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The Materials Palette
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The Materials Palette
Created by: Prof

This series of tutorials is oriented toward helping those new users of PSP 9 to learn the basics of this great graphic program. The tutorials are written to introduce the basic features, tools and palettes and build upon one another. Also, the tutorials may be used as a reference for using particular tools, palettes and features of PSP.

The Materials Palette

In the first three lessons we explored how to configure toolbars and palettes to set up a customized workspace and how to use the Layers palette and layers to create graphics. In this lesson we will explore the Materials palette and its features.

Purpose and Goal of this Tutorial:

  • Overview of how colors are generated on a PC
  • The Materials palette and its features
  • Some examples

How Colors are Generated on a PC

A full discussion of how colors are generated on a computer would be quite technical and unnecessary for learning how to use PSP. Thus, this brief overview is very non-technical and comments on just a few basics of color generation.

  • A computer is capable of displaying over 16 million colors.
  • A 16 million color canvas simply means one can use the full range of colors to create one's graphics.
  • A 16 million color canvas is also known as a 24 bit image.
  • The basic colors (8) are Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, White and Black.
  • In a computer, all colors are combinations of Red, Green, and Blue.
  • All colors have a value for R, G, and B (red, green, blue) of zero (0) to 255 in decimal value or zero (0) to FF in hexadecimal value.
  • All colors have three sets of values: a Red value, a green value and a blue value.
  • All colors can also be displayed in three additional sets of values: a Hue value, a Saturation value and a Lightness value.
  • The most common form of displaying color values is using R, G, B values.
  • All colors (as a rule) are displayed in hexadecimal values when used on a web page or in HTML code.
  • The hexadecimal value for the Color White is FF FF FF or Red = FF, Green = FF and Blue = FF. The decimal values are 255 255 255.
  • Color depth refers to the number of colors used in a graphic and can vary from two colors through 256 colors (for GIF files) to 16 million colors.

The New Image and Color Depth

In Lesson #3 on Using Layers, there is a brief discussion of creating a new image and about the Color Depth with an illustration of the New Image dialog window. In this lesson, we are going to only explore a New Image canvas of 16 million colors. (However, if you choose other color depths your Materials window color wheel will reflect the number of colors you chose for your new image.)

Materials Palette Frame Tab Materials Palette Rainbow Tab Materials Palette Swatches Tab

The Materials Palette

Choosing Colors

One has three options for viewing the Materials palette and choosing colors depending upon which tab is selected:

  1. Materials Palette Frame Tab The Frame tab (new in PSP 9) has a frame around the hue selected which displays the saturation and luminance colors in its center. To select a hue, place cursor around the frame and click on the color hue wanted. In the center area, to select a Saturation value move the cursor from right to left. To select Luminance move the cursor up or down.

    The selection will be shown in the top (Foreground) Materials box if left-clicking with the mouse and in the bottom (Background) Materials box if right-clicking.

    To select a Gray scale click on the black-to-white strip below the frame.
  2. Materials Palette Rainbow Tab The Rainbow tab shows all the colors in the color box. Colors (hue, saturation and luminance) are selected by placing the cursor on a rainbow color which will then be displayed in the Materials box.
  3. Materials Palette Swatches Tab The Swatches tab displays colors/styles that have been saved as swatches so that commonly used colors are easily recalled. Just select the swatch wanted for either foreground or background.

The Materials Properties Window

The Color Tab

Another way to select colors as well as other Materials palette options is to double-click on a Materials box, either the Foreground box or the Background box, to select for that box. In the Materials Properties window we have many different options for choosing colors and creating materials.

On the Color tab, we see a Color Wheel which is like the Frame in the Materials palette. The outer ring is the hue and the inner area is the saturation and lightness. These values all function in the same way as they do in the Frame color box.

Below the Color Wheel, there is a box of the six basic colors (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, purple) that includes 48 common hues from brilliant to black/white. On can just select a color from this color box.

One could also use the R, G, B or the H, S, L boxes to select colors. One could click on the up/down arrows to change the value of a color box by single digits, or one could click on the right arrow for a color slider box and select the color or hue. In the illustration, the values are for a red foreground and are in decimal numbers.

If one wanted to use hexadecimal numbers they would set it from File || Preferences || General Program Preferences and click on the 'Palettes' tab. Then one just selects 'Hexadecimal Display'.

'Link Colors' will do very little so just leave it checked. The HTML box will be the HTML color code that would be used for a web page.


The Gradient Tab

Another option for selecting materials is to use a Gradient in which one has a number of presets to choose from. A gradient is a color pattern that blends colors together in a particular fashion. One can create one's own gradients but this feature is a more advanced one in PSP.

As with all features of PSP often the best teacher is experience, trial (and error) and just trying it. There are a number of options one can use with gradients that create different graphics. The experimentation initially is best done on a full canvas (no selections) so that one can see the full effect of the gradient and the options set.

Gradients often are used as background images. Also, gradients can be used as web page background tiles and are seamless (one does not see the edges).

The Gradient Options

  • Style: There are four possible Styles of gradients, each with its available options: Linear, Rectangular, Sunburst, and Radial. Running the mouse over a Style box will display its name.
  • Angle: There are two ways to change the Angle of how the gradient is displayed; (1) Place mouse cursor over the arm in the gradient preview box, or (2) use the Angle option box to set the value.
  • Repeats: The gradient pattern can be repeated by setting a value here; very interesting effects can be achieved that way.
  • Invert: When this box is checked the gradient pattern is inverted. Experiment to find a preferred gradient pattern.
  • Center Point: This option allows moving the center point horizontally and/or vertically for different effects.
  • Focal Point: The Focal Point allows changing the center point's perspective for different effects.
  • Link center and focal points: When checked both are linked and change in the same way horizontally and vertically. When unchecked one can move the focal point independently from the center point.

