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Is There a Growing Need for High Resolution Digital Databases of Wood Imagery?

23. July 2019 12:42

By Bill Esler, Editor, IWF Network News

Sherwin Williams Virtual Panel Studio www.virtualpanelstudio.com

As design programs grow more robust, the ability to generate realistic renderings of furnishings and projects has improved dramatically. For patterned laminates and paint colors, there is no problem matching graphics and colors in renderings - since most of these originate as digital designs prior to creating the decor laminates.

But rendering convincing versions of real solid wood and wood veneers - that's another matter.  In nature, the trees take care of creating the grain pattern for the finished work - but how do you do it digitally?

One approach and I think it's the best one, is photographing the real thing. Veneer companies have been developing controlled photographic renderings of inventory for years now - to share the look of a bundle or lot of material without buyers having to travel. Here's how  Veneer Supplies of Frederick Hill, MD describes it: 

In a lot of 20 sheets from the same bundle, the top veneer may show a bark patch and the bottom veneer may be flawless. The pictures we shown are always taken from the side of the bundle that has the most defects.....When photographing the veneers on this website, I do not use alcohol, water, or any other means of enhancing the grain or figure. I try to photograph the veneers as close to the original color as possible by shooting with white light and applying software-based color correction that is specific to our light source. 

The most widely known source for identifying wood species is www.Wood-Database.com (above) which has gradually improved and broadened the photographs it presents. It relies on woodworkers to volunteer shots of wood species with two grain directions and end grain - when available. The quality varies but is continuously on the rise.

Now there is a new and growing database of very finely resolve wood images - but this one  - Sherwin Williams Virtual Panel Studio - was established to show wood stains on various wood species. You have to be approved by Sherwin Williams to access it - and it is intended for designers, specifiers and their woodworking professionals in doing project planning. 

Sherwin Williams describes the Virtual Panel Studio is a "first of its kind online resource available exclusively for furniture, kitchen cabinet, and other wood product designers and product developers to discover, manage and share hundreds of high-resolution panel images." It is part of its Global Color Design and Design Center.

A password-protected account allows users to search, download and share the images. Request registration at oem.sherwin-williams.com/gcdc-panel-access-request


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