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Creative Impulse 2000 is a program that approaches quilt design from a new angle. Check out Birte Hilberg's article (the program developer) on operations and new features found in the latest release!

Expressive Quilters' Newsletter
Supporting The Expressive Quilter In Tradition, Innovation, Art & Computer Quilting


Article Revised: October 2000
Editor: Sharla Hicks
Newsletter index for all issuesgTable of Contents for this issue

Creative Impulse 2000

Software NO longer available

by Birte Hilberg, the program developer
To better understand how Creative Impulse 2000 works it is useful to know the basic principles of the program. Before you start using the program it is recommended that you read the README.txt file and print the WELCOME.doc file or read the "Before you begin" section in the Help file. The Help file not only includes all information to run the program, it also contains plenty of useful illustrations.


Kaliedoscope design using a photograph embedded image


Bitmap Embedded Design using a photograph by BIrte Hilbert

Ripple Effect added to quilt

Hexagon Effect added to quilt

The 220 tiles distributed with Creative Impulse 2000 give you a good foundation for creating designs, but you can easily extend the tile library by making new tiles yourself. All drawing is done on the "drawing board" and you only need to draw one copy of each tile. While you are drawing new tiles or making alterations to old ones, full designs made from these tiles are shown in a design window in the background and you can see all versions of the tile you draw in the "Show all active tiles" window.

Creative Impulse 2000 automatically rotates each tile you draw first 90, then 180 and 270 degrees to create four versions of it. The program then mirrors the tile you drew and rotates this mirrored tile 90, 180 and 270 degrees to get a total of eight versions. The eight versions are stored as one tile.

Rotation variations of the tile


For drawing tiles you can use one or a combination of the following tools:
  • You can draw Straight lines, Circles or Arcs of Circles and freehand drawing.
  • You can use the Bezier tool to draw straight lines allowing you to move or bend lines or for swapping hatching (colours). Note all tiles that come with the program have been drawn with the Bezier tool.
  • For precise drawing choose a grid.
  • For colouring your tile a palette of 16 colours is at hand in a choice of solid colours or hatchings, the colours can easily be changed later.
  • When you have finished making a new tile in one or more colour variants you save the tile and it is added to the tile library.


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When you are happy with your new tile and you have saved it, you can close the drawing board and begin to explore the potential of the new tile by creating designs. Click the New Design command: and a new design is shown. You can click as many times you want or you can choose the Automatic method (File|Other design commands|Automatic designs), which means that the program will create a new pattern every five seconds. When you see a pattern you like, you can simply click the mouse once to stop seeing new patterns and you can then save the design to have it added to the design library. To see the designs in the design library as mini designs click Show all designs .


The following illustrates how the computer would create a design from one tile in one colour combination using the eight versions and the Mirror 2x2 method that is default setting when creating new tiles. The many other design methods work in a similar way.

Think of it like this:

    • The computer puts the 8 tiles into a hat.

    • The computer picks 4 of these tiles out of the hat at random (note that each tile can be picked out of the hat more than once).

    • The computer places copies of the 4 picked tiles in a setting of 2 by 2 tiles in the top-left corner of the window. Figure 1.

    • The computer mirrors the tiles along the vertical and horizontal sides forming a 4 by 4 block. Figure 2.

    • The program repeats this, filling up the window with as many blocks as will fit. Figure 3.

figure 1

 figure 2

Figure 1

Figure 2

figure 3

Figure 3

Note that the designs above are shown without tile outlines, you can remove and add tile outlines as often you like, using this icon .

    • Each time you click on Make design make design icon this process is repeated.
You can put more tiles ‘into your hat’ by adding colour variations to your tile. Each colour variation gives you a new set of 8 tiles. You can also read more tiles into the window. So instead of choosing 4 tiles amongst the 8 tiles you could have a choice between 16, 24, 32 or more tiles.

Making beautiful designs like this may seem a bit like winning the lottery, but if you study your design and decide that you want to replace a tile with another tile you need not go on clicking for ever until the program hits the jackpot. Instead, you can use the Edit command, which contains options for:

  • Swapping one tile in a design at a time. (An easier way for swapping tiles is to use the "Show all active tiles" command Show all icons. This command can also be used for building designs from scratch.)
  • Shifting rows and columns.
  • Resizing the tiles, the squares can be turned into rectangles.
  • Cutting away parts of a pattern and moving a pattern.
The Method command contains a large selection of design methods, which you can select at any time. If you for instance click on Rotate 2x2 the way the program makes patterns is changed. Four tiles are picked at random and placed in the top-left corner in a 2 by 2 block and are then repeated in a rotating manner (not mirrored as before).

A Method such as Repeat 1x1 picks just one tile out of the hat, places it in the top-left corner and repeats it. You can also have all tiles in a design picked at random, amongst other options.


Colours are the most important ingredients in any design. If the colours are "wrong" in an otherwise perfect design you won't want to use the design for anything. Creative Impulse 2000 can help you find the right colours - either by "suggesting" new colour combinations or by letting you choose the individual colours yourself. (The colours that you choose, when you colour your new tile needn't necessarily suit each other, they are simply used to decide which pieces in the tile shall have the same colour.)

The Colour commands give you options for changing one colour at a time or changing them all at the same time.

Click on Make new colours and all the colours in your design are changed into new randomly picked colours. You can keep clicking on this button until you find a colour combination you like.

Clicking on Make 1 new colour allows you to randomly change just one colour of your choice.

Finding the ‘right’ set of colours using these two commands may sound somewhat long-winded, but seeing designs in many colour combinations is extremely useful for discovering new features within the design. You might even be tempted to use colour combinations you never thought you would!

