Using Seamless Tiles (2)

In Part 1 of the “How To Use Seamless Tiles” tutorial, I looked at resizing the tile, defining it as a pattern in Photoshop, and using it as a Pattern Overlay on layers.

In Part 2 of the tutorial, I will continue looking at creative ways of applying tiling textures  – this time using them for creating decorative edges and overlays on objects and text.

Adding a Pattern Stroke Border.


In the image above I have added a shape layer – but you can apply this to any type of layer (text, picture or bitmap).

In the Layer Styles that can be applied (going to the little ‘F’ icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette) a Stroke can be applied to anything in Photoshop. Now a stroke is really an outline or border – I have had people stare at me blankly or in confusion when I have said “stroke your layer” as if I were talking about my cat. I am not.

Strokes have the following options:

  • Size: how wide the border outline will be
  • Position: outside (will result in rounded corners but show all of the actual layer’s content) or inside (which will have sharp corners but cover part of the layers content) or center (a bit of both).
  • Blend Mode: how the stoke’s color interacts with the color of the layer or layers below it.
  • Opacity: transparency of the stroke.
  • Color: Last option.
  • All these are fairly straight forward, what is often overlooked is that the Fill Type can be solid, a gradient or a pattern. For this tutorial, we will look more at using a pattern stroke.

Depending on the size of your document and the object, the size of the stroke can be altered – for my example I have made it 51 pixels. To retain sharp corners on the shape the stroke is set to a position of inside, and the opacity has been slightly lowered. I selected the pattern used in Part 1 of the tutorial, and scaled it down. (Scaling can be much more extreme for strokes as the detail is often hard to see anyway). Shown above.

Its worth trying different tiles – often the most unexpected ones work best – take a truly ugly one and use it in the right situation and you may have magic!

Pattern Overlay on Text.

As before, a Pattern Style can be applied to text. This can be used to lift text out of the background, add extra dimension to it, or make it seem less harsh.

Above, I have used the same pattern for the Stroke  style as well as the Pattern Overlay – by varying size of the pattern, its opacity or its blending modes they can vary a lot or a little. My overlay on the text was scaled down, my stroke pattern size was scaled up. Abstract patterns work especially well to create liquid, metallic, chrome or fire effects with the minimum of time and difficulty. (Remember, you can save your styles and re-use them as well).

To finish off this tutorial, we will complete a simple desktop, by adding a few more patterns into the mix (all available on this website).

I opened and defined the Milkshake Pattern and applied it to a filled layer (continuing in the same file as Part 1). All you need do is fill a new layer and then set the Pattern Overlay style for it. As I wanted the ‘milkshake’ to be a different color, I used a blending mode of Difference on a layer that was blue – and ended with orange.

I double clicked on the style applied to my hexagonal shape layer – and changed the pattern used to the same milkshake tile – but this time left the Blending Mode as Normal so it was kept its original color. Now is a nice enough shape, but the big blue fill is not what is wanted – so read on.

Opacity vs Fill

Each layer has options at the top of Photoshop’s Layer panel, including Opacity and Fill. What is the difference?

Opacity will make a layer’s content and all the styles associated within a lower opacity – like a master slider. If I reduce Fill, however, a layer’s content is less visible, while its Layer Styles remain the individual opacities they were set to be when you added them (i.e. it does not affect them) . So by setting Fill to 0, I do not see the blue content of the layer, but I can still see the border layer style.

I changed the Pattern Overlay on the text to the wrinkled paper pattern available on this site. Opacity for the style was lowered, so as to slightly darken the pattern – since the text was black.

As the paper looked good in terms of shapes but dull in terms of color, I changed the Blending Mode to Hard Light – which works in this case – you will need to vary it according to the color of the text or layer content and the colors within the pattern itself, from case to case.

Lastly for the text, I changed the Stroke Pattern Style to the flaming texture you can find here.

This is unrelated, but may be of use. Outer Glow, as a style, can lack the fine control Drop Shadow has. Why not try setting the drop shadow colour to light and changing the Blend Mode to one suited to light colors – such as Screen. It will look like an outer glow, but be somewhat more flexible!

Adding a border to a whole image.

To add a border above all layers in a Photoshop document, start by either create a new layer and simply fill it, or draw a rectangular shape layer of the same size as the canvas. (What the difference – its easier to resize the shape layer and it is smaller in file size).

Add a Stroke Layer Style to this new layer – make sure the Position is inside else you will not see it.

Set the Fill of this layer to 0% (as circled above)  – it will assist in the next artistic decisions, and you will not want the content blocking out the rest of your image anyway.

I am re-using the wrinkled paper texture, but changing the Opacity and Blend Mode to something I like for this image. I have circled part of the border – it will go all the way around the image when zoomed out.

That’s it for Part 2. In Part 3 (coming soon) I will examine working with Paths, and Stroking the paths with patterns. Thanks for reading. You can review Part 1 here.

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