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How to Create and Apply a Tropical Seamless Pattern in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Summer heat in a tropical paradise! What could be better? In this tutorial we’ll create our own tropical pattern, making it seamless and discovering several ways of applying our pattern! We’ll be using basic geometric shapes as well as some default custom shapes, creating fancy objects in a few clicks and making them detailed with the help of texture brushes. 

Patterns and textures surround us everywhere in our daily life. They are used in web design and for print materials, they decorate our clothes and walls, and they are used for wrapping paper and many other purposes. 

In this tutorial we’ll be creating a nature-inspired texture. By the end of the lesson you’ll be able to create any other kind of pattern in the same style, whether it is a floral seamless pattern or birthday pattern, food wrapping pattern, or anything else. If you wish to enhance your skills by creating a variety of textures, be sure to check out Envato Market for inspiration, and then be ready to start!

1. Use Basic and Custom Shapes to Draw Tropical Elements

Step 1

Let’s start by making a New File of 2000 x 2000 px size. We’re making the file big enough to be used for print, if needed.

make a new file

Step 2

Let’s take the Ellipse Tool (U) and start making a pineapple. Make a 550 x 660 px bright oval of yellow color. You can adjust the size of the shape and its fill color in the Properties panel (Window > Properties).

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the bottom anchor point and drag the anchor handles, making them longer and so making the bottom of the pineapple a bit flatter.

make a pineapple from ellipse

Step 3

Now we’ll shape the top, or the “crown”, of the pineapple. Continue using the Ellipse Tool (U) to make a 70 x 400 px oval, filling it with turquoise-green color.

Take the Convert Point Tool (in the same drop-down menu as the Pen Tool) and click the bottom and top anchor points to make the tips of the shape pointed.

make a leaf from ellipse

Step 4

Now let’s bend the shape. Press Control-T for Free Transform Path. Click the right mouse button and select Warp. Head to the control panel on top and open the drop-down menu to select the Arc effect. We need our shape to be bent to the left, so let’s click Change the warp orientation and set the Bend value to 30.

Looking good! Press Enter to apply the effect.

bend the shape with warp arc

Step 5

Press Control-T for Free Transform Path and rotate the leaf, attaching it to the pineapple. Apply the transformation and press Control-J to make a copy of the leaf layer. Make it a bit larger, using Free Transform Path, and attach it above the first leaf. Make another leaf, changing its size as well.

Select all three leaves, duplicate (Control-J) them and apply Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to mirror the shapes to the opposite side. Finish up with the top of the pineapple, attaching the leaves to each other and putting a vertical leaf in the center.

form the crown of the pineapple

Step 6

Now we need to make our pineapple editable in order to add details to it. Select the yellow shape layer in the Layers panel, click the right mouse button and Rasterize Layer. After rasterizing the shape, we won’t be able to change its size without quality loss anymore. However, it allows us to work with brushes and the Eraser Tool (E).

Rasterize layer

Step 7

Let’s depict stylized scales or segments above our pineapple. We’ll be using a Clipping Mask so that we can easily undo or redo any action, working in a non-destructive way.

Select the yellow shape layer in the Layers panel and click Add vector mask at the bottom of the panel.

Now arm yourself with the Pen Tool (P) and make a diagonal line across the pineapple while holding Shift.

use Pen Tool P and make a diagonal line across the pineapple

Step 8

Select the Clipping Mask in the Layers panel and select black Fill color in the Color panel. 

Take the Brush Tool (B) and click the right mouse button to open the list of brushes. Select any round textured brush to your liking. I’m using the Hard Round 9 #1 brush from the default M Brushes set.

Switch back to the Pen Tool (P), click the right mouse button on the Artboard and select Stroke Path. Set the Tool to Brush and click OK to make a textured stroke. As you can see, the vector line made with the Pen Tool (P) is still visible too.

This way we’re actually making a gap, erasing a part of the pineapple, using the Clipping Mask.

apply Stroke Path 1

Step 9

Draw a new diagonal line with the Pen Tool (P) or select the existing vector path with the Move Tool (V) and press Control-T for Free Transform Path. Move the line down. Press Enter to apply the transformation, and then take the Pen Tool (P) and click the right mouse button to Stroke Path.

Continue moving the line down and Stroke Path, adding more blank textured strokes across the pineapple.

apply Stroke Path 2

Step 10

When you've finished covering the pineapple with strokes, select our vector path and Edit > Transform Points > Flip Horizontal to mirror it horizontally. 

Now repeat the same action with Stroke Path to add overlapping lines across the pineapple.

add overlapping lines across the pineapple

Step 11

Switch to the Brush Tool (B) and use the same brush to add short strokes or dots in every cell. Remember to draw on the Clipping Mask layer.

Now that the base of our pineapple is ready, Group (Control-G) the elements.

add details with brush

Step 12

Now let’s shape a simple palm leaf for our tropical pattern. Take the Ellipse Tool (U) and make an 80 x 700 px oval on a new layer. Use the Convert Point Tool to make the top and bottom parts of the oval pointed.

shape a simple palm leaf from ellipses 1

Step 13

Now press Alt-Control-T for Free Transform Path. Click the pivot point in the center of the leaf and drag it down, placing it on the bottom tip of the shape. As you may notice, a copy of the shape will be created in the Layers panel after you move the pivot point. That’s exactly what we need, and it works only when you use Alt-Control-T for transformation.

