Stone Designer Tutorial
The inspiration for our Stone Designer came from talking to architects who told us they need not just realistic, but real stone material textures to use in their CAD renderings. Unlike any other stone rendering tool, Stone Designer creates CAD material textures of actual stone; stone that can be ordered and shipped to your job site. The stone is real. The colors are real. The surfaces are real.
The user interface consists of a side menu and an image background. The dotted rectangle in the image is the area that will be download for use in presentations and CAD renderings.
The menu is organized into the following sections:
GENERAL SETTINGS – Click the gear icon in the upper right to view general settings.
TEXTURE | 3D | SCENE – Allows you to control what is being displayed
PATTERN – The pattern section allows you to select a geometric stone design pattern.
MATERIAL – The material section allows you to select a stone material to “paint” the stone design pattern with.
JOINTS – The joints section allows you to specify the look of the areas between the stone pieces.
DOWNLOAD – This button allows you to download the painted design pattern (“material texture”) for use in presentations and CAD renderings.
Click the gear icon in the upper right to view Stone Designer settings. From here you can control:
Units – Millimeters or inches
User Interface – How the material texture is displayed.
Scaling – We recommend that you “scale materials to meet tile dimensions”.
Texture|3D|Scene buttons at the top allow you to control how the stone is displayed.
Texture – 2D image of the material texture.
3D – Displays the material texture in 3D detail.
Scene – Displays the material texture in an architectural scene.
The pattern section dropdown allows you to select a geometric stone design pattern from our library. Over 80 patterns are available for paver, veneer and wallstone applications.
The patterns are organized by the following categories:
Cobblestone – Patterns applicable to cobblestones. These are organized by the shape of the cobblestone (rectangular vs. cube), the side facing upwards if rectangular (narrow side vs. wide side), and the arrangement and orientation of the cobblestone pieces (grid, random, running bond, herringbone, fan).
Fieldstone – Patterns applicable to natural stone shapes. Fieldstone patterns are generally irregular in shape and have natural edges. Fieldstone patterns are used in wallstone applications.
Flagging – Patterns applicable to irregular stone shapes used in paver applications. Flagging patterns can be applied to fieldstone as well as quarry produced stone (generally split into irregular shapes).
Rough-Edge – Patterns applicable to stone shapes produced by “snapping” or “splitting”. These come in a variety of shapes, but all have irregular edges. Quarried-Snapped patterns are used in paver and veneer applications where they differ in scale and joint material.
Rounds – Patterns applicable to “roundish” stone shapes used in paver and veneer applications. We provide “large”, “medium” and “small” scale rounds patterns to account for the differing size mixes.
Sawn-Edge – Patterns applicable to rectangular stone shapes (squares, rectangles, planks). Dimensional patterns can be made up of stone cut to specific sizes or random sizes. Dimensional patterns are generally used for sawn stone but can be applied to most rectangular shapes with relatively straight edges. Because of the relatively straight edges, joints can be very tight. Dimensional patterns are used in paver and veneer applications where they differ in scale.
Rows / Columns – These numeric values are used to control the overall number of stone pieces contained in the downloaded area (as indicated by the dotted line boundary). If a design pattern is a perfect grid layout, then the number of rows/columns would correspond exactly to the grid. But since the vast majority of patterns are non-grid then these numbers are approximations. Also, note that since all the design patterns are “seamless” the rows/columns settings can only be adjusted in certain intervals (usually increments of 3 or 4).
TIP: Use a the “rotate” button next the pattern selection to rotate the pattern in intervals of 90 degrees.
The material section allows you to select a stone material to “paint” the stone design pattern with. The selection list is organized by stone species, including Limestone, Bluestone, Granite, Basal, etc. We have also broken out Cobblestones and Thin Veneer to make these specialty materials easy to find.
The name of each stone material includes an “M###” or “P###” number that references the material to its corresponding website page. To view the page enter this code in the Search box at the top right of any website page.
The material selection section includes the following additional controls:
Max Width – The width of the widest stone shape in the selected pattern as measured horizontally on your screen. The height will be scaled proportionally to the width based on how the pattern was drawn. The size of all other stone shapes will be scaled proportionally. This value is used to properly scale the selected material image onto the pattern, and to calculate the overall size of the downloaded material texture.
The “Max Width” setting is for the widest stone pieces in the pattern and always measures horizontally on your screen.
Width / Height – In certain patterns it is possible to independently control the width and height of the “reference piece” (usually the largest piece). These patterns are designated “Adjustable Widths and Heights”. The size of all other stone shapes will be scaled proportionally. This value is used to properly scale the selected material image onto the pattern, and to calculate the overall size of the downloaded material texture. This “Adjustable Widths and Heights” feature is particularly useful with dimensional patterns where stone is cut to precise sizes.
From left to right: adjustable Width=12” Height=12”, adjustable Width=17.5” Height=11.5”.
Edges – For certain materials textures, it’s possible to experiment with different edge styles. This works best if you start with a pattern that has swan edges.
