Rachel Roe Art + Design


A glimpse into the life of an artist + designer creating from her backyard art studio. Rachel shares behind the scenes pics, instructional insight and doses of inspiration to make your heart beat a little faster. 

How to Create a Repeat Pattern in Photoshop

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been pattern obsessed lately. I wanted to share my step-by-step process and explain how to create a repeat pattern in Photoshop. There are many options when it comes to creating patterns, but this is my method.

Step 1 • Conceptualize + Sketch

Think of the main elements you want featured in your pattern as well as the secondary, coordinating graphics. These extraneous graphics will help fill in the spaces to create a seamless pattern.

Step 2 • Digitize

Whether you're scanning in your sketch or creating in Photoshop, make sure you do so at 300dpi, at least. I digitized my sketch in Procreate, an app on my iPad Pro.

Step 3 • Open in Photoshop

Create a square artboard. I created mine at 5000 x 5000 pixels. It's always easier to scale down than up, especially if the image is rasterized.

Step 4 • Create Pattern Layout

Begin to place the graphics, adjust colors and add any background or textures.

This step explains why a square artboard is required. For every graphic that crosses the edge of the artboard, it must be duplicated on the opposite edge.

In this instance, the maroon hummingbird's left wing extends over the left edge. To make sure it lines up when we create our pattern, we must place the missing part of the wing on the opposite edge. To do this:

  • Select the graphic (⌘ + T)
  • Move the graphic along the X axis the length of the artboard. Since my artboard is 5000 x 5000 px and the hummingbird is currently at 1321 px I will simply add 1321 + 5000 = 6321 px. Enter that sum (6321) into your X reference point (top left of screen) and place duplicated graphic.
    • Tip: If you're moving the graphic right or down, add. If you're moving the graphic left or up, subtract.
  • Continue this process for all graphics that cross over an edge of the artboard.
    • Tip: If a graphic crosses two edges, make sure to duplicate it twice. (Along the X and Y axis)

Step 5 • Test your Repeat Pattern

Time to test your pattern!

Drag the rectangular marquee tool (M) over the entire artboard then select the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Change the drop-down menu option from Foreground to Pattern.

Open a new document (⌘ + N), at least twice the size of your original document, and paint the background with your new pattern. Now is the time to analyze and fix any awkward spaces or spots that aren't flowing well. This may take a few rounds of tweaks.

Step 6 • Mock it Up

It's fun to see your final pattern in action and the range of products you can mock-up are endless! You can also utilize companies like Spoonflower or Fabric on Demand to create your own fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap. 

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