Custom Paint Patterns

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SoftPlan allows you to use several different types of paint including Shapes, Solid, and Image.

For this tutorial we will be discussing the Shapes paint type. SoftPlan calls this Lines paint but I'm calling it Shapes because any shape can be used. It is not limited to just Lines. However, if you use Splines you should explode them. Otherwise instead of smooth curves you will end up with straight lines connecting the control points.

A Shapes Paint pattern is simply a repeating pattern. Depending on the specific pattern, many paint patterns can be defined with just a few lines. The more complex patterns such as a good stone paint can require quite a few lines over a larger area.

Click to See Full Size Image

Take a look at this Escher pattern. It would appear to be a very complex pattern but in fact this can be created with just a few lines. The blue lines are the actual lines that make up the pattern. The pink box around the blue lines is the Paint Definition Template. And the pink pattern is a preview of how the paint will look.

Paint patterns can be created in a variety of ways. You can take an existing paint and explode it. You can import a file such as a DWG or DXF file that contains a paint pattern. Or you can create one from scratch using shapes.

Here is a little trick to allow you to edit an existing Paint pattern. Paint patterns are actually symbols. Some are made up of just shapes while others contain a special Paint Definition Template. SoftPlan doesn't provide a way to insert an existing Paint symbol into your drawing. But if you make a copy of the Paint symbol and place it in your Symbols folder you can insert the paint as a regular symbol. Follow these steps to create a copy of your Paint patterns in your Symbols folder.

  1. Browse to the base SoftPlan folder.
  2. Right click on the Paint folder and drag it down to the Symbols folder.
  3. Release the right mouse button and select 'Copy here'.

Now you can insert one of these copied paint patterns directly in your drawing just like any other symbol. Once you have inserted the paint pattern explode it and you will have the shapes and Paint Definition Template, if that paint uses one, for that pattern.



Whatever method you choose to create the paint pattern all you need to have is one instance of the repeatable pattern. This lattice paint pattern is created using just 8 lines.

Once you have your pattern drawn you need to turn the pattern into a paint. To do this you can use either of these two methods.

A) Add a Paint Definition Template. The Paint Definition Template is a rectangular area that surrounds the pattern and defines what shapes are to be included in the Paint.

The basic steps are:

  1. Select Draw-->Paint-->Paint Definition Template
  2. Draw a rectangle around the pattern. You will see a preview of what the Paint will look like
  3. Edit the Paint Definition Template rectangle and select Add Pattern
  4. Give the Paint a Name and Location and then select OK

The size of the Paint Definition Template is very important. It must be exactly the size of the repeating pattern you have drawn. The advantage of using the Paint Definition Template is that you get a preview of what the paint pattern will look like and you can make any changes before you save the pattern.

-- or --

B) Create as you would a normal Symbol

  1. Select File-->System Options-->System Library
  2. Select the Paint library
  3. Select One Step
  4. Draw a box around the paint pattern

After using either of these methods the paint pattern will be created and it will disappear from the screen. If you immediately hit the Backspace key the pattern will reappear. I typically do this so if I need to make any modifications after testing the paint pattern I have the original right there to work with.

I am attaching the Escher and Lattice paint patterns created for this Tutorial. Practice recreating them and see how closely you can match them yourself.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com

Tutorial Files

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