Basics of Pattern Design in Photoshop (Introduction - 4 Video Tutorials)

Just a heads up! All of the videos will play at once when the page loads, so you'll need to pause the other video tutorials (except for the one you want to watch)

Before we get started, just a bit of housekeeping:


This ecourse is copyright © 2013 to present by Rachael Wynn, owner and Designer of AllAboutTheHouse Printables and PaperCravings. All rights reserved.

No part of this ecourse may be shared, given away for free, reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise.

I will not hesitate to proceed with legal action for anyone that copies, steals, gives away for free etc. my intellectual property (the contents of this ecourse). Please respect the time it has taken to learn the skills I will teach you and to create this ecourse.

Now that we're clear on that, let's get started!

Why Photoshop?

You can make patterns either Photoshop or Illustrator (both are software created by Adobe). I personally prefer to use Photoshop as I find it easier to use, with a less steep learning curve. If you don’t already have Photoshop, it’s only $10/month and you can purchase here (this is my affiliate link, when you purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you – thank you for supporting my business! :)

Illustrator is better for creating patterns using your own hand-drawn sketches. In this ecourse I’ll be showing you how to make patterns using shapes (computer graphics, not your own hand drawings), which I have personally found to be easier to do in Photoshop. This ecourse will show you how to make patterns in Photoshop. There are no tutorials on how to make patterns in illustrator.

Go to edit > menus and make sure you have all of Photoshop's default menus (shown below)

If you want to add a menu, go to window and select that menu from the dropdox menu (so that it has a tick next to it)

TIP: Make sure you have the 'snap' tool on. You can do this by going to the view menu and ticking 'snap' then making sure grids, guides etc. are ticked.

I also recommend turning on rulers (press CTRL and R) on your keyboard to turn them off an on, or select them from the 'view' menu.



This is what a pattern template is called. It contains the pattern in a solid color with the background transparent (you must save it in png file format to keep this transparent background). The main difference between an overlay and a digital paper is this transparent background (rather than white, for example), as this means you can add your own colors to both the overlay layer and the background to create digital paper.

Overlays can come in either PNG file format or PSD (Photoshop file format). If an overlay you want to purchase is only offered in PNG file format – don’t stress, it just means you need to create a new file in Photoshop, then drag and drop the overlay onto the template, and add a solid color to use. If you choose to sell your overlays, make sure you saved them as PNG file format, as this type of file can be used in other image editing programs such as Gimp (which is like a free version of Photoshop) and even Microsoft Word!

Digital paper

Usually in JPG file format. This is the end result of what you make using an overlay. Essentially you add a solid color to the transparent areas of the overlay to create a digital paper.

PNG versus JPG

PNG – if you have areas on your template with a transparent background (i.e. the area you will add a color to, to create a background on your pattern), then save it as a png file format.

If you save it as a JPG file format, you will lose the transparent background (this area of the pattern will save with a white background instead)

Px = Pixels
Cm = centimetres
In = inches


Artlandia has a helpful glossary of pattern names. The most common patterns you are likely to come across are:

  • Chevrons
  • Polka Dots
  • Stripes
  • Quatrefoil
  • Gingham

I'll teach you how to make these popular patterns in this ecourse!

Page Size

12 x 12 is the standard page size for digital paper (as people used to use them for digital scrapbooking and still do, but it is more common to use them to create things like printables). 8.5 x 11”is also a common size.

Here is a handy infographic showing a visual of different page sizes

Note that 8.5 x 11” is equivalent to US letter size paper. This is different to A4 size page. A4 size paper is 21cm x 29.7cm or 8.27 x 11.69” (i.e. it is longer and thinner than US letter size or 8.5 x 11” size paper).

I recommend using 12 x 12” as you can crop the page down to any size you like. You want to start with a bigger pattern and trim it down, because if you start with a smaller size and increase it, the image will become blurry. A larger size also ensures the pattern extends beyond the edge of the page so you won’t risk having white gaps at the edge of the page (for example, if someone was using your digital paper to make something in PowerPoint or Microsoft Word).

If you are getting a lot of requests for 8.5 x 11” and you choose to create your patterns in this size, sell it WITH the 12 x 12” version. People will have a hard time distinguishing between each of your listings, you create double the work for yourself by having to make a new image (or tweak the 12 x 12” preview image) because if you use the same image you will confuse people as they will be seeing double!

Here’s how to crop a 12 x 12” down to letter size (or any other size that you want)


  • If you want to re-size something without is being distorted (e.g. stretched, squished or becomes rectangular when you want a square), hold down the shift key
  • Ctrl and Z to undo
  • When creating new patterns, always stick to even numbers e.g. 300px not 301px
  • 3600px x 3600px is the same size as 12" x 12" and 300px x 300px is the same as 1" x 1"
  • Make sure the move tool is selected, then press CTRL and ALT, then click on a shape to move it (I find this method quicker than trying to find the shape layer in the layers menu)

Complete and Continue