View Full Version : Photoshop brush randomizer

03-14-2010, 08:30 AM
Ok, so I was wondering about something. With Photoshop having a very nice brush-engine and all, this would be ideal to scatter buildings. Now my main problem is that if I use a brush with high spacing, I end up drawing countless copies of the same building.

Pretty good start, but not entirely what I want. It would be ridiculously awesome to be able to select more than one brush (building), and have photoshop automatically randomize them.

For example: I have a round brush, a triangle brush and a square brush. I select all three of them, and when I draw a line, photoshop acts as though I'm switching brushes while drawing. So I end up with a line consisting of randomly ordered triangles, squares and circles, or in our case, different kind of houses, mountains, trees or whatever. All this while acting as a single brush.

Now I realize this is something very few painters would use, but us cartographers would love this. I've been googling myself to near exhaustion, but I cannot find any way of doing it, and I do conclude that it isn't possible. But wouldn't it be possible for a Photoshop plugin to do this? And if so, do we have people technical enough to make it happen?

People with thoughts about how to do this here? Or people with the technical knowledge to make an awesome brush-randomizer?

03-14-2010, 09:22 AM
Near as i can recall, this is part of the holy grail of city making :) Closest anyone's come up with so far is for PSP and Gimp which use "pipes" or "hoses" of different patterns one after the other.

03-14-2010, 09:57 AM
Holy grail indeed... I would set out on a quest for it had I some programming knowledge, but unfortunately, there's none of that in my head. Perhaps I could look into GIMP for a combined use :).

It would be awesome to have in Photoshop though :P

03-14-2010, 11:49 AM
It seems like what you want is this.... http://graphicssoft.about.com/library/weekly/aa032999.htm
More specifically this is the page with the plugin http://www.humansoftware.com/pages1200/Photospray/HSpsp11.html

Looking at the price it's a bit expensive for casual use. You can make your own sprays though, so you could get it to spray buildings trees and everything else.

03-14-2010, 01:18 PM
Holy cow... 80 euro's O.o

It's very expensive, but I might just buy that :S
If only they'd have an evaluation version.

edit: I won't buy it, enthusiasm spoke before the price truly hit :P. I don't have the slightest clue to if it will do what I want in a simple way.

03-14-2010, 07:04 PM
Take a look at my brushes in the Elements section. The closest thing that I've ever come up with is in there called the house brush and the thatch brush but you need some paths for it to work (that part is in my town tutorial). It basically takes a square brush tip and sets a size jitter, rotation jitter, roundness jitter, and increased spacing. The roundness jitter makes the square into random rectangles, the rotation jitter makes them all slightly differently aligned to a path, and size (of course) makes em various sizes. For convenience, the brushes and tuts are in my sig.

03-17-2010, 04:28 PM
Ascension, I think I know what you're getting at without even reading your tut ;) Problem is that my next project is gong to have somewhat unusual house-shapes. Meaning, custom brush... And custom brushes don't respond well to the settings you mentioned. But thanks anyway.

I'm currently trying GIMP, and while it's awesome that people distribute something like this for free, and I know I shouldn't complain about something like this, but coming from Photoshop, I honestly find GIMP to be highly annoying. I know it's some getting used to. Anyway, after a bit of fiddling, yes, I think I found the holy aperitif-cup... not quite a grail yet, since I can't figure out how to make brushes (image pipes) directional (if at all possible in GIMP). I do have it switching randomly from one building to another, it just paints all of them on the same axis...

I think I'm starting to figure out why Coyotemax calls this a 'holy grail'. :P I'll keep you all posted on my 'quest for the Holy Grail of map-making'. Tips will be welcomed of course, but I suspect I might need to look further than GIMP and Photoshop. :(

03-18-2010, 07:10 AM
Painter has or used to have an image hose as well and I think maybe Dogwaffle has something similar? I'm not sure how useful they are because, in addition to dropping randomly sized/positioned/rotated items it seems you'd also want the brush to be "smart" and not overlay the items, have them align in some fashion (along roads or something), etc. and I'm not sure either of those products can manage that bit.

Never messed with macros/scripting in Photoshop but is something possible using that?

03-18-2010, 05:47 PM
Here's a test with a custom brush I did in another post:

03-19-2010, 03:03 PM
To be honest, this kind of result is what I'm more or less looking for, and actually something I already managed. However, I'm working on a city/town with each house consisting of several towers, connected by (rope-)bridges. So each 'house' is a tight arrangement of 3 or more separate buildings. Which makes it a wee bit harder :P

03-19-2010, 07:20 PM
Here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?545-GIMP-Brush-for-drawing-Buildings is a post on doing this with gimp (like Carnifex).

It would be possible to make a tower-bridge-tower brush that follows direction in gimp, even with random tower variations. (randomize the two tower ends, and make all the vridge segments the same).

