Pattern Design for the Rest of Us
SymmetryMill Tutorials

SymmetryMill for Fashion: Applying Textures to SketchUp Models (Basics)

In this tutorial, we use SymmetryMill and SketchUp to create and interactively edit pattern designs for garments. Since SymmetryMill lets you design seamless repeating patterns and SketchUp lets you apply your patterns to physical models, this powerful combination is ideally suited for the job. And since both programs are available in free versions, you can deploy and master them without spending a dime. And then upgrade to the full version of SymmetryMill when you are ready to use it professionally.

We start with a simple model that comes immediately ready for applying SymmetryMill patterns. Then breeze through just a bit more complicated case where we must tweak the model before the applied pattern becomes visible (a model's surface needs to be turned inside out). And at the end, we learn how to access the newly created SymmetryMill patterns (through the standard SketchUp Materials panel, as you might have expected).

The surfaces that we paint here, a blouse and a dress, are also very simple and, in fact, consist of a single flat face. As we learn in a follow-up tutorial, painting curved surfaces is quite similar and requires only a few more steps.

Let's get started

1 SymmetryMill works inside SketchUp with the help of a free plug-in. If you do not have it installed yet, see the download and installation instructions.

2 Load the 2D_Woman_Front model from 3D Warehouse (or a similar simple model if you prefer).

3 Make sure that the Select tool is active and click the left part of the white blouse. Then hold down the Shift key and click the right side of the blouse. This should select the whole blouse.

In more complex models, the surface that you want to paint may happen to be inside a component or a group. In that case, you will need to double-click the component (group) to edit it and then click the target surface. And in still more complex models, you may have to double-click the components several times to drill down to your target.

4 Now click the SymmetryMill Texture Editor Window to bring it up front. If you do not see that window, chose Plugins > SymmetryMill to open it.

5 The blouse is now linked to SymmetryMill so all changes you make in the SymmetryMill window will be automatically applied to your SketchUp model—as soon as you click a SymmetryMill button or make some other edit. Try it. It's fun!

Should your blouse become deselected, simply select it again (using the Select tool) and continue. Notice that all the pattern settings are restored once you select the blouse again, even if you changed some settings in the meantime.

In the end, we chose the Parallel mirrors & glide symmetry, added some horizontal and vertical blending, and moved around the control path. The result is in this SketchUp file. If you need some help with SymmetryMill controls, these SymmetryMill tutorials will help you get started.

Reversing the face

So far so good, but what if you chose some other SketchUp model and followed all these steps, but your SymmetryMill pattern does not show up? This can happen for several reasons; one is that your painted surface is simply facing the other way. SymmetryMill always paints the front surface (the one that is a light tan or white by default) and if you see only the back side (the blue by default), your texture will not be visible. To correct this, right-click the face and choose Reverse Faces.

And of course make sure that the View > Face Style > Shaded With Texture menu item is checked—or you will not see any textures at all!

1 As an example:

  1. Open the 2D-Cheri model from 3D Warehouse.
  2. If the Entity Info panel is not opened, choose Window > Entity Info to open it (it will be useful).
  3. Click the black dress using the Select tool.

2 Make an edit in the SymmetryMill Texture Editor window and notice that the new SymmetryMill texture shows up in the Entity Info panel. And yet the dress remains black as if nothing has changed in the model.

3 Right-click the black dress (on Windows) or Control-click (on Mac OS) and choose Reverse Faces. Your SymmetryMill pattern should become visible. You can download the end result as a SketchUp file.

Another possible cause for textures not showing up is a special "Color by Layer" style, which you can use with SymmetryMill too, but that is a topic of a separate tutorial.

Accessing Your SymmetryMill Patterns

SketchUp paints surfaces by applying materials (textures) to them and SymmetryMill paints your patterns the same way too. When you select a surface and make edits in the SymmetryMill window, SymmetryMill adds a new material to your model. However, if your selected surface is already painted with SymmetryMill, then SymmetryMill modifies the material in place. You can therefore find your SymmetryMill textures in the Window > Materials panel; choose In Model (Windows) or Colors in Model (Mac OS) in the material library popup and look for materials with a name that starts with "SymmetryMill Tile."

You can then double-click the SymmetryMill Tile and edit it as any other SketchUp material—change its name, its repeat size, and even edit the texture image in an external editor (but in that latter case, you will have to make sure that the texture image still repeats after your edits, something that SymmetryMill does for you automatically).

As usual in SketchUp, modifying the values in the Width and Height fields of the Edit Material section does not change the actual source image for the texture (which remains exactly the same as constructed by SymmetryMill). It only changes the repeat size of your texture, that is, the scale at which the image tiles your SketchUp model.

Finally, since SymmetryMill textures are but usual SketchUp materials, you can treat them as such; sample with the eye dropper, paint with the Paint Bucket tool—or use the "projected texture" feature, which is useful when applying a texture to complex curved surfaces, as is shown in the next tutorial.