Now we can rotate the copy of the leaf. Press Enter to apply the transformation, and keep pressing Shift-Control-Alt-T to make more rotated copies. This is the fastest way to create equally rotated and transformed copies automatically.

rotate the leaf

Step 14

Select all the shapes and duplicate (Control-J) them. Apply Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to mirror the shapes to the opposite side, forming a big palm leaf. You can add a few smaller pieces at the bottom to fill the blank spaces. Group (Control-G) all the parts in order to keep your layers neat and organized.

shape the palm leaf from copies

Step 15

Now that we have a couple of elements for our tropical pattern, let’s see the easiest way of adding more of those. Take the Custom Shape Tool (U) and open the drop-down list of shapes in the control panel on top. Here you can find a great variety of flowers and leaves, which suit our theme perfectly. Pick shapes to your liking and combine them with each other, varying their colors and sizes.

use custom shapes to add flowers and leaves

2. Apply Textures to the Elements

Step 1

Let’s start with our pineapple. Select the yellow shape layer in the Layers panel and Lock transparent pixels on top of the panel. This allows us to paint over the shape with the brush, without affecting any blank areas inside or outside the object. Let’s see how it works!

Select a dry grungy brush, such as Dry Brush 1#2 from the default M Brushes set, or try some textured brushes from the Envato Market, for example these Chalk Scattering Brushes.

Select orange color and start painting over the bottom of the pineapple, gradually making it darker.

paint over the pineapple with textured brush

Step 2

Let’s do the same for the crown or top of the pineapple. First of all, Merge (Control-E)  the green leaves of the crown together and Rasterize them by clicking the merged layer with right mouse button in the Layers panel.

Now we can Lock transparent pixels and paint over the shape, making it slightly textured by adding a touch of dark green at the bottom and making its top lighter.

paint over the pineapple with textured brush 2

Step 3

Let’s apply the same technique to the palm leaf. Select the group of green elements and Layer > Merge Group. Be sure that the layer is rasterized and Lock transparent pixels in the Layers panel. Use a dry textured brush to make the leaf more detailed and intricate.

paint over the palm leaf with textured brush

Step 4

Now let’s color one of the flowers, using a different technique. We won’t be rasterizing it this time. Let’s select the flower layer in the Layers panel, hold Alt and click Create a new layer.

In the pop-up dialog window, tick the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask checkbox to link a new layer to the flower layer.

Now we can use a linked layer to paint over the flower, without crossing its edges.

Group (Control-G) the flower layers together, keeping your artwork organized.                        

apply textures in the linked layer

Step 5

Use one of the previous techniques to your liking to color all the rest of the elements, making them textured and detailed.

color all the rest elements

3. Compose a Seamless Pattern With Tropical Elements

Step 1

Select the Background layer in the Layers panel and fill it with light blue. Let’s start arranging our elements around the canvas.

fill the background with light-blue color

Step 2

Duplicate (Control-J) the elements, rotate them and mirror (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) to make the pattern versatile, adding a playful rhythm to it. Use the Custom Shape Tool (U) to add more flowers in order to make the elements look different.

arrange the elements on the canvas

Step 3

Now let’s see how we can actually make our pattern seamless. As you may notice, some of the elements cross the left edge of the Artboard. Select the element (or group of elements) that is crossing the edge, duplicate (Control-J) it and press Control-T for Free Transform.

Head to the control panel on top and find the Horizontal and Vertical positions, marked as X and Y. You will see some values, defining the position of our objects. Click the triangle button to Use relative positioning for reference point, this way setting the values to zero. Now type 2000 (which is equal to the width of our Artboard) in the Horizontal position value, thus moving the selected objects 2000 px to the right. Press Enter to apply the transformation.

copy and move the objects

Step 4

Do the same for the objects, crossing the top edge of the canvas. Duplicate (Control-J) the elements, press Control-T and type 2000 (which is the height of our Artboard) in the Vertical position value, this way moving the element 2000 px down.

If you need to move the objects in opposite directions, use negative values (-2000) to move the elements from bottom to the top or from the right side to the left.

copy and move the objects 2

Step 5

Add some minor custom shapes to fill the blank spaces of our pattern. I’ve used contrast color combinations for new elements, such as green with a touch of pink or red and yellow. I like how it looks with a dry textured brush, adding a playful and diverse look to our pattern.

Add minor custom shapes

Step 6

Try adding textured colorful stains to other elements of our pattern: palm leaves, the top of the pineapple, flowers, and so on. This will make your pattern look unique. 

 add textured colorful stains to other elements

Step 7

Now that we’re happy with our pattern, with the position of the elements and their colors, let’s see how we can save our pattern and apply it to any custom shape.

Go to Edit > Define Pattern and give your pattern a proper name in the pop-up dialog box.

Define Pattern and give your pattern a proper name

Step 8

Now, if we take the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and head to the control panel on top, we can set the fill option to Pattern and find our pattern in the drop-down list. From here, we can either click the tiny cog icon and use Save Patterns or open the Preset Manager and Save our pattern from there.

save our pattern

Step 9

Now there are several options that we can use to apply our newly created pattern. We can use the Rectangular or Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to define a selected area and apply a Pattern Fill with the help of the Paint Bucket Tool (G).

Apart from that, we can use the Custom Shape Tool (U) to create any custom shape and apply a Pattern Fill from the control panel on top. From here, we can also adjust the Scale of our pattern.

apply pattern to custom shapes

Step 10

Last but not least, we can create a New File of larger size, make a New Layer and use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) to fill all the Artboard with our tropical pattern!

apply pattern to whole artboard

Voila! Our Tropical Seamless Pattern Is Ready!

Great job! We’ve finished creating our fancy summer textured pattern with tropical elements. I hope this tutorial brought you a sunny mood and helped you to discover some new tips and tricks which will be useful for your future artworks!

Feel free to apply these simple techniques, creating new patterns and textures, which can be used as web backgrounds, for print, fabric, wrapping paper and any other purpose!

Have fun!

Tropical Seamless Pattern is Ready
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