Lesson 29: Using, Creating, and Downloading Patterns

Tonight I was working on a logo for the school I work at, and found the need to create my own pattern. I don't think I've given patterns much attention on this blog, for all they were one of the first things I learned to do when I started digital scrapbooking. Before I knew about kits and used them, I used patterns to give depth to flat surfaces when I created my wedding invitation, and also my wedding book. Patterns are a great way to make something pop a little bit, and they can be used in my diverse ways. These are some pages from my first two books, both of which were done without kits. I used patterns on the all the backgrounds for the pages.

Let's do a quick practice.

1. Open Photoshop and use your shape tool to draw any shape in any color.
2. Double click on your layer to get into the Layer Styles menu. On the list, check the Pattern Overlay box. You will see your shape take on the first pattern that is the default.
3. Click on the word "Overlay" from the list to bring up it's detailed menu.
4. Click on the down arrow and choose a pattern from the list.
5. Play with the different Opacity and Scale options

You have now used a pattern. There are a lot of other patterns to choose from. If you click on the small black arrow, as shown above, it gives you a long list. Here you can load patterns you've downloaded, but you can also add patterns that come with Photoshop but won't show up unless you add them. At the bottom of the menu (it's cut off in the picture) you will see a list of patterns with names like artists surfaces, nature, rock patterns, etc. You may want to click on each one to append them to your list so you can explore those as well.

Downloading Patterns

Can you get more patterns? I do it all the time! I often do searches for Photoshop .pat files. Here is a site where you can download some basic seamless patterns, to practice this tutorial. Click on the red download button.

When it prompts you where to save it, you will want to be very specific. I have actually created a "patterns" file in my Digital Scrapbooking folder. Any time I download a pattern, I put it there. Once I direct Photoshop to it in my Layer Styles menu, it will always go there automatically unless I change it.

This particular file is a .zip file so you will need to unzip it before you can use it.

Once you have downloaded and unzipped it, go back into Photoshop and into the layer styles menu as we did before. Click on the pull down menu and then the black arrow, as shown in the picture above. Click on "load patterns" and find the file you just saved.

Now when you scroll down, it will show the new patterns you just acquired.

Creating Patterns

Creating your own patterns is actually ridiculously easy. I did this today. I wanted the background to have floating clouds sort of greyed out and hazy, like watermark. So I found a picture of what I wanted and turned it into a pattern. I was then able to put it into my shape and change the opacity and scale as I needed it.

First, pull up the artwork you would like to use. You can create it yourself, or as in my case, just use a photo or a repeating image from online. Any texture file will do.

Go to Edit>Define Pattern. Give it a name.

Now go to you layer styles menu as we already have done and pull down the arrow to show your patterns. At the very bottom you should now have another pattern--the one you just added! It's that easy!

Changing Blending Modes

One little tip as you are playing with patterns is to pay attention to your blending mode. This is especially true if you want to have both a gradient and a pattern on the same shape.

I don't profess to me a master of blending modes, and I only use a few of them for different reasons. But here's just a few tips:

Overlay: If you would like to use both a gradient and a pattern, set the blending mode ON THE GRADIENT to Overlay. This will ensure that you can see both the pattern and your gradient.

Also, if you change the blending mode on your pattern to Overlay, it also changes the look to be more transparent and let the color of your shape shine through better.

The others on the list you will have to test out and see what they do. The only other ones I use a lot are hard light, vivid light, and sometimes multiply. This is not because the others aren't useful, it's just that I have a lot to learn myself!

Here is the finished logo that I created tonight. I ended up using a lot of patterns. The trees have one of the default nature patterns added, the maroon background has a sky pattern that I created, and the wood outer border is from a pattern that I downloaded!

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