Recently, a forum user was asking how to change the color of a texture in Fireworks to red or blue. In particular, he/she was struggling with attempting to apply a texture to a white object, and it wasn't showing up.
The question got me thinking about textures, how they're created and how they're applied. Textures are a unique and distinctive feature of Fireworks. On the one hand, the interface for textures is very simple to use and almost magical; on the other hand, it's surprisingly limited. The concept is great, but the implementation seems only half-baked.
With this in mind, I'd like to suggest a few simple ways that textures could be made more fluid and versatile in Fireworks.
First, a little background...
WHAT IS A TEXTURE?
In the world of Fireworks, a texture is basically a type of pattern that's applied to an object. However, unlike a pattern fill, textures include transparency and integrate with the existing fill content (color, gradient or pattern). They're suggestive of textures in the real world, which are often tactile and defined visually by light and shadow.
Texture graphics are most commonly grayscale ("black and white") in GIF or PNG format. Applied within the application, the graphics are converted "on the fly" to white-on-transparency. If the Transparent option is checked, the graphic is converted into a sort of mask, making the "textured" areas invisible instead of white.
And that's about it.
So what if you'd like to apply a dark texture to a white object? Sorry, it can't be done. What if you'd like to apply a texture in color? It can't be done. What if you'd like to reverse or invert the pattern of the texture? Can't be done.
Well, in fact, these things can be done, but not directly. They require workarounds such as cloning the object and placing the clone above or beneath the original, applying textures as pattern fills (instead of as textures) and adding effects like Color Fill, Invert, and Convert to Alpha, or editing the texture file directly, saving out a new copy, etc. In short, there are unintuitive ways to accomplish these goals that lead to bloated effects lists and layers or that require extra time and care.
HOW CAN TEXTURES BE IMPROVED?
First of all, does it make any sense that textures are applied exclusively in white? Not really. In the real world, a texture can be defined not just by light but by shadow. And even shadows can have color. This means that, at minimum, it would make sense to allow for the application of a texture in black, and, at maximum, in any chosen color.
Secondly, textures are relative. They represent change to an existing surface. Sometimes, it might make sense to highlight the texture itself; other times, the surface around the texture. This means that being able to quickly reverse the figure-ground relationship of a texture would be a very handy feature.
With the above concerns in mind, I've devised three 'user interface' scenarios, presented here in order of most conservative to most extreme. The first scenario is the least powerful but still doubles the number of possible outcomes (compared to the existing interface). The second scenario may be the most logical of the bunch and represents a modest evolution of the existing interface, while increasing the number of potential outcomes even further. The third scenario allows for the application of any color to a texture but also represents the biggest change to the existing interface; that said, it's also quite compact.
Scenario 1: Invert option
The idea here is simply to add an Invert checkbox to the existing options. Checking this option would convert white to black, allowing for the application of dark textures to white or light-colored objects. In "Transparent" mode, this option would invert or reverse the figure-ground relationship of the existing texture.
Scenario 2: Dropdown menu plus Reverse option
Here, the Transparent checkbox is replaced by a dropdown menu that includes 3 mutually exclusive options: White, Black, or Transparent. Checking the "Reverse" option would invert the figure-ground relationship of the texture. This scenario allows for 6 possible outcomes in place of the existing 2, and is actually more logical than the first scenario, which conflates two options.
Scenario 3: Color picker plus Reverse option
Here, the Transparent checkbox is removed, and in its place, a color chip/palette is added to allow for the selection of any color to be applied to a texture. (Choosing Fill: None would create Transparency.) Again, a "Reverse" option would invert the figure-ground relationship of the texture. This scenario differs most from the existing interface but is quite compact and allows for the greatest number of outcomes.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I've submitted a feature request to Adobe's official site:
When it comes to bugs and/or feature requests, every vote counts. If you care about this issue, I encourage you to submit your own feature request to the above URL, referencing this post if desired. Feel free to copy and paste the feature request below or write your own. (Be aware that there is a 2,000 character limit to the "issue description" of a bug report or feature request, and the following report is very close to that maximum.)
Product name: Fireworks
Product Version: 220.127.116.11
Product language: English
*******Enhancement / FMR*********
Brief title for your desired feature: Enhanced texture controls, including the ability to apply textures in black and/or color (instead of white), and the ability to reverse or invert texture.
How would you like the feature to work? Three possible implementations have been outlined in this forum posting:
The basic scenarios are as follows:
SCENARIO 1: An additional "Invert" option. Checking this option would convert white to black, allowing for the application of dark textures to white or light-colored objects. In "Transparent" mode, this option would invert or reverse the figure-ground relationship of the existing texture. This scenario would allow for 4 options in place of the existing 2.
SCENARIO 2: Replace Transparent checkbox with a dropdown menu (White-Black-Transparent) and a "Reverse" checkbox. The dropdown menu offers 3 mutually exclusive options, while "Reverse" inverts the figure-ground relationship of the texture in each case. This scenario would allow for 6 options in place of the existing 2.
SCENARIO 3: Replace Transparent checkbox with a color chip/palette and a "Reverse" checkbox. The color palette would allow for the application of a texture in any color, while choosing Fill: None would create Transparency. This scenario would allow for the greatest number of options.
Why is this feature important to you? Textures are unique to Fireworks and potentially very useful, but their implementation is incomplete. The use of 'white only' means that textures cannot be applied to a white object. Inverting a texture or applying a texture in color requires advanced workarounds and can lead to bloat. The suggested options would make the feature exponentially more powerful and intuitive.