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Generate snazzy background imagery with the Pattern Maker

Added on Friday 27th of April 2007 01:36 am EST


Adobe Photoshop 7/CS/CS2

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



Coming up with background textures and patterns can be a drag sometimes. Photoshop comes with a host of preset patterns, but after a while those become old-hat. When you’re looking for an attention-grabbing background pattern that complements your imagery, look no further than Photoshop’s Pattern Maker.


To create snappy background imagery with Photoshop’s Pattern Maker, we’ll:

     Set up the layers in preparation for this technique.

     Sample an area of the image to generate a pattern in the Pattern Maker.

     Explore some of the features of the Pattern Maker dialog box so you can strategically generate custom patterns.

     Describe how to accentuate your final image with a filter effect and combined layer styles.


Patterns are everywhere—in the clouds of a bright sky, in the leaves of an autumn tree, and in the gentle waves of a quiet pond. In the same way that nature creates patterns of light and color that catch our interest and curiosity, so too can you create patterns that grab attention and even add a little zing to your images using Photoshop’s Pattern Maker.

When you couple it with other Photoshop features, such as an Outer Glow or a Drop Shadow layer style effect, as shown in Figure A, you have an unlimited array of creative possibilities.




Find an image


First we’ll open an image to work with and duplicate the background. If you want to follow along using our example, download the file from the URL listed at the beginning of this article, and extract the file daisy.psd.


To open an image and duplicate the background:

1.       Launch Photoshop, and open an image, like the one shown in Figure B.




2.      Double-click on the Background layer, enter Original in the New Layer dialog box, and click OK.

3.      Drag the Original layer onto the Create A New Layer button create_new at the base of the Layers palette to duplicate it.

4.      Rename this new layer Patttern.


Select the object


The next thing you need to do is isolate the object on its own layer. For our example we chose an image that already has an alpha channel so it makes for easy selecting. If you’re following along with a different image, use the selection tool of your choice to select the object. Otherwise, follow along with these steps.


To isolate the daisy on its own layer:

1.       [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) on the alpha channel thumbnail in the Channels palette to activate the selection.

2.      Press [command]J ([Ctrl]J in Windows) to place a copy of the daisy on its own layer.

3.      Rename the new layer Daisy, as shown in Figure C.



Scale the pattern imagery


We’ll use the daisy not only for the visual focus of our image, but also for the basis of our pattern. As a preferential step, we’ll remove the white background from around the daisy. Then, because we want to generate a pattern using the daisy at a smaller size than the original, we’ll need to resize it.


Note: We created a separate layer just for the pattern because the Pattern Maker replaces the active layer with the pattern it creates.


To remove the background and scale the Daisy layer:

1.       [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) on the alpha channel thumbnail in the Channels palette to activate the selection.

2.      Select the Pattern layer to make it active.

3.      Choose Select > Inverse to invert the selection.

4.      Press [delete] to remove the white background from the Pattern layer, then press [command]D ([Ctrl]D in Windows) to deselect the selection.

5.      Option-click ([Alt]-click in Windows) the eye icon eye to the left of the Pattern layer to keep its visibility on, and turn the visibility off for all the other layers.

6.      Choose Edit > Free Transform.

7.      Enter 75% in both the W and H text boxes on the tool options bar.

8.      Click the Commit Transform button commit on the tool options bar.


Select a sample for a pattern


Now that our pattern layer is all set up, we can create the pattern. For this first pattern, we won’t change any value options so we can see how the Pattern Maker works with the default settings.


To create a pattern:

1.       Select Filter > Pattern Maker to open the Patter Maker dialog box, as shown in Figure D.


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