Surface – For certain material textures, it’s possible to experiment with different stone surfaces. This feature works best if you start with a material that has a flat looking surface. Click here to learn more about stone surfaces and finishes.
Light Intensity – Use to adjust the light intensity applied to the material’s surface and used to cast shadow on recessed joints.
Adjustments – Use to adjust brightness, contract, hue and saturation of the material images.
TIP: Use a the “rotate” button next the material selection to rotate the material in intervals of 45 degrees. This is very useful for controlling the direction of stone “grain” or “movement”.
TIP: Use the “repaint button” (asterisk above the rotate button) to try differing random applications of the selected material atop the selected pattern. Each “repaint” will produce a different look. Then download the result that looks best to you
Add Another Material
Stone Designer allows you to use multiple materials in the same pattern to create truly unique designs. To start click the “Add Another Material” button.
There are three ways to control the placement of the additional material: Random , Defined and Manual.
Random Placement – As the word implies, the added material is place randomly atop the previous material. The “Frequency” control allows you to control the percentage, but not the placement.
Defined Placement – When placement is set to Defined, the position is controlled by rules based on Hit and Miss values that create a repetitive sequence. The Hit value sets how many consecutive tiles will match this style on the row or column, while the Miss value controls the gap (i.e., how many consecutive tiles will not match this style).
The Hit and Miss sequence repeats across the entire length of the row and column. This makes Defined placement a useful alternative to Manual placement for repetitive positioning as the rules are followed when the total number of rows and columns changes.
The starting position for the rule can be changed by using the shift parameter.
The diagram illustrates some basic Hit and Miss sequences for a simple, 8 x 8, square stack pattern. For complex patterns it may be difficult to interpret the rows and columns and therefore using manual placement may be more appropriate in these cases.
Manual Placement – Allows you to manually select specific pieces of stone for the added material. To use this feature first click the “Select” button. The stone pieces in the dotted rectangle will turn blue. Then simply click on the stone pieces to add the material. Click again to undo.
You can use the “Add Another Material” function multiple times. In this example we have created a mix of four different Limestones to create a unique look.
The joints section allows you to select what material is used to fill the space between stone pieces (mortar, earth, grass, etc.).
The joints selection section includes the following additional controls:
Tint – Applies a uniform tint to the selected joint material.
Horizontal/Vertical Spacing – This setting allows you to modify the joint spacing. In general, dimensional patterns provide the most control over joint spacing. Because of the way other patterns were drawn, they may not allow tight joints, and the numeric values, while useful for making larger and smaller, might not reflect the actual joint spacing in inches. This is a (current) limitation of Stone Designer, but not that of a skilled mason.
Recess Joints – Checking this box will apply a recessed look to the joints.
Opacity – Controls the shadow effect used to make the joints look recessed.
The download function creates CAD resources. In all cases these are for the rectangular area contained by the dotted line. The resulting rectangular area is seamless, meaning it can be applied repeatedly over a large area with minimal tiling effects.
You can control how many stone pieces are contained inside the downloadable areas (dotted rectangle) by adjusting the rows/ columns settings.
TIP: The lower the rows/columns the higher the resolution of the stone pieces. Conversely, the higher the rows/columns the lower the resolution of the stone pieces. Keep this in mind when creating material textures for CAD rendering applications.
TIP: Use a higher number of rows/columns if the download material texture contains too much repetition (tiling). This will come at a cost of resolution of the stone pieces but may still be advantageous for a better rendering.
There are numerous CAD resources available for download.
The ‘Texture’ is a JPG file that contains an image of the material texture. Some CAD rendering systems refer to these as color maps. This is the most common resource that is download since it can also be used in client presentations.
The other CAD resources may or may not be of interest to you depending on your particular CAD and rendering software.
Above is the downloaded JPG texture map. Note that the width x height size information is contained in the file name. This is critical for scaling the material texture correctly in your CAD rendering. Because of the way that joints work in some of our irregular patterns, we suggest that you use the width value only and lock the aspect ratio to obtain the height.
3D View tab at the top allows you to view the material texture in 3D detail. Use your mouse, touch pad or touch screen to control the zoom and rotation.
3D View is very useful for comparing different joint style and edge options. The background image below shows a fine edge. The foreground image shows a simulated “handmade” edge.
3D View is also very useful for comparing different surface options. The background image below shows a flat surface. The foreground image shows a simulated “bush hammered” surface and simulated “handmade” edges.
Scene View allows you to see the material texture applied to an architectural surface. This is particularly useful for comparing the “scale” of different stone materials.
Scenes are available for different application (wall veneer, driveway, patios and pool decks). We are adding new scenes on a regular basis.
You can continue to use all the user interface functions while in Scene View to make adjustments to the material texture. This is a good place to experiment with stone size and joints.
Note that if you use the”Download” function while in Scene View, only the rendered image will be downloaded (no user interface). This is useful when you see a rendering result that you wish to share with a client or colleague.