Taking texture pictures is a bit of a counterintuitive process when you're used to "regular" photography. The goal here is to make the most bland, flat, un-artistic photo possible.
There are 3 different types of textures can you can shoot and that we can use:
- Material texture: will be used for most architectual elements (houses floors & walls) and the environment. They will be used tiled and therefore need to have as little details that stand out as possible.
- (things to pay attention to: everything)
- Object texture: picture of a door, a window (pane or glass), a leaf, etc. They won't be tiled and therefore need to fit less strict requirements than Material textures.
- (things to pay attention to: angle at which the picture is taken)
- Decal textures: details such as cracks, posters, stains, etc. Picture those as stickers that we can paste on other textures to add a bit of variation.
- (things to pay attention to: lighting)
Remember, in this context the value of a photo is not determined by its prettiness or uniqueness, but by its usefulness.
Points to consider
- There's one very simple rule you can follow: more light = better quality. On compact cameras with automatic settings, low light means slow shutter speed that will inevitably result in blurriness and and high ISO that will in turn result in noise. [see Glossary for more details]
- Special modes will not help: "sports" mode might get you a higher shutter speed but will generate chromatic aberration (blue/red outlines). A "high ISO" mode will help you capture more details in dark areas but will worsen the noise.
- Blurriness is particularly problematic because it can happen even under acceptable lighting conditions, especially if your camera is very compact and therefore light, thus making it more difficult to keep a steady hand. This can be helped by using a tripod, or setting your camera on/against any stable surface (that would happen to be at the right place & angle for your picture... good luck with that).
- The picture must be taken at a 90° angle with the surface you're capturing. It might be difficult to achieve if you're taking a picture of the floor because your feet will obscure most of it. You can try to either spread your feet apart a lot (and look like a retard in public, but hey, it's for the sake of art!) or hold your camera as far from your body as you can. You can also look around you to see if you can find something to stand on, this will create a better angle to take the picture in and remove your feet from the picture.
- The image must be as crisp as possible (no blurriness whatsoever) and devoid of noise. Noise filters will always make the texture blurrier while the whole point of a texture is to provide details and grain to a surface.
- Try to take a picture of a surface with as little garbage as possible. Stains, leaves, graffiti, shadows (especially cast by yourself!). Avoid anything that might stand out once the texture is tiled. Some of those can be Photoshopped out but it will make the 2D-artists waste time editing the picture and it will impact the quality of the final image.
- Direct, strong sunlight never results in good pictures as it will either create a light not wanted in the final product and it could create strong, clear cut shadows that will look bad in the game. Always take pictures when the light is diffuse (i.e. with little to no defined shadows). More diffuse is better.
- Appropriate lighting conditions are:
- Overcast/cloudy sky, in the shade or in a neutral environment, meaning not near any exteriors that involve additional subjects.
- Try to avoid taking pictures of wet surfaces. The water will create reflections and/or a slight sheen over the whole picture. You might not see it with the naked eye but those will appear very distinctively once you try to tile the image.
- When taking a picture of a surface made of elements which size vary a lot (like pavement with paving stones of differents sizes), try to get several additional pictures of different areas, so we have an adequate amount of material to draw from to make the texture tilable.
- When in doubt, take a picture anyway. It's not like you're paying for film rolls so snap away – sometimes all you can do is push the button and hope for the best. You'll also learn how your camera works, like which level of light will produce noise, how best to hold it to avoid motion blur, etc.
How to make a photo tilable
You can Google other tutorials using the same keywords, or on general use of the clone and healing brush tools (who will be your best friends).
- Shutter speeds.
In photography, shutter speed is a common term used to discuss exposure time, the effective length of time a camera's shutter is open. The total exposure is proportional to this exposure time, or duration of light reaching the film or image sensor.
In addition to its effect on exposure, the shutter speed changes the way movement appears in the picture. Very short shutter speeds can be used to freeze fast-moving subjects, for example at sporting events. Very long shutter speeds are used to intentionally blur a moving subject for artistic effect. Short exposure times are sometimes called "fast", and long exposure times “slow".
- ISO values.
Film speed (ISO) is roughly related to granularity, the size of the grains of silver halide in the emulsion, since larger grains give film a greater sensitivity to light. Digital noise can be seen a sort of speckled effect in areas of similar color, like skies or dark shadow areas. This is why you should always try and keep your ISO set to the lowest number, and use aperture and shutter speed to get the right exposure. If you can’t do that with aperture or shutter speed, move up to the next ISO setting and try again.