How to: Creating a Super Simple Procedural Wood Texture in Filter Forge

Somehow if you’re a 3D artist, you always end up looking for wood textures. Whether you are a student or a professional or a hobbyist, you just always run into a need or want for that wood texture. You may go on Google and search up some imagery, you can always go to some texture resource website and dig some textures up. Very cool. But what about making your own?

Important note: Now I’m going to be using a program called Filter Forge 3, this is a fantastic piece of node-based fiter/generator creation program you can use to make all sorts of stuff. In this case I’ll be using it to make the wood texture I’m talking about. Though let me tell you one thing: you don’t always need Filter Forge to do this tutorial. It kinda takes skill but you can essentially do almost the same thing in programs like Adobe Photoshop with a little bit of creativity and understanding. So it’s really not just for Filter Forge users. 🙂

Another Important Note: This is a very very simple tutorial. I didn’t include specific numbers because I think you… can really just find out those numbers yourself. 😉

The Idea

Here’s the resulting texture of the wood we’re making.

The generic wood texture. Nothing special, just procedurally generated.

Alright so it’s pretty generic but we have lots of fine details, and some patterning going on. So what’s happening here? The basic idea is this: I basically have this in 3 layers which produces the effect.

Lets Break it Down Further

Alright I want this whole thing to be as basic as possible, given that some people think this is hard. No, it’s easy. Actually very very easy. So let’s begin our journey through this texture.

The first layer is just a perlin noise pattern, the second is a perlin noise pattern with a zebra-like profile, the final layer adds the thin, noisy grains. That’s our basis for the texture. The point here is that we’re using perlin noise generators to create much of the basic look of it. And by layering them, we achieve the apperance. The rest of the process is coloring the combined noise textures in a way to convey the wood feel.

Here’s how the wood texture looks without its color.

Minus color = pretty grainy surface that looks like weird drapery and all sorts of other things.

This black and white image can become several things: it can be a bump map or a map for colorization. But we’ll skip that for now and take a look at the core construction of this texture.

The first base layer looks like this a general stretched perlin noise:

The bottom most layer looks like this.

Yup. That’s the basis. Now the second layer:


There’s a bit more going on with this layer. You can see the “zebra effect” I’m talking about here clearly. The last layer looks like this:

Tiny Grains!

Alright, so those are the 3 key layers and when combined they basically give you that black and white image map you saw earlier.

Because I’m using Filter Forge, generating these kinds of noise patterns isn’t that complicated. It does take a bit more using programs such as Photoshop though and I encourage you to experiment methods in creating those noise patterns you see above. I figure though, I’ll also make another experimental / tutorial post on how you can make those textures right in Photoshop without 3rd-party-plugins in the near future.

In Filter Forge the node structure would look like this:

Filter Forge components here...

Not that hard right? Alright, we can do a little bit of optimization here. Since I know that I can control the profile of the perlin noise patch, I can feed a curve to simulate the threshold node, hence removing 1 step of the process.

Minus one component.

It’s really up to you on if you want to do it either way. But of course, the more optimized the faster your filter will run. Pretty simple.

Coloring the texture is super simple. It it only takes 2 components: the profile gradient and elevation gradient.

Really really really simple.

And that’s really all there is to this texture! I tried to keep this tutorial as simple as possible giving you the really basic idea of how you’d go about producing the look you desire. Of course, if you want more details, you can add more grain, you can add more roughness via the perlin noise components, but ultimately what it comes down to is the layering and breaking it down into those core components. Once you define the basics, you can then move on to create elaborate, detailed textures you want.

Here’s what my wood generator looks like with all the rest of the components and controls.

Makes wood.

Sure it’s a little more involved but most of it is just a chain of alternative styles and looks just so I have a bit more control over my end result. You may be looking at this and going “that’s … complex” but really the basic idea hasn’t really changed and the additional chain of components you see get switched on or off by a switch component.

So there you go. A very elementary tutorial / introduction on how you can produce the wood texture from absolutely nothing. 🙂 By the way, because Filter Forge can make this texture seamless so this can become a nice tiling texture for your 3D scene or object.

If you have any questions or commentary just write as a reply. I’ll try to respond to them and also I may follow up with another post too.


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