Deke’s Techniques 017: Creating a Seamlessly Repeating Pattern in Photoshop

Upon reviewing this week’s technique, I regard it as entirely sound and junk. But I fear it may ask as many questions than it answers. Which is the purpose of art, after all.

In this free video, I show you how to create a seamlessly repeating tile pattern in Photoshop. Which involves as many applications of the Offset filter as it requires leaps of logic. It’s all there, but even I had to pause the movie a couple of times and shake the cobwebs out of my head. And I recorded the damn thing! Which just goes to show you . . . not sure what.

Here’s the official description:

In this week’s free video technique, Deke McClelland shows you how to use Photoshop’s Offset filter to create a repeating—or tessellating—pattern for your homemade giftwrap project, in which an image (or two in this case) are “wrapped” around so that they can be tiled into a seamlessly repeating pattern.  So you can go ahead and spend all your hard earned cash on the gift inside, and then use Deke’s technique to print your wrapping paper at home. In fact, Deke, feeling extra thrifty, demonstrates this technique with a couple of ribbon photographs complete with bows, saving even more money, not to mention knot-tying:

The gold and red ribbons (from Fotolia)

And by offsetting and duplicating the images in Photoshop, you’ll end up with a convenient, delightfully intertwined pattern, as you can see below. I editorially requested Deke re-color the final image slightly for this blog post example, creating a timely Mother’s Day-friendly theme. The beauty of creating your patterned paper in Photoshop is that you can adjust it for the season:

The perfect Mother's Day gift wrap

Of course, even with Photoshop’s handy filter, having your pattern line up correctly at the edges is problematic, if not downright impractically optimistic. In this week’s exclusive video in the Online Training Library, members can see the fine-tuning that Deke applies at the seams where this pattern repeats. Deke shows you how a combination of layers, masks, and blend modes can correct or simply hide the misaligned edges of the repeating pattern.

Tiling an interesting pattern has all kinds of practical uses, even if you’re not M.C. Escher.  If you’re enchanted by the idea of tessellation, and you’re an Adobe Illustrator user, be sure to check out Chapter 16: “Repeating Tile Patterns” of Deke’s Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced course. With a Illustrator, a little math, and some attention to detail, Deke actually shows how he created this amazing set of tiled, interlocking creatures.

Interlocking troglodytes made in Adobe Illustrator

Every week, Deke shares a new technique, designed to inspire you in your own work or awaken your own curiosity. And members can always review the whole course of collected techniques here. Meanwhile, we’ll see you back next week for another free technique d’Eke.

This is one of those deep topics I might revisit in the future. In the meantime, let me know what you think.

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