Continuous Tubes in PSP

If you ever wanted to add things like lace on your images, you’ve probably realized that it’s a pain trying to piece bits of lace or even seams together to make it work.

This tutorial will show you how to take a photo or scan of a section of lace, ribbon, elastic, etc., and turn it into a continuous tube in Paint Shop Pro.

First, find some lace. There are plenty of images on the web, just be sure you ask for permission before you use them for commercial purposes and don’t share them without permission either. Go to a fabric store and buy six inches of a lace or ribbon you like. Just make sure that the entire pattern is on that six inches (get more if you need to).

The image needs to be of sufficient size to give you some nice details.

The image will also need to be as straight as possible, so whether you find a photo of one or take a photo or scan of your own, keep this in mind. White/light lace/ribbon should be on a black background, black/dark lace/ribbon should be on a white background.

(75% of original size)
One other thing, I wouldn’t recommend using lace that has netting as that is a bear to clean up since the netting is so thin and the background has to be cleared in each space, but if you are a glutton for punishment, then by all means, go right ahead. Of course, you can always erase the netting and draw in your own ….
Take a look at the image and find the straightest repeating section you can to work with.

The areas I chose to work with on this image are marked with arrows.

Select the Magic Wand and set the tolerance to about 50. Click in the background to select it.

Zoom in to check how close the selection is to the edge of the lace.

Decrease or increase the tolerance as needed or expand the selection by a pixel if that is all that is needed

With the background selected, choose Cut or Clear from the Edit menu. Repeat as needed to get the top and bottom background deleted.

Note: I discovered a better way to get rid of the background, see my Lace & Netting tutorial to find out how to do it.

Zoom in to the area you’ve decided to work with and select the background areas inside the lace. Select several areas at once or one at a time.

Again, adjust the tolerance or modify the selection as needed.

Cut or clear the selection(s).

Zoom in some more and check to see if you cleared all the background pieces.

Use the selection tool or eraser to get rid of any remaining.

Here’s what we have so far.

Take a quick look at the image and decide if it needs to be straightened out any. If so, do it in very small increments, checking the top/bottom of the image against the checkered background.

Also, keep an eye on the image to make sure it doesn’t start softening up you as you rotate it. You can sharpen it if needed, but after once or twice doing this, you might as well just throw the image out and start over.

Zoom in if needed and select the area you want to use as your tube image.

Notice how the selection stops on the right just before the area where we started the selection on the left.

In addition, make sure that the selection is divisible by a small number, like 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. This selection is 102 pixels wide which is evenly divisible by 2.

Copy the selection and paste as a new image (Ctrl-V).

At thisĀ  point, the image is looking good, but you can do more cleanup if you wish, just be careful about getting semi-transparent areas on the transparent areas or blurring the image too much, or even sharpening too much.

We are now ready to create our tube so choose File : Export : Picture Tube from the menu.

If you get an error message about the image needing to be 24 bit and only have one raster layer with a transparency, then choose Colors : Increase Color Depth : 16 Million Colors (24 Bit).

If you have more than one layer, choose Layers : Merge : Merge Visible from the menu.

Now you can choose File : Export : Picture Tube from the menu.

The Export Picture Tube panel will come up with the default settings. It will also show you the current image size based on 1 cell across and 1 cell down, which for our image is 102 in width and 83 in height.
Of course, we are not going to accept the default settings.

First determine how wide you want each cell to be.

I chose 2 since I’m going to be using these in small spaces, so half of 102 is 51 and that gets entered into the Cells across field.

Leave the Cells down field alone.

Under Placement options, choose Continuous Placement Mode, a Step size of 2 (this has to match the cell width you chose), and Selection mode of Incremental.

Finally, give your tube a descriptive name and click on OK.

Create a new image, say 600×600 with a black background (or white if the tube is a dark one).

Select the Picture Tube tool and choose your new tube from the palette.

Paint in a continuous line across the image, although it doesn’t have to be straight.

Check to make sure that there aren’t gaps at the edges where the first and last cell join. Open the tube in PSP and adjust if you can or even start over.

Play with the scale to get different sizes.

If you notice the image warping as you draw, you’ve gotten too small and/or drew too fast. Try slowing down.

(Lace tube is at 25%)

If you increase the step size, then the image will start skipping.

This image shows the step size at 4 and since each cell is 2 pixels, it draws a cell, skips 2 pixels, then draws the next cell, and so on.

More examples:
Now, these may not be ready for prime time, but they will certainly do well enough for most purposes. Continuous tubes can be used for lace, elastic, seams, piping, etc. Rotating may be a bit of a problem, although PSP8 seems to have greatly improved on rotation without fuzzing up the image as earlier versions do. Remember that the more complex the lace, the more work it will be making these tubes.