Gradients can also be used within selections such as text to give it a varied coloration effect. There are other options as well for using gradients to create interesting effects.


The Gradient Styles

  •  Linear: The only options available for a Linear Gradient are Angle, Repeats and Invert. Repeating this gradient usually creates shaded (3D) bars. One also might use this type of gradient as a background for creating pictures (using blue will create a varied sky color as an example).
  •  Rectangular: All options are available for a Rectangular gradient. This gradient creates an effect that can look like the inside of a box or when inverted a type of button. Although one can check or uncheck the Link box, there is no appreciable difference in the effect for either the Center Point and/or Focal Point options. In fact, when unchecked, the Center Point does not change.
  •  Sunburst: All options are available with the Sunburst Gradient. This gradient can create some spectacular 3D circular designs particularly if one unchecks the Link box and uses Repeats as well as experiments with the Center Point and Focal Point values.
  •  Radial: All options except the Focal Point are available for the Radial Gradient. This gradient also can create some very interesting effects particularly when using the Repeats option.

The Pattern Tab

Another option one has for choosing Materials is to select the Pattern tab where there are a number of preset patterns one may select. These patterns can be used as backgrounds and also within selections for decorative coloring. As with gradients there are many ways to use patterns.

In addition to creating one's own patterns one can also use an existing image (graphic, photograph etc.) as a pattern. As long as that image is opened in the current workspace one will see it displayed in the Pattern selection window.

There are only two options one can set: The 'Angle' at which the pattern will be displayed and the Size from 100% to 10%. Again to determine how a pattern will display with different values one should just experiment and select values one likes.


The Texture Option

Another option one may choose with any of the three Color, Gradient, or Pattern tabs is 'Texture'. When the 'Texture' option is checked the selected texture will be overlayed with the chosen color, gradient, or pattern.

There are only two values one may set with Textures: Angle and Size. Again, experience is the best teacher. Tip: To best see a texture used with either a color, gradient, or pattern use it on a layer above a solid background layer. When using textures the main presentation of the selected color, gradient or pattern will have transparent areas as governed by the texture.


The Style Buttons

Another quick way to set your Material to a color, gradient or pattern that has been selected before, and to also select a texture if you want to, or to set that Foreground or Background Material to Transparent, is to use the Style Buttons that function as quick selectors. Just below the color boxes there are three buttons. The first when clicked on will give a flyout of three options: Color, Gradient, or Pattern. The second when clicked will set the Texture on/off. The third when clicked will set that Material to Null/Transparent.

One will use the Transparency at times when one doesn't want either the foreground or background to show when using a tool such as the Text tool. Thus these quick Style Buttons will save a bit of time from having to click on the Materials box, selecting the color, gradient or pattern tab, and setting a texture if wanted.

New Image     Materials Palette - Materials Box  Materials Gradient Option

Flood Fill Tool

New Raster Layer     Materials Palette - Materials Box  Materials Solid Color Option Materials Texture Option

Flood Fill Tool

A Couple of Examples

Here are two examples using just the Materials palette and some of its options to create an interesting graphic. Both examples use a background layer and a top layer.

Create a new image: 300 x 300, 16 Million Colors, Background = White

Click into the Foreground Materials box and select the Gradient tab:
– Gradient = Duotone light blue
– Style = Sunburst
– Angle = n/a
– Repeat = 12
– Invert = checked
– Link center and focal points = unchecked
– Center Point Horizontal = 76
– Center Point Vertical = 53
– Focal Point Horizontal = 66
– Focal Point Vertical = 74
– Texture = unchecked

Click on OK. Use the Flood Fill tool and flood-fill the Background layer with this gradient.

Create a new layer (Layers || New Raster Layer), click again into the Foreground Materials box and select the Color tab this time:
– Color = Blue (Red = 35, Green = 86, Blue = 252; #2356fb)
– Texture = checked: Brick Wall
– Angle = 0
– Size = 10

Click on OK and flood-fill the new layer with this textured color.

New Image     Materials Palette - Materials Box  Materials Pattern Option

Flood Fill Tool

New Raster Layer

Selection Tool     Flood Fill Tool

For the second example, create another new image: 300 x 300, 16 Million Colors, Background = White

Click into the Foreground Materials box and select the Pattern tab:
– Pattern = Cracked Paint
– Angle = 100
– Scale = 100
– Texture = unchecked

Click on OK. Use the Flood Fill tool and flood-fill the Background layer with this Pattern.

Create a new layer and click into the Materials box again. Leave the Pattern tab selected and set:
– Pattern = Animal Tiger
– Angle = 0
– Scale = 10

Click on OK. Use the Selection tool:
– Selection type = Star 1
– all other options = default

Draw the selection in the middle of the canvas, then use the Flood Fill tool and flood-fill the selection. Deselect (Selections || Select None or Ctrl+D).


Final Thoughts

The Materials palette is quite versatile and allows for the selection of colors, gradients, patterns and for overlaying textures. Thus one has a range of ways to paint canvases and selections.

With the examples, save them as .PSPIMAGE or .PSP files as they will be used again in another lesson on effects. Enjoy!