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Can I generate something similar using only Photoshop? Or should I be sourcing a wood texture and process that?

Is there any standard advice on the processing of wood textures?

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I saw this recently posted on the game development stackexhange: (… ). It talks about a method to deal with the visual duplication in repeated textures. Very interesting IMO. – horatio Feb 29 '12 at 20:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you Google it, you will find dozens of tutorials:

But my stock answer is to go take a picture of some wood grain that you like.

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I concur on the photo: you're almost always going to get a better result by starting with actual wood which grew somewhere than trying to create something from scratch. (I hedge with "almost" because, you know, Pixar.) – Lauren Ipsum Feb 29 '12 at 20:59
@Lauren: I have to disagree. For certain projects, you don't want a photo-realistic look (and good thing too, or a lot of illustrators would be out of work). Additionally, in this particular case, it would be difficult to achieve a perfectly head-on shot and have perfectly even lighting. In the case of iBooks, it's most likely rendered rather than photographed. – Lèse majesté Feb 29 '12 at 21:29
@Lese Good point. That said, even when you don't want a photo-realistic end-result, starting with an actual photo as reference can speed up the process. – DA01 Feb 29 '12 at 21:48
Yea, I would recommend using a reference, especially on things you're not used to drawing or rendering. I'm just saying that for many graphic styles, it's faster to start from scratch than manipulating a photo. – Lèse majesté Feb 29 '12 at 21:53
Faux anything only works when it's done using the real thing as a reference. Folks who do successful faux finishes (marble, wood, etc.) know this intimately. – Alan Gilbertson Feb 29 '12 at 23:37

You can do quite convincing wood textures in Photoshop if you're willing to put in the time and you have a couple of decent images of the actual wood to work from. It's an art, though, and unless you feel confident with the tools you're not likely to get a convincing result in a short time. Most of the tutorials out there produce okay-but-not-convincing results, unlike your iBookshelf example. They're fine when you just want to suggest a wooden texture, but not if you want to make it look thoroughly real.

It's an odd truth that even though most people couldn't tell you what tree a particular piece of finished wood came from, they can easily tell the difference between an artificial texture that mimics an actual type of wood and one that is merely "wood-like" and doesn't have a real world counterpart. That's why, if you want to really sell the illusion you have to start with the real thing.

In most cases, the shortest path to success is to take some photographs and either adjust and crop (and/or clone) in Photoshop or work directly from them using the Eyedropper and Gradient Mesh tool in Illustrator.

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I found this nice tutorial, and this guy also has the source PSD files. This might help.

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