We draw repeating patterns using arbitrary shapes in Photoshop

This is the third lesson in a series of lessons on creating and applying repeating patterns in Photoshop. In previous lessons we learned the basics of creating your own repeating pattern. We developed a separate motif, saved it as a pattern, and then applied the pattern to the whole layer. Next, we looked at how to add color to our patterns using layer fillings with color and gradient.

In this lesson we will learn how to apply our knowledge and create interesting and unusual repetitive patterns with the help of arbitrary figures in Photoshop!

Step 1. Create a new document.

As we already know from previous lessons, the first thing we need to do is create a separate motif, which will then become a repeating pattern. This requires a new empty document, so go to the menu “File” (File) at the top of the screen and select “New” (New):

Choose “File”> “New”

As a result, a dialog box will open. “New” (New). The size of the document will determine the size of the motive, which in turn will be saved as a repeating pattern. Since a smaller motif will require more repetitions than a larger motif to occupy the same space, the size of the motif will have a significant effect on the overall look of the pattern. In our case, we will create an element with a size of 100 x 100 pixels. When you later create your own patterns, you can experiment with motif dimensions, but for the purpose of this lesson, enter 100 pixels for the parameters Width (Width) and Height (Height). Ensure that the parameter “Background Content” (Background Contents) changed to “Transparent” (Transparent). Parameter “Resolution” (Resolution) can be left unchanged by default – 72 pixels per inch (pixels / inch):

New Document Dialog Box

Click OK to close the dialog box. A new blank document will appear on the screen. Since the document is quite small – only 100 x 100 pixels, I will zoom in by holding the key Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) and pressing the “space”. As a result, the tool is temporarily activated. “Scale” (Zoom Tool) (you will see the cursor take the shape of a magnifying glass). Next, click a few times anywhere within the document to zoom in. The image scale became equal to 500%.

The checkerboard pattern in the fill window indicates that the background of the document is transparent

Step 2. Add guides through the center of the document

Now, we need to pinpoint the center of the document, and we can do this with the help of guides. Earlier, in the lesson on learning the basics of creating repetitive patterns, we looked at how to add guides using the command “New Guide” (New Guide). This time we will add guides using the rulers. Both ways of adding guides are convenient, so use any of them at your discretion. In our case, go to the menu “View” (View) at the top of the screen and select “Rulers” (Rulers):

ChooseView“>”Rulers

After that, rulers will appear at the top and left of the document. Click on any place inside the left ruler and hold down the mouse button and move the vertical guide to the center of the document. Release the mouse button to place the guide in the right place:

Click inside the left ruler and move the vertical guide to the center of the document.

Next, click on any place inside the top ruler and, while holding down the mouse button, move the horizontal guide to the center of the document. Release the mouse button to place the second guide:

Click inside the top ruler and move the horizontal guide to the center of the document.

After the guides are added, you can disable the rulers by going to the menu section “View” (View) and selecting again “Rulers” (Rulers). Or you can use the key combination Ctrl + R (Win) / Command + R (Mac) to quickly turn on / off the rulers. In the place where both guides intersect, will be the center of the document. In my screenshot guides are red. If you learned my first lesson on repeating patterns, then you know that the guides have become that color because I changed their color in the section “Installations” (Preferences) so that they become more visible on the screen. By default, the color of the guides is blue, so your guides are of that color unless you change their color in the settings:

Do not worry if your guides are of a different color, for example, blue. It does not matter.

Step 3. Choose the tool “Arbitrary shape”

On the toolbar, select a tool. “Freeform” (Custom Shape Tool). By default, it is behind the tool. “Rectangle” (Rectangle Tool), so click on the tool icon and hold down the mouse button for a few seconds until the pop-up menu appears on the screen, then select the Freehand tool from the list that appears:

Click on the Rectangle tool icon, hold down the mouse button, then select the Freehand tool from the list that appears.

Step 4. Select the “Pixel Fill” option

Photoshop has three ways to apply the Shapes group of tools. We will not go into details, but, in general, we can draw vector shapes, outlines, or pixel shapes. The program allows us to save our drawing as a pattern, if it is made of pixels, so first we need to tell the program to fill our shapes with pixels. We can do this by selecting the appropriate option in the settings bar at the top of the screen. Closer to the left edge of the settings panel is a group of three icons. Each icon represents a specific type of shape that we can draw. Click the third icon (rightmost) to select an option. “Pixel Fill” (Fill pixels):

Select the “Pixel Fill” option by clicking the corresponding icon on the settings panel

Step 5. Choose an arbitrary shape

After we have specified the program that we want to work with pixel shapes, we need to select the shape we want to draw. Click on the thumbnail of the figure in the preview window of the figure on the settings panel:

Click on the thumbnail of the figure in the preview window

As a result, the Shapes Palette will open, where small thumbnails of all available shapes will be displayed, from which we will be able to select the desired one. To select a shape, simply click on its thumbnail. In my case, I will select a heart shape by clicking on it. Once you have selected a shape, click Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to close the shapes palette:

Click on the miniature heart shape to select it.

