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Create a Complex, Repeating, Geometric Pattern in Photoshop

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For many, the thought of creating a complex geometric pattern in Photoshop might seem like a daunting task. While complex patterns might look complicated, the techniques used to create them aren't actually that advanced. In this tutorial, we will use vector shapes to design a complex geometric pattern, without the use of any plug-ins or special effects. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

1. Preparing Canvas

Step 1

In Photoshop, make new file by pressing Command/Ctrl-N. Set its size to 250 × 250 pixels.


Step 2

Hit Command/Ctrl-R to reveal Ruler on left and top of the canvas. Right click to change the measurement units and select Pixels.


Step 3

Drag from vertical ruler to add guide at 125 pixels or half the canvas width. This guide will help in placing shapes accurately.


Step 4

Repeat same step, this time from horizontal ruler.


Step 5

Click foreground color to change it to #5a5b5d.


Step 6

Hit Alt-Delete to fill background with foreground color.


2. First Geometric Shape

Step 1

The pattern is made of three geometrical objects. We will start by making the smallest object because it is the simplest. We are going to have many objects. It's always a good idea to organize your layers. Make new group layer by clicking on folder icon in lower part of Layers panel. Double click to name it small pattern.


Step 2

Activate Ellipse Tool from Toolbar. Click once on center of the canvas. A dialog box will pop up asking the ellipse parameters. Enter 40 pixels to make a circle shape. Select From Center to make it placed at center of the canvas. Click OK.


In Properties Panel you can set property of the circle shape. Make sure you have selected it using Path Selection Tool. In Shape Details, set Fill to None and Stroke to White, 2 pt.


Step 3

Add another circle, this time sized 20 × 20 pixels. Place it as shown below. Set its Fill to None and Stroke to 1 pt.


Step 4

Add another circle with same properties – Stroke and Fill – and place it on the opposite side. Make sure their positions are both symmetrical.


Step 5

Draw smaller circle intersecting left side of the main big circle.


Step 6

Draw another circle with same size and property. Place it on the opposite side.


Step 7

Select both circles using Path Selection Tool.


Step 8

Duplicate path and select Command/Ctrl-Alt-T to rotate the path -30°. Hold Shift while dragging to snap the rotation to every 15°.


Step 9

Repeat same step, this time rotate it 30°.


Step 10

Activate Polygon Tool. From Option Bar, set Sides to 6. Click small arrow next to setting icon and select Star and set Indent Sides By 25%. Click and drag to draw a six pointed star.


Step 11

Zoom in closer by clicking the star a few times using Zoom Tool. Examine the point position on the pixel grid. Make sure each point is placed right on the intersection. Manually, drag each point using Direct Selection Tool.



If you don't see this pixel grid, you can turn it on by clicking View > Show > Pixel Grid.


Step 12

Repeat this process to all other pixel.


Below, you can see difference before and after adjusting pixel.



This is the geometric shape we have.


3. Second Geometric Shape

Step 1

Now, let's work on our second object. Create a group called med pattern. The steps are relatively similar to the first object. We will draw lots of circles and polygons, and then duplicate and rotate them. Hide the first object by clicking the eye icon in the Layers panel.


Step 2

Draw a circle in center of the canvas. Set Fill to None and Stroke to 1 pixel, and white color.


Step 3

Add a Layer Mask onto the layer. Make a 2 pixel cross shape selection using Rectangular Marquee Tool and then fill it with black.


This is the result in 100% magnification.


Step 4

Draw bigger circle, still at center of the canvas with 1 pixel white stroke.


Step 5

Activate Polygon Tool and then click once on the canvas. Size should be 14 × 18 pixels with 3 sides. Give it 1 pixel white stroke


This will give us a triangle.


Step 6

Use Direct Selection Tool to fix the point position.


We want each point to be exactly on the pixel grid.


Step 7

Select the triangle path using Path Selection Tool. Duplicate it. Place it on the opposite side.


Step 8

Hit Command/Ctrl-T and then rotate it 180°.


Step 9

Select both triangles using Path Selection Tool. Hit Command/Ctrl-Alt-T to perform duplication and transformation at once. Shift-drag outside the bounding box to rotate it at 30°.


Step 10

Make sure the path is still selected. Hit Command/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-T to repeat the duplication and transformation command.


And here's the result at 100% magnification.


Step 11

Draw a big circle with Radius of 110 pixels at center of the canvas. Set its Stroke to 2 pixels.


Step 12

This time draw an ellipse shape, sized 14 × 20 pixels with a 2 pixel white stroke. Place it on top, touching the circle.


Step 13

Activate Convert Point Tool. Click once on the top to turn the point into a sharp point. Do this too to the bottom point.


Step 14

Select the path with Path Selection Tool and then duplicate it. Place it on lower part of the big circle.


