any as wallpaper, what paper thickness and type to use is my best guess.  I would use a fairly heavy weight paper or a matte economical photopaper and see how they looked and felt.  I would seal the inkjet wallpaper with a spray sealer of some sort to prevent running of the ink and protect the color from fading.  But those of you who have used printable wallpaper will have your own finely honed techniques.  I have two other wallpapers which have been duplicated and I will put up a tutorial on each.  This is just to get people started and other techniques and tools will be needed for more complex patterns and not linearly repeatable wallpaper.  Please email me with comments and suggestions as to what needs to be more clearly explained.  This is my first attempt at explaining a complex topic to an audience which includes computer novices.

Wallpaper #2




Wide Angle lens distortion - 1

  1. This photo is taken of my kitchen wallpaper under the range hood.  There is an obvious bow to the range hood.  This also puts a bow in any repeating linear paper patterns.  The hearts just don't line up in a straight line.  The lighting is uneven with an obvious central highlight within the image.

Camera lens warping - 2

  1. This wallpaper miniature pattern was warped by the camera lens.  Using only portions of similar repeating patterns will minimize this problem.  The best solution is to figure out how to get a 50 mm type picture out of your camera - no telephoto or wide angle distortion.

Complete Scanned image - 3

  1. This wallpaper miniature pattern was scanned on a flatbed scanner.  The color and alignment are great.  No camera lens distortion.  But only a 8 x 14 piece of paper can be scanned - assuming you have leftover wallpaper.

Poor match + uneven lighting - 4

  1. This pattern suffers from distortion from the lens as well as uneven lighting.  Uneven lighting has been my major problem.  The warping can be dealt with.

LH Working Pattern - 5

  1. This pattern has poor color but the lighting is even which is the main critical factor.  There is slight alignment problem because of lens distortion.  See how the upper hearts are not in a straight line.  This is only a partial pattern to fit this computer window.

LH Photoshop buttons - 6

  1. These buttons are explained in the text above and include masks and the  magic wand selection tool.  Similar tools are found in GIMP.

LH Mask Selection - 7

  1. A selection mask uses two colors to show what is selected.  Here white is selected or part of the mask while red is the stuff outside the selection or mask.  You better see how your image and mask go together.  This is the combined image of the original image plus the mask.

LH Mask  - 8

  1. The mask itself is a black and white image ( actually a grayscale image with partial transparency and 256 shades of gray ).  White is totally transparent and black is totally opaque.  The grays are in between.  You can actually draw or color within the mask with black/white/gray.  This alters the mask.

LH Final tileable pattern - 9

  1. This pattern is quite useable.  It has a nice white background and colors that seem to match the original.

LH ImageSize Window - 10

  1. This is needed to size the wallpaper sheet.  You can create a vertically or horizontally oriented wallpaper to suit your needs.


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