Create an easy repeating pattern with Photoshop

photoshop how-tos starting out Sep 01, 2022

What even is a repeating pattern? It’s a design that stretches seamlessly for infinity, just like the design on a roll of fabric. And if you’d like to become a surface print pattern designer, then it’s one of the most important skills to learn. 

Tutorial by Lyndsay, Senior Designer



Here we break it down for you in 5 easy steps.  

1. Place your hero

Start by creating a bunch layout in the centre of your art board. Make sure there’s some bare canvas around it.

2. Duplicate and place over-hanging motifs

You can see that this flower is hanging off our canvas at the bottom so to make this repeat work, it will need to reappear that the top of the canvas.

To do this, duplicate the motif then use the x and Y axis in the toolbar to move it north exactly the length of the canvas. This canvas is 64cm, so you’ll see me type -64 into the Y axis to move the motif 64cm exactly north.

TIP: Make sure that the triangle in between your x and y is selected first.

3. Fill out the design 

Now, with ‘auto-selected’ ticked, select a section of elements and duplicate them. Rotate and position them off the canvas. Duplicate this group of selected elements and send south by 64cm using the Y axis.  Duplicate them again and send west on the x axis and then north -64 on the Y axis again.  And that’s the magic trick!

Now duplicate your elements and fill out your design, duplicating and using the axis on the toolbar wherever your motif falls off the edge of the canvas.

Now you’ve created a pattern from your design.

4. Test with Pattern Fill

Expand your canvas to check that all the elements repeat seamlessly around the edge of the tile. It will also help you to  check the flow of the design once repeated out.

5. Edit your work

If you spot any areas that look a bit empty and need a quick rework (as we have here!) make sure that the flow of the repeat is harmonious.

If not, make those edits to improve the flow and test it again using pattern fill. Expand the canvas again to check it.  

And you’ve done it! You’ve created a quick and easy repeating pattern you can use in all your pattern projects.


Whether you're just starting out, you're already designing for a living or you're ready to see your work on the global stage, this Ultimate Handbook gives you the exact blueprint that we use everyday in the Longina Phillips Design studio. Download it now!


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