Seamless Tile Tut

Seamless Tile – One Method (Simple)

Creating ‘seamless’ tiles – patterns or visuals that can repeat without noticeable edges – is one of the most fun things to do (yes, I know). To me, its like a little bit of magic; economy that can be infinite.

There are many ways to do these, in various applications.

For a clever and simple approach, check out Verlee’s blog. Personally, I enjoy a tile that connects in a way that makes the pattern hard to distinguish.

The following tutorial is something that seems quite tricky (perhaps) but once the concept is grasped (10 minutes, max) is easy and flexible to take further than the results presented here.

I have tried to simplify the process as much as possible in terms of work process and visuals to ensure clarity and brevity.

I will say this only once – hold down SHIFT if you are dragging layer contents; zoom in to check that pixels are 100% accurately placed.

We will be creating the following tiled pattern:

The end result

Start off by creating a new document, whatever resolution you want, the dimensions of the one in this tutorial is 200 x 200 pixels. It need not be square, but may take a little more calculation for sizes, so lets keep it simple – and square.

Fill this document (on a new layer) with a colour.

Filled canvas

Now, for creating the pattern we need to have a document that allows for repetition of the pattern below and above, on all sides (document size x3).

Image > Canvas Size and, anchored in the center, triple width and height – in this case each becomes 600 pixels.

Increase canvas size The resized canvas

Next, we need to show ourselves where the pattern will be, we could use Guides, but I find them annoying to work accurately as they can get in the way. Duplicate the square/colour-filled layer four times, positioning it (accurately!) in each corner. You can merge these layers together, and I suggest dropping the opacity so they are less intrusive.

Checkerboard indicated tiles

What will happen now is – the center square will become the tile area. Everything contained in that area will repeat without problem. Anything that falls outside of the center square needs to repeat on the opposite side of the square itself (remember that the white areas will have the same pattern).

That sounds confusing – let me rather illustrate this.

You can draw the pattern anyway you please – I have used the Pen Tool to create some spiral shapes – note that they go outside of our “main” square.

Make sure this is on a new layer.

After which I have Stroked them with a brush of about 5 pixels diameter, with the Simulate Pen Pressure option checked on. (If you have a problem with the Pressure option – as I have, please see the table below the next 2 illustrations, else skip happily on).

Pen Tool drawn spirals Stroked Paths

Problems with Simulate Pen Pressure when Stroking a Path in Photoshop? Try this –

Options for Stroking a Path

There are 2 ways of stroking a path, either from the fly-out numbered 1, or by clicking the icon, marked 2.
#1 will allow you to select which tool and to activate Simulate Pen Pressure

#2 will use which ever tool is currently in use with the Simulate option as previously set – so start by using the flyout.

If it does not apply a varied stroke dimension, go to Brush Dynamics and ensure Shape Dynamic is checked on (#3).

Also, ensure the drop down says control is Pen Pressure (#4).

Back to our pattern.

Select and move pattern overlaps

Now the ‘overlaps’; the areas outside of the main box need to move.

The selected tendril pictured above should actually be repeated inside the yellow box at the bottom.

(You may move the contents of the selected area which ever way you prefer.)

First overlap moved

Now repeat the process on each side. The right side is the same – it will simply be moved to the left side; more complex areas can be trickier. Select everything that falls outside of the bottom (in this case) and move it all to the top.

Caution with more complex overlaps

Then anything on the outside of the right will move to the inside of the left.

Touch up extra bits Moved into position

Keep this in mind – anything on the outside must move to the inside of the corresponding side (top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right and vice versa). You want everything neatly contained in one area, which will be the tile, and should look something like the image below.

Final tile

Now, add some additional shapes inside the area to make it look more interesting.

Paths again Stroked paths

Select the box area, and go to Edit > Define Pattern (the selected area must always be square or rectangular and not be feathered).

Define Pattern

That is now complete and can be applied as a Fill or Pattern Overlay (latter is more flexible).

Final complex pattern applied

This can be taken further, with different ways of drawing patterns. If you keep all your tiles to use as patterns the same size, they can easily be overlaid on each other to create more patterns that boggle the brain.

The below example is not so much aesthetically pleasing as it is meant to be easily comprehensible by having 2 very different patterns combined.

Square with brush work Top overlap moved to bottom Move overlap as shown above Blurry paint work Some painted linesand so on …

Now combined with the previous example we get:

Two pattern filled layers with blending mode set

Play around with the idea, it’s quite simple but very useful.

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