-Rob A>

04-04-2010, 11:59 AM
RobA, I think you might've hit 'holy grail' level there already ;) :P Just not in the right program.

But I think you might've put me on a good direction. I'm experimenting with GIMP, and I must say that I'm impressed. They should put that functionality in Photoshop. (I've tried GIMPshop, but it crashed on me at startup on 4 different installations divided over 2 computers). So I'm working on a Photoshop-GIMP hybrid way. Since GIMP and Photoshop seem to be working together quite comfy, I'd figure: why not use GIMP for the housing brush, and CREATE the image which will become the brush in photoshop.

To see if it's capable of what I want, I first have to see if it works for me... I'm low on time, so that may take a while. I'll keep you guys posted, and perhaps I'll make a little PS-GIMP-combo tutorial or something if I get it to work like I want it to work.

It may not be a PS brush randomizer (or image-hose or whatever you want to call it), but it seems like a VERY decent solution, especially since GIMP is free.

04-04-2010, 05:35 PM
I just wanted to drop by and say that I'm watching this thread with great anticipation. Before I moved to Photoshop, I made brush pipes (I called them "Animated Brushes") and used them happily all the time. I'm sure someone with programming knowledge could take a look at the Gimp script and convert it for Photoshop, but that guy isn't me. Anyway, Photoshop brush pipes would be massively helpful for photomanipulation and editing, digital painting, cartography, and just about everything else, so I think we should definitely all put our heads together here at the Guild and figure out how to make it work...

04-04-2010, 06:49 PM
For those of you who have continued to experiment with Filter Forge (or similar) - can it be used to apply random shapes (brushes) with randomized settings (i.e., size, rotation) to an area in this way?

04-04-2010, 08:52 PM
Up until 20 seconds ago I didn't even know what filter-forge was. :P

I'll try some fiddling, but I see I have a time-limit to create something useful. 30 days... And I know nothing about it. I think I'm going for the PS-GIMP-hybrid method and wait until someone with a a more technical brain.

edit: Oh, I forgot to post the original message, so this isn't really an edit. :) Anyway, Filter Forge seems more something for rendering effects and other surface improvements. Mainly stuff you make to make a picture prettier, you don't actually create plugins but filters. A filter rather seems a speedy way of applying a multitude of settings at once. I know next to nothing about Filter Forge, but my impression is that what we're looking for won't be coming out of Filter Forge. I may be wrong though.

05-10-2010, 10:02 PM
For those of you who have continued to experiment with Filter Forge (or similar) - can it be used to apply random shapes (brushes) with randomized settings (i.e., size, rotation) to an area in this way?

I'm knowledgeable about Filter Forge, and yes, using the new bomber tool you can scatter and rotate an input image. You can't use the brush in the middle of it, though. It's a filter.

btw: you might also take a look at Art Rage. It's inexpensive (~$20 std - $80 pro) and you can make pretty sophisticated 'image hose' like brushes.

05-19-2010, 12:47 AM
Here's a recent example of using the ArtRage 'sticker sheet' to make trees. It's from a sheet I have of about 64 trees, rendered in a 3d package (Vue), and arrayed on a grid.

It's easy to load the source into artrage and make a sticker. I then brush the trees around. What's going on here is that I've keyed the height channel of the map (the grayscale elevation) to the luminosity of the trees. So they automatically get darker in valleys (by the rivers), and lighter in high spots. Works pretty well, actually.


05-19-2010, 02:56 AM
:O ...that's awesome pixelpusher. It's a great example. I have not understood anything of what you said (and not because of you :D, I just can't get how u managed to obtain this nice result) but this example is incredible!

05-19-2010, 08:32 AM
that looks really good pixelpusher - but what I'm hearing is that you have to have artrage and Vue? to do this? Are they plugins or programs in their own right?

05-19-2010, 07:27 PM
raskat: thanks!

tilt: thanks. It's really just Artrage. You can do a similar technique using whatever trees you have handy. I just had some laying around that I'd done before in Vue. Artrage is a program in it's own right. It's inexpensive: $20-$80 US http://www.artrage.com/index.html

Here's a screenshot:

On the right you can see the array of trees, just a big .png. ArtRage calls this a 'sticker sheet', and you can drag and place them individually or using the spray tool, which you can see at left. The spray settings are very robust, and you can create a lot of controls using the settings (like what I'm doing with the tree brightness up in my post above.

Vue is a separate program in it's own right. Learn more over at http://www.e-onsoftware.com/ There is a free version you can play around with, but it watermarks any renderings.

05-19-2010, 07:32 PM
nice sample image. I wonder if Adobe CS5 added anything like this. Guess I'll go have a quick search and see. If not I'll go check out Artrage.

05-19-2010, 11:26 PM
Yeah, me too. That looks sweet.

05-20-2010, 03:11 AM
looks like the brushes in CS5 works just as they used to... *sigh* (haven't delved deep in the recesses of the program though)