For this tutorial you will need a woodcut pattern with fine lines and detail. The one I am using is taken from the Dover woodcuts in the IMSI Masterclips 202000 collection. The same woodcuts are in the Masterclips 303000 collection, but those are lo-res copies which, on the whole, do not work well with this technique. You can scan a woodcut from a book or picture. If you wish to use the pattern I have used download it here.

Preparing the pattern

If your pattern is not a true colour (24 bit colour) pattern, begin by converting it. (The violets pattern needs to be converted). Use Format/Data Type. Check Create a New Image and click on True Colour (24Bit). A second copy of the pattern will appear on the workspace, and you can then close down the original one. This will keep your original pattern intact, and ensure that you do not accidentally overwrite it with a modification.

We need to make a fairly large image for the detail to show, but the violets pattern is far too big. If you look at the bar at the top of the pattern's window you will see it is displayed at 1:4 zoom and is 992x1500 pixels. Use Format/Dimensions, with User Defined and Keep Aspect Ratio checked. Set Width and Height to 50 and Unit to percent. Check Apply to Base Image and click OK. Your pattern will look a little fuzzy, and is now 1:2 zoom, 496x750 pixels. This is still larger that our finished image will be, but you cannot get sufficient detail in the image in a smaller one. Once the image is created, we can resize and sharpen and the detail will be preserved.

Use Effect/Blur & Sharpen/Sharpen and click on the last of the five thumbnails to get the maximum sharpness in the pattern. With different patterns you may need less sharpening. Experiment.

Save the pattern now as pattern.bmp

Now use the magic wand from the selection tools. Set the attributes as shown below.

Click somewhere on the white area surrounding the violets, then use Edit/Selection/Invert. Your image will look like the picture on the left.

Now use Edit/Selection/Copy Selection to Object Library. Recently-Used does not matter, but set the other options as shown below and click OK.

You no longer need the pattern and can close it down, but if you are not using the violet pattern, make a note of the dimensions of your pattern before you close it.

Making the glass

Open a new image, about 50 pixels wider and higher than your pattern. For the violets I opened one 550x800. Set the foreground colour to the base colour for your glass. For the violets I used a lilac shade, red 193, green 153, blue 253. Select the fill tool, and right click on the fill colour at the left of the attribute toolbar. Set it to the foreground colour. Set Similarity 50, Transparency 0, Merge always. Click in your new image to fill it with the base colour.

Select the path tool. On the attributes toolbar set the colour to foreground colour and Mode to Path. Click the Edit button and select Rounded Rectangle. Now click and drag to draw a rounded rectangle in your image, which is big enough to take the picture from your pattern. For the violets I used almost the whole width of the image, but left space top and bottom because the violets have a lot of white space above in the original picture, and I want them centred in the glass.

Change the mode from Path to 3d round. There will be quite a long pause while the 3d shape is constructed. What it looks like will largely depend on the last settings you used, and it does not matter anyway.

If you do not normally have the easy palette open, use View/Toolbars and Panels and check Easy Palette to open it now. Click on the left hand button at the top of the easy palette and check Material Gallery. When the material gallery is displayed, click on the Preset Tab, and scroll down till you see Droplet 1. Double click on droplet 1, and after a pause while the material is applied, you will see your glass block.

Use Edit/Selection/Merge All.

Select the Magic Wand selection tool. Set Mode New, Similarity 0 and check Select by Line. Click in your image to select the area outside your glass block.

Use the fill tool. Change the fill colour to white, set Similarity 1, Transparency 0, Merge Always, and click in the selected area to make the background to your glass block white.

Use Edit/Selection/None.

On the easy palette, click on the second button from the left (open folder with a star) and check Image Library. Click on the mask tab and scroll right to the bottom, where you will find the last thumbnail is for your pattern selection. Double click on it and the selection will appear in your image. Click on the arrow at the top of the toolbar, place the cursor on the selection. Move it till it changes to the cross-shaped moving tool, then click and drag the selection to the right position on your glass block.

Now use Edit/Selection/Copy Selection to Object Library. Use the same settings as before, but name this one Vi2. From now on use this copy of the selection because it will always return to exactly the right place in your image.

Use Edit/Selection/Expand & Shrink/. Check expand and set to 1 pixel. Click OK.

Right click on the foreground colour and select Windows Colour Picker. At the right of the colour picker window is this shade bar, with the arrow against the foreground colour. Click on the small square two below the arrow, to darken the foreground colour slightly.

Select the fill tool. Set the fill colour to the foreground colour, Similarity 50, Transparency 0, Merge always, and click in the selection (on a turquoise bit). A slightly blurred image of the pattern will appear, in a darker colour, on the glass block.

Use Edit/Select/None.

Use Effect/Blur & Sharpen/Gaussian Blur. Click on the centre thumbnail, which will blur the image even more. This degree of gaussian blur suits the violets pattern in the size I have suggested here. With other patterns and sizes it may have to be reduced. If the whole glass block is so blurred that the highlights are invisible, use Undo and do the gaussian blur again, using a thumbnail with less blurring.

The etching

Right click on the foreground colour and select the Windows Colour Picker. Click on the third square from the top of the shade bar, which will give you a very light tint, but not white.
These are the etching steps, which you will have to repeat several times.

1) In the Easy Palette masks (which should still be open) double click on Vi2, to put the selection back in the image.

2) Use Edit/Selection/Convert to object.

3) Use Edit/Object/Add Shadow. Right click on the colour and set it to the foreground colour. Set the other parameters as shown below.

Repeat these three steps twice more. Do NOT be tempted to use Edit/Repeat Drop Shadow, or to skip reloading the selection from the easy palette each time. When you add a drop shadow the selection is expanded to include it. If you do not return each time to the original selection you will be widening the lines at every step. The purpose of this is to make the lines more visible without thickening them.

You do not need to wait for the selection marquee to be displayed all over the image after each step. You can go on with the next instruction, because the marquee is only to show you where the selection is. The selection is fully in place even if only a bit of the marquee is showing. Just be sure, after you have double clicked on the mask to reload the selection, that the marquee colour has changed to turquoise and black before going on to make the selection an object.

Repeat the steps three times again, but with the shadow colour changed to white.

Use Edit/Selection/Merge All.

If you need to crop the image to remove surplus background, do so now.

You can now reduce the image size, but do not make it too small. You need to be able to see the individual lines in the etching in the finished picture. I reduced the violets to 60% of the size I had been working on.

Now use Effect/Blur & Sharpen/Sharpen and click on the second thumbnail from the left in the top row.

Save your finished image. If you wish to use it on a website you must save it as a .gif - NOT a .jpg which will degrade the colours. Otherwise save it as a .ufo or a .bmp.

This is my finished etching. Enjoy making yours.



Carol Brooksbank 2003
This tutorial may not be copied to any other website nor distributed in any way. It may be downloaded for personal use only. Links to my tutorials at are welcome.


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