Now that I am no longer feeling compelled to keep my "trade secrets" in the men's underwear biz, I'd like to share my process on making plaids in Adobe Photoshop. I am sure others have a similar process or template, but this is the way I've been doing it for nearly 10 years, and it hasn't failed me yet. I've cranked out waaaaaaaaaaaay more plaids than I care to remember. This said, they don't call me the "Plaid Queen" for nothing. I don't really care for the title, though.
Download this .psd template for a plain weave plaid (v. CS2- and a warning, it's a whopping 7MB file!). In my work, we do fabric constructions around the 90x100- 21 singles range, so this is aimed to look like a plain weave that simulates the tightness of this construction. I have other templates, but for this tutorial's purpose, I want to give you a general understanding and from here, many of you may be able to generate other templates, including a twill weave, dobbies, etc. One thing I haven't been able (nor did I have to) figure out was satin weaves. This is a basic approach, so don't expect perfection! I have always worked in 200 dpi. Just have. I also work in CMYK. Just do. I also apologize in advance for anyone I may lose along the way. I am going to assume you will have a good amount of experience with Photoshop, so I won't be showing you all the finer details on how to use the program itself. Maybe I'll save that for my book!
So here's what you do.
Open the .psd template file. Then open a New 200 dpi canvas. The canvas itself doesn't need to be very big. To start, make it about 1 inch high x 5 inches wide. You are now going to make the repeat for the warp yarns- this only needs to be the full repeat- nothing more. I do not worry about color until the end of the process, so for now, as you are working, just designate color positions, you can correct them later.
Using your Rectangular Marquee tool (*do not have any feathering, make sure anti-aliased is UNchecked and is set to normal.) and starting at the left most edge, "draw" your first band of color by creating a rectangle the width of the band and using your Paint Bucket tool, fill it in with your first choice of color with no space in between. Continue to create bands of colors across the canvas until you have your full repeat.
Once repeat is complete, Using the Rectangular Marquee again, Select that entire repeat from edge to edge- and the repeat only- whatever is selected is going to be part of the pattern. Crop the canvas (as shown above). Then Define Pattern.
Go to the Template. Using your Magic Wand tool (*with tolerance at 0 and anti-aliased and contiguous both UNchecked.) select the pale magenta color position in the top edge. Then go to Fill and select the pattern you just defined. Neat, huh?
Now, you have to make your weft repeat. Go back to your warp repeat and while it is still selected, rotate the canvas 90 degrees (doesn't matter which way, unless you have a preference). Define Pattern.
Go back to the template, using the Magic Wand now select the pale cyan color position and Fill it in with that repeat pattern. Voila!
Another great way to create plaids, rather than just winging it with various bands of color, is by scanning in an actual plaid fabric and making the repeat right over the top of it with solid bands of color the thickness of those you see (remember to scan the plaids at 200 dpi and convert to CMYK before doing any work).
Also try making a new repeat altogether for the weft yarns, so the plaid isn't so balanced.