Pattern Design for the Rest of Us

Getting Around: SymmetryMill Workspace

ENHANCED in SymmetryMill 2
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At start-up, SymmetryMill loads the built-in demo image and immediately creates a pattern. The source image resides in the Source Image window and the pattern fills the Pattern window. Windows have handles that let you move and resize them.
You can change the symmetry of the pattern and the blending between units of repeat in the Parameters panel and adjust the appearance of your source image by applying filters in the Filters panel. The Snapshots panel at the bottom of the SymmetryMill application window displays the current set of snapshots.
SymmetryMill workspace
To choose a different source image, do one of the following:
  • click the Load Image button in the SymmetryMill toolbar
  • drag the image to the Source Image window or the Pattern window
Once an image is loaded, SymmetryMill automatically creates the control path that selects the motif of your pattern. A pattern is formed by repeating the motif according to the symmetry laws. The shape of the control path depends on symmetry. You can move the control path around, change its size, and (for some symmetries) adjust its shape. The shape, width, and height of the control path ultimately determine the repeat size of the pattern.

To move control path anchors or sides in predictable increments, click an anchor or a side and use the keyboard arrow keys to move the anchor (side). Hold down the Shift key to move in bigger increments.
The Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons in the Source Image and Pattern windows let you change the magnification in the respective windows. The buttons affect only the screen display; they do not change the actual size of your pattern, which is determined by the absolute size of your control path.
SymmetryMill keeps track of your edits and lets you undo and redo them when needed. Click the Undo button to undo an edit or the Redo button to re-apply it. You can similarly undo and redo several of most recent operations. The undo list is cleared when you quit SymmetryMill. Use snapshots to store your patterns on a more permanent basis.
Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-z (Windows) or Command-z (Mac OS) to undo an operation. To redo it, press Ctrl-Shift-z or Command-Shift-z, respectively.
The keyboard shortcuts may not be available after certain operations, for example, if you switch to another application and return to SymmetryMill. Move your mouse pointer over the control path area to re-activate keyboard shortcuts.
A snapshot remembers the exact operations needed to create the pattern from a given source image and lets you reproduce the pattern with a click. Snapshots are stored in your user account in sets that become immediately available to you once you load the image. The current active snapshot set is displayed in the Snapshots panel. An empty set is created automatically when there are no other snapshots. To start a new snapshot set or load a previously created set, click the Manage Snapshots button in the SymmetryMill toolbar. This opens the Manage Snapshots dialog that lists both your private snapshots as well snapshots shared by other users if such are available for your image.
The Manage Snapshots dialog lets you browse snapshot sets and preview their content. On exit, the dialog loads the private or public set that you have chosen.
To export a pattern from SymmetryMill, click the Export Pattern button in the SymmetryMill toolbar. You can export your work in the PNG or JPG format and choose to save it on your local computer as a tile or pattern. See Saving (Exporting) Patterns for details.
Export your pattern as a Tile to create a seamless background for a web page or to print your pattern on fabric.
Alternatively, choose Edit > Copy Tile (Copy Pattern, or Copy Repeated Unit) to place the image on the clipboard. You can then paste it into any application that supports images.
Click the Share button in the SymmetryMill toolbar to share your current pattern set with the community on Pattern Central or just create a permalink (a permanent link) to that set and send it to your friends or colleagues. See Sharing: What and How for more about sharing.
Use the Load Shared Patterns button in the SymmetryMill toolbar to load a shared snapshot set by its web address. Loading a shared set also loads the corresponding source image and makes all other snapshot sets for that image, both public and private, available in the Manage Snapshots dialog, as if you had loaded the image through the Choose Source dialog.
Dragging a link to shared pattern set to to the Source Image window (or the Pattern window) also open the shared set in SymmetryMill.
Loading a shared set automatically creates a private copy of that set, which you can modify and re-share with the community. The Share Status button in the SymmetryMill toolbar gives you a quick indicator of the current status of the active private set and provides a link to the homepage of the parent shared set. The button can have one of the following icons:
The shared info icon
Indicates a shared set created by another member of the community that is displayed in your session without modifications.
The derived set icon
Indicates somebody else's shared set that you have modified. If you choose to share that set, it will be marked as "Derived" from the parent set.
The revised set icon
Indicates a set that you yourself shared. You can revise, update, or remove the shared set; or you can derive from it, as everybody else.
Removing all the snapshots in the Snapshots panel breaks the link to the parent shared set. After all the shared snapshots are removed, the set is no longer considered "derived" or "revised".
The Preferences button in the SymmetryMill toolbar lets you customize your copy of SymmetryMill. See Preferences.