How to make a repeat pattern in Photoshop

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Back in my uni days, I did textile design and we learned how to make repeat patterns. My first repeat pattern was done using a screen printer with the image burnt onto the screen. It was pretty tricky to line up the repeats and you had to wait for the paint to dry before doing each repeat. Time consuming, but fun!

Using Photoshop is much easier. It’s best for graphics but I have made prints from photos. It’s a lot tricker to get the seamless look though.

I got engaged in Japan during a cherry blossom festival and I made an abstract pattern from the photos I took that day.

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I had the pattern printed onto silk. My mum then used the fabric to make my bridesmaids’ clutches for my wedding (despite doing textiles, I can’t sew!).

 
 

Here’s how to make your own repeat pattern in 10 easy steps! These instructions are for Photoshop CC.

  1. Begin by setting up a new square document. I set mine up as 2000px in width and height.

  2. You can fill the background layer with a solid colour or just keep it white. Gradients or other background patterns won’t work.

  3. Place in the elements you want for your repeat. You may want to save a .psd version of your design at this point.

  4. Then merge all layers together.

Design your layout

Design your layout

5. Next you’ll want to offset the design which basically inverts the image so the four outer corners meet in the middle. Go to Filter > Other > Offset.

Offset the design.

Offset the design.

6. Depending on your design, you may want to move the Horizontal or Vertical alignment around to a new position. This will give you an idea of how your repeat will look.
7. You can then add in some additional elements to fill in any gaps. Play with reversing some elements or making some upside down.

Tweak the offset if you need.

Tweak the offset if you need.

8. When you’re happy with your design you can save it under Edit > Define Pattern and give it a name.

Then save your design.

Then save your design.

9. Now you can test out your pattern! Open up a new document larger than your original design. Go to Edit > Fill and select Pattern from the Contents drop down. Select your design and press OK.

Find your fill!

Find your fill!

10. You may find you need to go back and adjust some placements when you see your design in full. You can open your original Photoshop file and rework it if need be. It takes a bit of practice but is super easy and fun after a few goes.

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And there you have it! Happy repeating!