Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating seamless patterns from shape layers, part of Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers.
This movie is about using a custom shape to create a repeating pattern. Now this may be something that you've seen before and it's pretty easy to do, but the twist on it here is that we're using a custom shape and then our pattern tile is consequently going to have the benefit of being scalable, should we decide that we want to change the size of our pattern. So I've used the light bulb custom shape and it's somewhere in our standard shapes. It's right there. And I've got one of these that's right in the center of the canvas.
Now in order to get this to repeat and tile perfectly I need to put other versions of the light bulb at the four corners of my image. And I need them to line-up exactly. So here is a trick that we can use to have them line-up exactly. To do this we're going to use the Offset filter, but the Offset filter is not going to work on a Vector shape without rasterizing it and we don't want that to happen. So before I do that I'm going to make the stamp of my layers above my current layer stack.
And I'm going to Merge Visible but Merge Visible into a new layer. So I'm holding down the Alt or Option key while I do this. So that's made a rasterized copy of my layer at the top of my layer stack. Now I'm going to come to my Filter menu > Other and choose Offset. Now this document that I'm working with is 200 pixels square, so I want to go horizontally 100 pixels and vertically 100 pixels. That's going to divide my light bulb into four and position it exactly at the four corners.
Now what I want to do is come back to my original light bulb shape where I'm going to copy this four times, one, two, three, four, and pressing Command+J four times. And I now want to get these copies and place them exactly over the rasterized portion which we're essentially using as a tracing layer. So I'm going to start with the top image and then I'm just going to drag that and position it exactly in place like so, and then I can come and select the next one, and the next one.
I'm clicking on the vector masks to make the path active. So now my top tracing layer has served its purpose. We can turn that off. In fact, we can now throw that away. What we're left with is five custom vector shapes that will make up our pattern. So what we need to do next is define it as pattern tile, but before I do that I'm also going to just add a little bit of noise to the background so we have a bit of texture. I've already done that actually.
It's on a Smart Filter. I just have it turned off for the moment, but when I turn it on we can see that we just get a little bit texture there and if that's a little bit too much, and I think it is, because it's been applied as a Smart Filter I can double-click on the Smart Filter name and reduce that amount I'm going to go down to 4%. So now I can come to my Edit menu and choose Define Pattern. It's going to give me a little preview of it there. I'll give it a name. Now that it's defined as a pattern I can fill any area or any canvas, and I'm going to have a canvas that's 900 pixels x 550 pixels. And then I'm going to press Shift+Delete, which is the keyboard shortcut for the Fill command, or use Edit > Fill, and I'm going to fill it with a pattern.
And the pattern I want is that one. And there we have it, our repeating pattern created using the offset filter. But where the custom shape really comes into play is its scalability. So we took the precaution of retaining our original pattern tile as a vector custom shape. So that if we needed to go back and style the whole thing, let's say we needed to come back to the original and we decided that we actually want it to be an 800 pixels square, we could scale it up here and we're not going to suffer any kind of degradation quality.
It's vectors that we're working with and not pixels.
- Converting shapes to paths and paths to shapes
- Moving, deleting, copying, and rasterizing shape layers
- Drawing pen paths
- Inverting a path
- Combining shapes
- Adding strokes to shape layers
- Creating shape layers from type
- Creating custom shapes from Illustrator symbols
- Building a photo grid
- Combining vector masks and layer masks
- Converting a shape layer to a selection, vector mask, or layer mask
- Working with paths and clipping paths