Step 15

Select both shapes. Hit Command/Ctrl-Alt-T. Rotate it 15° by Shift-dragging outside the bounding box.


Step 16

Repeat this by hitting Command/Ctrl-Shift-Alt-T repeteadly.


This is the result at 100% magnification.


Step 17

Draw a small circle touching top left of the big circle. Set its Stroke to 1 pt with white color.


Make a square selection from center of the canvas to center of the circle. The circle should be at the end of your selection.


Step 18

Draw a six-pointed star. Use Polygon Tool with Star option selected in the Option Bar.


Step 19

Reposition each point until we have a perfect pixel shape.


Below, you can see the difference before and after the point repositioning.


Step 20

Duplicate the circle and six-pointed star. Place it on the opposite side.


4. Third Geometric Shape

Step 1

This is our final and most complex object. Start by drawing a hexagon using Polygon Tool. Next, draw a small circle on one of its corners. Set both strokes to 2 pixels, and white.


Step 2

Duplicate the circle path. Place it on its opposite side..


Step 3

Select both shapes. Hit Command/Ctrl-Alt-T to duplicate and transform them. Rotate it 60°.


Step 4

Repeat the process by pressing Command/Ctrl-Shift-Alt-T.


The result in 100% magnification.


Step 5

Draw a circle with 2 pt Stroke.


Step 6

Draw a triangle. Duplicate and place it on the opposite side. Rotate it 180°.


Step 7

Duplicate and rotate them 30°.


Step 8

Repeat the process until we get full circular shape.


Step 9

Use previous steps to add circles inside the triangles.


Step 10

Add six pointed stars inside the top and bottom triangle.


Step 11

Duplicate and rotate them.


Step 12

Keep repeating this process.


Step 13

I took extra steps by rotating each star until they are at same condition, one point on top and bottom.


Here is what we have at 100% magnification.


Step 14

Draw bigger circle at center of the canvas. Use big Stroke, 4 pt.


Step 15

Draw smaller circle with thinner line, 2 pt.


Step 16

Draw small circle between both previous circles. Place it on top and bottom.


Step 17

Select both circle paths. Hit Command/Ctrl-Alt-T and then rotate it 15°.


Step 18

Keep repeating and duplicating until we have them at circular position.


Step 19

Add circles and stars on top and bottom..


Step 20

Duplicate and then rotate them 45°.


5. Combine All Shapes as Pattern

Step 1

Let's combine all these three shapes as a pattern. We'll start with the smallest one.


Step 2

Hide background by clicking on its eye icon. Make sure the small shape is revealed and the other is hidden. Hit Command/Ctrl-A and then Command/Ctrl-Shift-C to copy all visible layers.


Step 3

Paste on to the canvas as new layer, hit Command/Ctrl-V. Rename the layer as S, for small.


Step 4

Hit Command/Ctrl-T, from the Options Bar set its position to coordinate 0, 125.


Step 5

Duplicate the layer (Command/Ctrl-J) and then hit Command/Ctrl-T. Set it position to 250, 125.


Step 6

Duplicate again. This time place it at 125, 0.


Step 7

Duplicate again and place it at 125, 250. All these object are in four layers. You may want to simplify it by selecting them and then hit Command/Ctrl-E to merge them.


Step 8

Let's work on the second shape, medium sized. Hide all layers, except the object we want to use. Select all (Command/Ctrl-A) and hit Command/Ctrl-Shift-C.


Step 9

Paste as new layer. Transform layer (Command/Ctrl-T) and then place it at 0, 0.


Step 10

Hit Command/Ctrl-J to duplicate the layer, place it at 250, 0.


Step 11

Duplicate it again and then place it at 250, 250.


Step 12

Duplicate it again and this time place it at 0, 250.


Step 13

Last object now. Hide all layers except the biggest object. Hit Command/Ctrl-Shift-C and then Command/Ctrl-V.


Step 14

Hide all group layers. This will be our geometric pattern.


Step 15

Let's save it as new pattern. We want it to be transparent, so hide Background layer. Select All (Command/Ctrl-A). Click Edit > Define Pattern. Give it a good name and then click OK.


6. Applying Pattern

Step 1

We will try to apply the pattern to a layer. Make a new empty layer. Click Edit > Fill.


This is the result. Pattern is applied onto an empty layer with grey background.


Step 2

You can also apply another pattern onto the Background to add interesting effect. Double click Background layer and then select Pattern Overlay. In this case, a pattern from this set is used with lighter background color.


Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you know how to design a seamless geometric pattern. At first, it might have seemed like a complex process, but now you know it's a combination of drawing, duplicating, and transforming objects. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and can use the techniques you learned to create your own repeating patterns in Photoshop.

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