Art Technique Filter
March 17, 2010 9:52 PM   Subscribe

What's the name of the technique used on the background of this book cover, and how would one get the same effect in Photoshop?
posted by dws to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would call that hatching. I am not sure how best to create such an effect in Photoshop... perhaps by creating a brush that consisted of a bunch of parallel lines, and then applying a slight random rotation each time you draw with it? I think Photoshop can do that.
posted by oulipian at 9:57 PM on March 17, 2010

If you're asking for a filter that does hatching/crosshatching, I don't know of one. You can create a brush that will approximate the effect (here's one you can download along with a tutorial on how to use it). You may find you get better results with a pencil and a scanner.
posted by maniactown at 10:12 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

This site shows you how to do something similar, but the hatching is a bit finer, than in the image you showed us:

This is a photoshop brush that gives the effect of crosshatching, but as the poster says, you'll need to play around with the scatter settings in the brush window:


try playing with the opacity as well, with some of these brushes, to get the effect you want.

good luck~
posted by joyeuxamelie at 10:28 PM on March 17, 2010

Yup, it's called cross-hatching.

Probably the easiest way to do it (presuming you're covering a large-ish area and don't want to sketch it out one line at a time) is to draw yours out like this in a pattern you like, then make a brush out of it like this, and apply it to whatever area you wish to cover or make a seamless tile out of it like this in whatever size you need.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:41 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

not exactly the same, but here's a tutorial on making sketches that I originally found on a microsoft site, then modified:
posted by dogwelder at 10:42 PM on March 17, 2010

Cross-hatching it is, though the artist who did Pratchett's cover did cross-hatching without much crossing, which gives it a novel look. The tutorial comes pretty darn close to what I'm looking for. Thanks!
posted by dws at 10:51 PM on March 17, 2010

... and thanks, oulipian, for the link to Wikipedia. The history of hatching in heraldry was a surprise bonus.
posted by dws at 10:54 PM on March 17, 2010

" would one get the same effect in Photoshop?"

The real answer here is to stop assuming that everything you see was created with a quick fix in Photoshop. Someone drew those lines and scanned them in, arguably taking less time than scouring the web for brushes and plugins and posting on Ask MetaFilter.
posted by Robot Johnny at 6:37 AM on March 18, 2010

I was going to say it is a photograph of a wall with a textured finish, but yeah, it is too random/unique to be a filter or plugin kind of thing.
posted by gjc at 7:02 AM on March 18, 2010

It looks more like a woodcut-style texture, but given the subject matter, I'd imagine it's intending to mirror the engraving style of US currency, a non-currency example of which can be seen here.
posted by CharlesV42 at 7:23 AM on March 18, 2010

Careful there, Robot Johnny. My question, and the bit you echoed, doesn't support your assumption that I have an assumption that the original was done in Photoshop. Your "real answer" fits a different scenario.
posted by dws at 7:38 AM on March 18, 2010

My apolgoies, dws. I do know what you were asking, I just didn't have my coffee yet.

All too often, though, I see people looking for ways to replicate textures, effects, or hand-drawn elements using Photoshop, when it's often easier and more authentic to just do it the analog way.

So that said, why does it need to be done in Photoshop, and why can't you just draw it by hand?
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:51 AM on March 18, 2010

Because my mediocre Photoshop chops far exceed my pathetic by-hand skills.
posted by dws at 8:07 AM on March 18, 2010

For anyone else who looked at the cover and thought, "that's kind of neat," I tracked down a bit more about the style and the artist, Scott McKowan. The art is done on scratchboard that's later digitized and colored.
posted by dws at 8:21 AM on March 18, 2010

While I too am in the "not everything can or should be done with filters" camp, FlamingPear's India Ink filter would make a decent starting point towards approximating this effect.

(I'd do a bunch of different layers each filled with a single hatch direction, then mask out chunks of each of them with just a tiny bit of feathering. Wouldn't be quite the same as using a custom brush, but you wouldn't have to worry about accidentally overlapping your hatches.)
posted by ook at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2010

You can get a similar effect using a rake or comb. Pretty self explanatory as to what these brushes look like. The digital version of this is not a crosshatch brush (like above), but a brush that simply has five or six points...and some careful directionality settings, so that the edge of the brush always faces the direction of motion. Imagine a bunch of pencils wired together, as though you're trying to write lines in duplicate If you use a tablet, and depending on how much time you want to spend, you can also create a brush which has fewer/more strokes based on pen pressure.

Also, for more complicated shapes a vector-based program like Inkscape can have some useful features, for example the assisted hatching which is demonstrated near the bottom of this page.
posted by anaelith at 11:17 PM on March 18, 2010

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