Step 6. Draw a shape in the center of the document

Now we need to draw the shape in the center of the document, which is why we added guides to define the exact center. We want our shape to be black, so press the letter D to quickly restore the default foreground and background colors. Thus, the foreground color will turn black. You can see the current foreground and background colors by looking at their thumbnails at the bottom of the toolbar:

Color swatches of front (left upper square) and rear (lower right) plan on the toolbar

After selecting black as the foreground color, position the mouse cursor right in the center of the document – so that the cursor icon (as a target) matches the vertical and horizontal guides, and then, while holding the mouse button pressed, start moving the cursor while drawing the shape. After you have started drawing the shape, press the key combination Shift + Alt (Win) / Shift + Option (Mac) and keep the keys pressed during the entire drawing process. Key hold Shift allow you to keep the original aspect ratio, so the figure will not work out higher and thinner or shorter and thicker than originally intended, while the key Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) will tell the program that the shape needs to be drawn from the center. When you’re done, you should have a similar result (in my case, the document scale is 500%, so the edges of the shape look angular):

Draw a shape in the center of the document

Step 7. Disable the guides.

After we have drawn the shape, we will no longer need the guides, and since they divert attention, let’s turn them off. Go to the menu section “View” (View) at the top of the screen, select “Show” (Show) – “Guides” (Guides). To the left of the word “Guides” you will see a tick that tells us that guides are included. Click the checkmark again to turn them off.

Choose View> Show> Guides to disable guides.

Step 8. Duplicate the layer

Let’s make our drawing a little more interesting before saving it as a pattern. Create a copy of the layer by going to the menu section. “Layers” (Layer) at the top of the screen and selecting “New” (New) – “Copy to new layer” (Layer via Copy):

Choose Layers> New> Copy To New Layer

To quickly copy a layer, you can also press the key combination Ctrl + J (Win) / Command + J (Mac) In any case, the program will create a copy of Layer 1 called “Copy Layer 1” (Layer 1 copy) and place the new layer above the original on the layers panel:

A copy of the layer will appear above the original layer.

Step 9. Apply the Shift filter

Just like when learning the basics of creating repetitive patterns, we will use the Shift filter to make the motive more interesting. Go to section “Filter” (Filter) in the menu bar at the top of the screen, select “Other” (Other) and on “Shift” (Offset):

ChooseFilter >Other >Shift

As a result, the Shift filter dialog box opens. We need to enter a value equal to half the width of the document in the “Horizontally” data entry window and a value equal to half the height of the document in the Vertical data entry window. Since our document is 100 x 100 pixels, for parameters “Horizontally” (Horizontal) and “Vertically” (Vertical) set the value to 50 pixels. Next, make sure that the option is selected at the bottom of the dialog box. “Insert clipped fragments” (Wrap Around):

Shift filter dialog

Click OK to close the dialog box. As we shall see, the Shift filter divided the heart shape into four equal parts and placed them in the corners of the document. At the moment, the picture may seem a bit strange, but further, as a repeating pattern, it will not be such. The heart that remains in the center is the original figure that we painted in Step 6:

Document after applying the Shift filter to a copy of a heart shape

Step 10. Save the pattern as a pattern.

Having painted a motif, we are ready to save it as a pattern. Go to the menu section “Editing” (Edit) at the top of the screen and select “Define the pattern” (Define Pattern):

Select “Editing” > “Define the pattern”

As a result of this action, a dialog box will open. “Pattern Name” (Pattern Name), where you will be prompted to name the new pattern. A good idea is to include in the name of the pattern the size of the motive, in case you develop several similar motifs of different sizes. In my case, I will call the pattern “Hearts 100×100”, since the dimensions of my motive are 100 x 100 pixels. Click OK when you give your pattern a name to close the dialog box. And now our pattern is saved and ready for use:

The inclusion in the name of the pattern of motif sizes can be useful

Step 11. Create a new document.

Let’s create a new document to fill it with a new pattern. Just like in Step 1, go to menu “File” (File) and select “New” (New). This time, when the New Document dialog box opens, enter a value of 1000 pixels for the parameters Width (Width) and Height (Height) and change “Background Content” (Background Contents) on “White” (White). Parameter “Resolution” (Resolution) can be left unchanged by default – 72 pixels per inch (pixels / inch) Click OK to close the dialog box and a new document filled with white will appear on the screen:

Create a new document

Step 12. Create a new empty layer.

