Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
With lots of tips and tricks on how to improve your Photoshop skills, an easy place to start that can have some really impressive results is creating your own Photoshop patterns.
There are several different Photoshop tools you can use to create seamless patterns, whether starting from scratch with a blank canvas, or with an icon you’ve found online. By creating your own patterns, you can create custom pattern paper or your own wallpaper, and take your designs to the next level.
How to Create Patterns With the Pencil Tool
The first step is to create a new, small Photoshop document. A square image around 8 to 10 pixels wide is a good place to start. When creating your document, make sure you select ‘transparent’ for the background contents. This will ensure that you can use your pattern on any color background once it’s finished.
Select the color you want to use for your pattern, and then select the Pencil tool (keyboard shortcut: B).
You’ll want to set the Pencil size to around 1 to 2 pixels.
It’s also useful to turn your grid on by going to View > Show > Grid. Depending on your grid settings, it might not show up. To adjust your grid settings go to, Preferences > Guides, Grids, and Slices. Under Grid, make sure Gridline is set to pixels. Choose a gridline that will appear ever 1 pixel with 10 subdivisions. (Keyboard shortcut for preferences is Cmd/Ctrl + K).
This is what you’ll end up with:
(If you can’t see the Grid use the shortcut Ctrl/Cmd + ‘ or go to View > Show > Grid.)
When you zoom in anywhere from 1,600 to 3,200%, you can view the individual pixels as you start to use the pencil. You can then draw your pattern into that small square. (If you prefer, you can fill in that tiny little canvas any way you want – you don’t have to use the Pencil. It just happens to be an easy way to fill in pixels very precisely.)
Once you’re done with that, go to Edit > Define Pattern. A window will open up where you can name the pattern and it will be saved to your Patterns Library.
You can then access this, and any other patterns you have in Photoshop, by going to the Paint Bucket Tool. (Keyboard shortcut: G)
In the tool options menu for Paint Bucket, make sure you have Pattern rather than Foreground selected.
Right next to that, you can select the pattern you want to use. Create your new document, whatever size you want the pattern to take up, and click the bucket icon on the canvas. You will find your pattern has been tiled across the page.
How to Create Patterns with Shape Tool
You use the same method listed above to create a pattern using the shape tools in Photoshop. So let’s say you want to create a polka-dot pattern. You’ll create a new document the same way as if you were using the Pencil tool, but will make it slightly bigger. Create a new document that is 50 by 50 pixels with a transparent background.
Rather than create a grid, you can use the Guide Lines to ensure that you place the first ellipse in the center of the document. Go to View > New Guide. Select Horizontal for the orientation and enter 50% for the position. Repeat the same step with the orientation selected as Vertical.
You should see two blue grid lines dividing the document.
Select the Ellipse tool (or the shape of your choice) and hover over the center of the document where the gridlines meet.
Click anywhere on the document to create a circle that is 20 pixels by 20 pixels, and make sure that From Center is checked so that the circle is created in the center of the document.
Duplicate that layer by right-clicking the layer and selecting, duplicate layer. The next step is to go to Filter > Other > Offset. The settings here should be +25 for the horizontal and +25 for the vertical option. (Photoshop may prompt you to rasterize or convert the image to a smart object, in which case you should rasterize it.)
The next step is to go to Filter > Other > Offset. The settings here should be +25 for the horizontal and +25 for the vertical option. Also, make sure Wrap Around is selected (depending on the shape you use, the offset tends to be half of the canvas size).
The offset divides the circle into four quarters that will appear at the edge of the document.
This is necessary in order to make this seamless pattern:
You could alternatively just use the one circle for the entire pattern, but you will end up with this pattern instead:
You can repeat this method with more complex shapes, like an arrow, for example, using similar settings as above, with the following icon, which I downloaded from Vecteezy. I used a slightly larger document – 100 pixels by 100 pixels, and changed the offset to +50 on both the vertical and horizontal.
This will get you the following pattern:
With some brushes, the above method will also work with your Photoshop brushes.
Now that you have the basics for creating patterns in Photoshop, you can try more complex shapes and patterns. Watch the video below for how to create a much more intricate, seamless pattern:
And while there are quite a few things that Photoshop can do that GIMP can’t, this isn’t one of them. This method should be transferrable. Watch this video below to see how it works in GIMP:
How to Delete or Rename Patterns
To delete a pattern, go to the Paint Bucket tool, make sure you have Pattern selected from the drop-down menu. When you open up your patterns, by right-clicking on any given pattern, you can rename or delete it.
If you aren’t comfortable using Photoshop, there is an extremely easy way you can create patterns from photos, icons, and more using nothing more than your iOS or Android phone or tablet. The app, Adobe Capture CC, which you can download for free, makes it possible to create an intricate pattern in minutes.
While Adobe Capture is a free download, you will have to sign up for a free Adobe Creative Cloud account. You can then take a photo with your device, or import an image you found online and create a pattern using it. If you have an iPad Pro, you could even draw an image to use as a pattern yourself. You can see it in action in the Instagram video below:
Planner Time! (You can see all my planner videos at #gracecalliplanning) Today I am experimenting with what I call "title inserts". They are kind of like second tier dividers ? I drew quick food doodles on Procreate with my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil with a decal from @slickwraps . Then I transferred the file to Adobe Capture and made it into a pattern. Then I printed the final product with my Canon MX 3650, placed it inside my Kikki.k planner, and wrote on it with a Tombow brush pen ? Next up, a Meal Planner ???
The really great thing about Adobe Capture CC is you can create different kinds of patterns with a click of the button: including triangles, hexagons, and squares.
To get a full sense of what you can do with Adobe Capture CC, watch the video below:
How do you create seamless patterns in Photoshop? Let us know in the comments.