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How to Use Photoshop for Creating Patterns

If you create your digital patterns, chances are you’re using Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, or something along those lines. These programs have some “pattern makers,” and they all work more or less the same way. However, different programs will limit your options in different ways — for instance, Illustrator won’t allow gradients. 

Therefore, as far as creating digital patterns is concerned, Photoshop is the most advanced program. It has a myriad of features, including some truly incredible tools. Once you find out what’s possible, it can help when you want to create more complex patterns.

This article will provide you with a guide to help you learn how to use Photoshop for creating digital patterns — no matter whether you’re just starting out or already have experience with design software.

What are Patterns in Photoshop

A pattern is an image that is tiled or repeated when used to fill a layer or selection. By eliminating the need to develop intricate objects that could otherwise be created using a repetitive image template or free vector icons , patterns can help you speed up your design process. For instance, if your image needs to have a background filled with green circles, a pattern reduces this task to a mouse click. 

There are three ways to integrate patterns in photoshop. 

  • By making your own custom patterns from line art, free vector icons or photos 
  • By using the Photoshop preset patterns
  • By downloading and installing pattern libraries 

Pattern Maker in Photoshop

There is also a pattern maker in Photoshop that can be very helpful in creating patterns. The Tiled Pattern Maker is a Photoshop plug-in that allows you to make patterns out of all free vector icons, flat images and photos. It has a large array of adjustable parameters to help control the pattern you create, allowing for just about any design you could imagine.

This plug-in will allow you to load an image or photo as well as adjust the number of tiles and tile patterns on your design until you get what you want. You can next save your creation as a pattern or name it so that it can be easily recalled later on.

How to Make an Image a Pattern in Photoshop

Creating a pattern out of any image is one of the simplest things you can do in Photoshop. All it takes is selecting the area you want and going to Edit > Define Pattern. Your new pattern will be saved as an editable brush, ready to use in the next project. 

You’ll find the Define Pattern option at the bottom of your Layers panel, right after changing its name. You can even use the shortcut key combination, Ctrl + Shift + B (Mac: ⌘ + Shift + B).

To add a pattern, you’ll need to select the area of your image you want to use and then go to Edit > Define Pattern > Pattern Brush. You’ll see a pop-up menu with two options: Free Hand and From Selection. 

When you choose the Free Hand option, you’ll have to select the area of your image that you wish to use as the source. You can use one of these options:

  1. Pick any area of your image using a standard eyedropper tool by clicking on it.
  1. Select an area with the Magic Wand Tool (W).
  1. Use the rectangle marquee to select the desired area.
  1. Then choose one of your layers (A), use the Move Tool (V) to reposition it, and click on it again with a standard eyedropper tool to fill in the selection.
  1. You can move the layer with the Move Tool (V) and then use the Move Tool (V) again to place it on a copy layer.

After you’ve done that, your area is selected. Now, go to the Layers panel to click on the Create New Fill Or Adjustment Layer icon from its layers section. 

You’ll see a pop-up menu from where you can choose whether your new fill or adjustment layer will be filled with color or pattern; then, choose Photoshop Pattern from the menu. 

Tips for Creating Patterns in Photoshop

Below are some proven tips for creating amazing patterns in photoshop. 

  1. Take your time creating your design, and don’t rush. Be sure to consider where you want each piece of your pattern to go in relation to each other.
  1. If you would like a different type of texture or color on the layer you are working on, simply select it and change the opacity of this layer using the Opacity box in your layers panel on the left side of your screen.
  1. If you would like a certain section of your design to pop out more than another, then simply bump up this portion’s opacity and lower the other areas’ opacity.
  1. If you’d like to add another background color behind your pieces of text, simply select each piece and make sure that layer is selected before hiding the background. You can do this by clicking on the eye icon in front of each layer in your layers panel.
  1. To change the background color around your texts or other shapes, simply select the piece you would like to change and use the paint bucket tool to fill it in with the color of your choice.

Wrapping Up

Designing your patterns can save you a lot of time, allowing you to focus on other tasks. They can also be very helpful in the long term since you can save them as brushes and reuse them each time you create a new design. 

Creating patterns in Photoshop is pretty straightforward, but they are very versatile and allow you to do even more than fill a layer with color or texture. For instance, if you want to add effects to only certain parts of an image or free vector icons, using a pattern helps. After learning how to use it, you might want to consider making a pattern library so that other designers can use it.

Until next time, happy creating!

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