Tutorial #2: How to make a repeat pattern in Photoshop

how to make a repeat pattern in Photoshop

Hi everyone!

It has been a while I am thinking about showing here the process I take to make a repeat pattern, but today is the day I am finally taking the time to do it. I decided to make a floral-leafy pattern, Below you can find the steps I took to get to this result:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.29.18

1. Here are the various loose flowers I made with watercolor.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 19.57.39

2. Select one by one the drawings you want to keep with the lasso and copy them all into a new document, preferably square (mine is 5000 x 5000px). I made it huge because I always scan my drawings at 600 dpi; I can always make it smaller later.

3. Move the elements around in order to make a composition you are happy with. It doesn’t have to fill the square (you will see why in the next step).
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.09.29

4. Group all the loose elements together with CMD + G or CTRL + G.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 17.36.48

5. Duplicate the group you just made by dragging and dropping the group onto the new layer icon.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 17.43.42

6. Select one of the two groups and press CMD + E or CTRL + E or go to Layer > merge layers and make the other group invisible.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 17.45.32

7. Select the active layer and go to Filter > Other > Offset. If your layer size was like mine 5000 x 5000 px, enter 2500 and 2500 as values for horizontal and vertical.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.12.40

8. You now have a cross in the middle, that you will have to fill with other loose elements to make the pattern seamless. I don’t like to fill the square until the edges too much, because the smaller the cross you have to fill later, the more the chances you will have for the ‘seam’ to show. I hope this makes sense!!

Now, make this layer 30% opacity, and make the other group visible again, so you can differentiate which flowers are on which layer.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.13.31

9.  Now, you can organize the elements as you want to make the pattern harmonious. Watch out now not to put any element out of the square. I like this method, because you can see if you have two of the same elements next to each other.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.26.00

10. We are almost done. Now, increase the opacity of the merged layer back to 100%.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.29.18

11. To finish, you can go to Edit > Define pattern. Give it a name and save it.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.30.59
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.30.17

12. You can now try it in a new document.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 18.25.20

13. Create a new layer and fill it in white (Use the paint bucket tool (G)  or press Shift + Delete).

14. Double-click on the layer you just created to add a new layer style.Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 18.31.01

15. Click on the pattern window and you will be able to choose the new pattern you defined. By default, it shows up at 100%, so very big in my case.
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.32.26

16. You can now adjust the scale you want for your surface!Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 20.33.35

And we are all done! I hope you liked it! If you are doing it another way, or if you know some tips to do it more efficiently, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments!


13 thoughts on “Tutorial #2: How to make a repeat pattern in Photoshop

  1. Hi There,

    I was wondering what you did with your water colour motifs once you scanned them into photoshop. Did you cut around each motif to put them on separate layers (so using the lasso tool) and remove the white background etc? Did you do anything else here?
    Look forward to hearing from you, thanks Bec


    • Hi Bec! Thanks for your message. I do remove the white background in Photoshop first when I want to use a colored background (with the lasso or masking directly with a vector mask). In the case of this tutorial, I didn’t remove the white background because I wanted a white background, so every element (placed on a separate layer) has a blending mode of multiply. Don’t hesitate if you have other questions!


      • Thanks nathalie. Very helpful! I also have another question about the sizing of your watercolour motifs.
        Once you have scanned the motifs into photoshop and start moving around your motif to make a pattern, do you change the scale of your motif if you find your working too big? The resin I ask is because I began working on mine but my motif are too big for the intended surface i want the patten to go on. If I scale down my motif and view the screen at 100% is this the size my pattern will print out? Will I lose the quality of my design by doing this?
        What is the best way to go about this?
        Thanks so much, Bec


      • Hi Bec! Sorry for taking so long to answer! To answer your question, if I see I am working too big, I make my canvas bigger, then you can always scale down later (when you are in the pattern option of your layer style). For me it has been working well. To see the real size it will print out, maybe one option would be to bring an element in your layer that will bring scale, and work in centimeters (or inches, depending where you are :), so you have an idea of how big are your elements in reality… I hope this answers your question!


    • Sure! I am using Photoshop CC 2015. If you have an older version, it could be that the interface or the menus are a bit different, but you should still be able to make patterns 🙂


  2. Pingback: 7 Tutorials to Help You Embrace the Watercolor Trend - Design Roast

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