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How to Apply Pattern Overlays Using Photoshop Layer Styles

This post is part of a series called Intro to Photoshop Layer Styles.
How to Apply Gradient Overlays Using Layer Styles in Photoshop
How to Properly Add a Stroke Using Photoshop Layer Styles
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Always wanted to use Photoshop's Pattern Overlay layer style effect, but never knew exactly where or how to start?

From what a pattern overlay is used for to how to add a pattern overlay in Photoshop, this tutorial will cover all the concepts that you need to know in order to get started.

So if you want to learn how to create a pattern overlay in Photoshop, how to create a gold pattern overlay in Photoshop, or even how to rotate a pattern overlay in Photoshop, then follow along so that in the end you can add a pattern overlay in Photoshop on your own.

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

The Uses for Pattern Overlay

Pattern Overlay is used, as the name implies, to add a pattern to a particular layer. Using Pattern Overlay in conjunction with other effects can help you create styles with depth.

example of using a pattern overlay

The Layer Styles Pattern Overlay Dialog Box

Pattern Overlay doesn't have a ton of options, but that's because it's more of an "On/Off" effect, unlike some of the others that can be manipulated to drastically change the way they look.

example of the pattern overlay settings

Blend Mode

The Blend Mode allows you to set the blending mode for your Pattern Overlay. The default setting is Normal, which simply displays a pattern on your layer. If you are unfamiliar with how all the different Blending Modes work, I highly recommend checking out the Blending Is Fun Basix tutorial.

example of the available blending modes

In the following example, you can see how changing the Blend Mode from Normal to Linear Burn makes our striped pattern turn from solid white and red into transparent and dark red.

example of using different blending modes


The Opacity slider controls how see-through our Pattern is. A smaller number here makes your Pattern Overlay more transparent, while a higher number is more opaque.

example of the opacity settings

In the following example, you can see that a lower Opacity makes our pattern slightly transparent, with the black color of the text showing through.

example of using different opacity levels


This is where you choose your pattern. Photoshop comes with a lot of default patterns, but you can also create your own.

To create your own pattern, simply open an image in Photoshop, press Control-A to select the entire canvas, and click Edit > Define Pattern. You will then find it in the list of patterns within the Pattern Overlay dialog.

The small icon next to the pattern swatch will create a new preset using the currently selected pattern.

Additionally, the Snap to Origin button will allow you to align your pattern with the layer it is applied to.

You can also click and drag in your document while the Pattern Overlay dialog is open to manually position your pattern.

example of the pattern settings

In the following example, you can see how changing the Pattern while leaving other settings unchanged affects our style.

example of using different patterns


You can resize your pattern by increasing or decreasing the Scale slider. Photoshop doesn't do a very good job at resampling patterns within the Layer Styles dialog, so it's usually best to use numbers like 10%, 25%, 50%, etc.

Checking the Link with Layer checkbox locks your pattern to the layer so that if you move your layer around later, the pattern follows. If you uncheck this box and move your layer, the pattern does not move.

example of the scale settings

In the following example, reducing the Scale of the pattern gives it more detail, because more of the pattern is showing. The effect is more prominent when using more detailed patterns.

example of using different scale values

Saving And Loading Default Settings

You can save and load default settings for each effect in the Layer Styles dialog box. When you click Make Default, Photoshop will store whatever settings are currently active as the new default settings for that effect.

When you click Reset to Default, Photoshop will then load whatever settings were last saved. This allows you to experiment and simply reload the default settings if you want to start over.

example of saving and resetting the pattern overlay settings

Grow Your Layer Styles Library

Want to build an extended Photoshop Layer Styles Library, but don't quite have the time to make them yourself? Well, if that's the case then you should definitely head over to Envato Elements, where you'll find a great selection such as these ones:

Retro Layer Styles

Give your artwork the retro treatment using these incredible-looking layer styles, which are going to turn heads no matter where you use them.

retro photoshop layer styles
Retro Photoshop Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Fabric Layer Styles

This one is another off my favorites list, since it gives your text that handmade feeling that's going to capture the viewer's attention and mind.

fabric photoshop layer styles
Fabric Photoshop Layer Styles by Envato Elements

80s Layer Styles

Give your artwork a blast from the past using this amazing 80s-inspired layer styles pack that will blow the mind of those that come in contact with it.

80s photoshop layer styles
80s Photoshop Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Expand Your Photoshop Skills

Just started out using Adobe Photoshop and feel like learning more? Well, today's your lucky day since I've put together a little list of tutorials that should keep going for the next few days!

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