Instead of filling our pattern with a background layer, which will lead to some restrictions, let’s add a pattern on a separate layer. Click on the icon Create New Layer (New Layer) at the bottom of the layers panel:

Click on the icon “Create a new layer”

The program will add a new blank layer called “Layer 1” (Layer 1) above the layer with the background:

Program byplaces a new layer above the layer with the background

Step 13. Select the “Fill” tool

In previous lessons we learned how to fill a layer with a pattern using the Run Fill command. This time we will look at how you can do the same thing using the tool. “Fill” (Paint Bucket Tool), which also allows us to fill a layer or selection with a color or pattern. You will find the Fill tool in the toolbar. By default, it is hidden behind the tool. “Gradient” (Gradient Tool), so click on the “Gradient” tool, keep the mouse button pressed until the pop-up menu appears, and select the “Fill” tool from the list:

Click on the “Gradient” tool, hold down the mouse button and select the “Fill” tool from the list that appears.

Step 14. Change the source for the fill to “Pattern”

Selecting the Fill tool, go to the settings panel and select as the source for the fill. “Pattern” (Pattern) (by default, the fill source is set to “Main color” (Foreground)):

Change the source for the fill to “Pattern”

Step 15. Choose a pattern

Having chosen the “Pattern” item, click on the pattern thumbnail in the preview window on the settings panel:

Click on the thumbnail of the pattern in the preview window to the right of the “Source” parameter on the settings panel

As a result, the Patterns palette opens, where we can select the desired pattern. The pattern we just created will be the last in the list. Click on its thumbnail to select. Once you select a pattern, click Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to close the Pattern Palette:

Choose the pattern “Hearts” by clicking on its miniature

Step 16. Click inside the document to add a pattern.

Make sure that Layer 1 is selected in the layers panel (the selected layers are highlighted in blue), then after choosing a pattern in the settings panel, click anywhere inside the document with the tool active “Fill” (Paint Bucket Tool), as a result of which the document is immediately filled with a pattern. The pattern will repeat as many times as required to fill the entire layer.

Click inside the document to fill with the Layer 1 pattern.

At the moment, our pattern is black and white, but we can easily paint it. You can read all the information on coloring the pattern in the previous lesson, so I will not repeat here. Below is a sample of how the pattern may look after coloring the background and the pattern itself:

Same pattern after adding color

On the layers panel, you can see that I added colors using only two layers-fill colors: one for the background, the other for the pattern. And again, in more detail with all the necessary steps for this you can learn in the previous lesson:

Colors have been added using color fill layers.

Load additional arbitrary shapes.

When performing Step 5 and choosing an arbitrary shape in the Shapes Palette, you may have noticed that there are not many shapes available for selection in the palette by default. Such a choice could upset you a bit, if only you didn’t need to add repeating arrows, blue bubbles or envelopes to the design. Fortunately, there are other shapes from which we can choose the one we need. We only need to download them ourselves. Next we look at how. With the Shapes Palette open, click on the small arrow icon in the upper right corner:

Click on the arrow icon

As a result, a menu will open with various parameters, including a list of additional sets of shapes, from which we will be able to select the desired one. I will not consider them all, since you can do it yourself, but as an example I will choose a set “Animals” (Animals):

Choose any set from the list of additional sets of arbitrary shapes.

The program will ask if we want to replace the current shapes with new ones or add new shapes to the existing ones at the end of the list. Choose To add (Append):

Click on the “Add” button

Back in the Shapes Palette, scroll through the list of thumbnails to the end to find new shapes that have been added after the original shapes. Select any of the newly added shapes by clicking on its thumbnail. I will choose a shape in the shape of a dog paw print:

Choosing a figure in the form of a dog paw print

Below is an example of a repeating pattern, created on the basis of an arbitrary “Dog’s footprint”. To do this, I first created a new document with a slightly larger size of 150 x 150 pixels to design the motive (see Step 1), then in the Shift filter dialog box (Step 8) for “Horizontally” (Horizontal) and “Vertically” (Vertical) entered values ​​equal to 75 pixels each (half the width and height of the document). Next, I changed the color of the pattern using a fill layer with a color for the background and another layer fill with a color for the pattern itself:

Another example of a repeating pattern created with arbitrary shapes.

If none of the arbitrary shapes is suitable for your design, you can easily create your own arbitrary shapes, having studied in detail the lesson “Creating arbitrary shapes”!

And here we are done! We learned how to create repeating patterns based on arbitrary shapes in Photoshop! Visit our “Basics of Work” section, where various lessons are presented by layers, selections, interface, and other program elements, or consider other topics that will interest you!

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