Tricks for Quickly Making Seamless Brick Textures from a Photograph

Taking a texture photograph of a brick wall and making it seamless in an editor such as Adobe Photoshop or Gimp can be performed fairly quickly with a few methods and tricks. In this example, I will use Gimp just because I've been using it more and more lately and have been becoming a fan of it. The steps in Photoshop are pretty much the same since nothing here is too complicated. The first thing we'll do is browse around and find a stock photo of a brick wall to use. Next, either using the rectangular region or free select tool, pick a nice portion of the texture we want to use. Make your selection end along the mortar joints in the brick and select a region that has as much even coloring and lighting as possible. It may take a little bit to develop an 'eye' for variations in the texture that will cause the 'quilting effect' where they easily pop out at you when tiled. The image below shows the region of the original image we'll use:

Selecting the Portion of the Stock Photo we Want to Make Seamless

Now copy and paste your selected region as a new image to work with. If your selection wasn't rectangular to begin with, this is a good time to use the perspective tool to straighten your brick up so it is nice and square and crop the edges of the image. Here is our brick ready to be made into seamless tiles:

Brick Texture We Now Want to Make Seamless

The next step is a very common one in the world of making seamless textures and shows up in many guides and how-to's across the internet. You will now take your brick layer and offest it in X and Y by exactly half of the image's dimensions. Gimp and Photoshop have the ability to automatically determine these values for you with a button click. Go to Layer, Transform, Offset to bring up the Layer Offset Dialog:

Gimp's Layer Offset Dialog

Click the Offset by x/2, y/2 button, make sure Wrap around is selected, and click Offset. You now have an image that has been wrapped around itself vertically and horizontally so that its edges now meet in the center of the image. From here on out, we can be assured that the edges of the image will tile seamlessly and we now need to focus on fixing the seams across the middle of the image. Depending on how well you selected the brick region to begin with, the horizontal seam may not be too bad and may just need some quick blurring or clone tool in the mortar. The vertical seem typically joins two separate bricks together and will need a little more work. Here is our offset image:

Our Layer Offset, Ready to Have its Seam Fixed Up

From here, I typically start at the top and work my way to the bottom of the image, cleaning up the seam at each brick. The seams in mortar are quite easy, just some blurring and/or clone tooling. Maybe some patching here and there:

Fixing Up Some Mortar Seams

Now, when we hit a brick that has a seam down the middle of it, we can do a few things depending on how bad it looks. If the top and bottom and mortar still line up, some blurring and cloning should do the trick. When things don't line up so well, my favorite trick is to copy the larger portion of the brick with some of the mortar in the selection:

Copy The Larger Portion of the Brick

Then paste the selection you just copied and horizontally mirror it:

Horizontally Mirrored Section of Brick

Now, just move your section over the smaller part of the brick with the ugly seam and paste it so it lines up with itself. Since you are using the same brick, the edges should line up pretty nicely and now more of the seam should be in the mortar, which is much easier to touch up then brick edges. The seam inside the brick can now be touched up:

New Brick Selection Covering the Older Ugly Seam

Using the horizontally mirroring method, you can quickly move down the image brick by brick, fixing them up. Once done, view your entire image and touch up anything else you see:

Image With Brick Seams Touched Up

Both Gimp and Photoshop have easy ways to tile your new seamless texture to make sure it looks good tiled. Let's take a look at how well it tiles:

Our New Seamless Brick Texture Tiled!

Looks pretty good! Some of the different colored bricks or mortar with variations may pop out to your eye and show the 'quilting effect' but we can always fine tune those out as well.