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Using patterns in Photoshop

Patterns area hidden gem in Photoshop. Here's a short tutorial showing you how to make your own and how to use them in your designs.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Table of contents

Patterns - time to make your own

If you have found the patterns available in Photoshop you probably moved on quite quickly. The library that ships with CS2 is not very inspiring. The good news is that you can make your own patterns that you can use with your own designs.

Let’s start by making a simple background that will be useful for backgrounds for websites and buttons. Open a new 3 x 3 image. Create a new layer and turn the visibility of the background off. Next select the pencil tool and a 1px width. Complete a diagonal line like below. The colour I’ve used here is #999999 but you could use anything you like.

Creating a pattern in Photoshop

To add the pattern to the library go to Edit > Define Pattern. You will need to give you pattern a name. That’s it - the pattern is in your library. You are not limited to graphics - you can use images too if you like.

Using patterns

Using patterns is limited only by your imagination but here’s a couple of examples. First let’s say we want to add a background to a website design. Here I’ve created a 200 x 200 pixel image. Select the Paint Bucket Tool (shortcut G) and then look at the options in the top left of your screen. In the second drop down from the left select Pattern and then in the next one choose the pattern you have just created.

Using Patterns

Then in your new image fill the space with your pattern.

Background fill with a pattern

You can use your pattern anywhere in Photoshop. In the example below we’ve added a gradient on top of the background pattern. You will see that the you can even use patterns in text. To do this right click on your text layer and choose blending options. Select pattern overlay and choose your pattern.

Blending options on a layer

You can quickly make some good effects with even the simplest pattern. Already using patterns? Why not share how you use yours and leave a comment.

An example using patterns

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.


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