If you know which colours you want, you can quickly make them using the Colour mixer. The Colour mixer works by letting you blend the three primary colours - red, green and blue. The Colour mixer also comes with a palette. You can interactively change colours one at a time - instantly seeing your pattern with the new colours.


The Effect command gives you access to a large number of special effects for "distorting" your designs. These are very simple to use and include effects such as: zigzag, waves, ripples, parabola, flagstone designs, kaleidoscope and circle. The Effect command also includes the Import bmp file command that allows you to use bitmap files in designs. When you choose an effect, you can customize how it operates. For example, you can choose how many sides your kaleidoscope has or the period and amplitude of the zigzag effect. You can add up to fifty Effects to any design in any order you choose - this can produce some truly amazing designs. The Set effects area command changes all other Effects commands to work within a rectangular area of your choice in any design.

If you regret an Effect you just click the Undo button or you can delete any effect in the Show design information window . (The Show design information is a tool of great value, as it reveals exactly how every single design was created.)

In Setup|Open configuration|Birte.cci you will find 400 designs that were all created using one or more Effect commands.

Birte's Gallery shows a handful of wall hangings that she created with the Effects commands at: Click the back button in the browser to return to this page.

Making a design with effects - step by step:

To show just how easy it is to create exciting patterns with Creative Impulse 2000, we will now illustrate how quickly a simple pattern can be miraculously changed using the Effect command.

  1. Read/open a tile (for example the one called "").
  2. Choose a tile size of say, 144 by 144 pixels.
  3. Click the Make design icon: make design icon the program will make a new pattern (for example it might look like the one in figure 4).
  4. Add the Cubic effect (this makes your pattern look like figure 5).
  5. Then apply the Circle effect (figure 6).

You will now have a very interesting design, but there are plenty more options available. For example you can just click the Make design icon: and Creative Impulse 2000 will make a new design, automatically applying the effects you chose to the design.

Whenever you create a design that you like Save it: The files are very small (about 1k each), so you needn’t worry about filling up your hard disk.

Other options include:

    • Changing the size of the tiles (figures 7 and 8)

    • Changing the design method.

    • Changing the colours or adding bitmap files.

    • Reading more tiles into the window.

    • Add or remove effects.

Swapping the tiles with new tiles. To do that:

    • Click on Clear , the text in the title bar says Untitled (Effect) indicating that the Effects are still active.

    • Open the Show all tile window and select new tiles.
    • Click Make design make design icon.
To illustrate another aspect of Creative Impulse 2000, we have chosen to apply the Circle effect before applying the Cubic effect. This produces a totally different pattern, as seen in figure 9. Of course there is no reason not to apply the Cubic effect both before and after applying the Circle effect! Experimentation is the key to finding new and exciting designs - and don't forget that if you regret applying an effect, you can simply choose to undo it or if you regret some of the earlier effects you can delete them in the Show design information window .

Figure 4 (click image for larger size)
Basic design
Tile size 144x144 pixels

Figure 5
Effect: Cubic applied to Figure 4
Tile size 144x144 pixels

Figure 6
Circle Effect applied to Figure 5
Tile Size 144x144 pixels

Figure 7
The tile size in Figure 6 was changed to 144x48 pixels


Figure 8
The tile size in Figure 6 was changed to 144x288 pixels

Figure 9
The Circle effect was applied to Figure 4 before the Cubic Effect!

Creative Impulse 2000 has far more Effect commands than we have mentioned so far. Three of the most useful commands are Move up, Mirror and Repeat. With these you could, for example, choose to move the pattern in, say figure 6 up to the top left of the screen and then repeat or mirror it across the entire screen.


The Show all bitmap files shows 175 small 256 colour bitmap files. You can extend the bitmap library by scanning your own images and save them as bitmap files or you can import any bitmap file in any number of colour.

The Effect command contains three options for adding bitmap files to designs. You can choose to work with just one of them or you can mix them.

Bitmap files can be embedded anywhere you want in your design or as in the example below into an empty large window.

Original bitmap embedded in the top left corner of the window.

The bitmap was then mirrored filling up the entire window.

The Kaleidoscope effect was used to create this design that can be used for original postcards.


Bitmap files can replace colours.

Original design.

The white colour was replaced with a bitmap file that was a picture of a tomato!

Bitmap files can also be inserted into a chosen area.

Elaborate Effect Commands

Some of the more elaborate Effect commands involve two or more designs. You can Capture a design (effectively storing it on the computer's memory), open another design and then try one of the following options:

  • Overlay: this command works by putting a semitransparent copy of one design on top of the other.
  • Border: this command adds a border to the design you captured.
  • Merge: This creates a sort of chessboard effect from two patterns.
  • Cut: This lets you literally cut holes in the last read design, so that the one you captured shows through. (Note this command also works when only one design is active). There are plenty of examples to be found in the Help file.
  • Of course: Creative Impulse 2000 lets you combine all of these Effect commands together in any order you choose.


Printing Creative Impulse 2000 has a very powerful printing engine, the most important feature of which is the ability to print any design in any size - if you choose a size that won't fit on a sheet of paper, the program will simply spread the output over many sheets.

Birte Hilberg.

Designer of PC-Patch (1994) and Creative Impulse (1996, 2000).

Author of The Patchwork Planner. David and Charles publishers 1993.

For additional information about Creative Impulse go to the following resources:

Download your trial copy good for 30 days

Creative Impulse Review
by Sharla Hicks

Creative Impulse 2000 (about program operations and magic!)
by Birte Hilberg, the program developer

By Claudia Wade includes working with Creative Impulse


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