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Quatrefoil patterns, with their elegant and timeless charm, have graced various art forms and architectural designs throughout history. Derived from the French word “quatre,” meaning “four,” and “foil,” referring to a leaf or petal shape, the quatrefoil pattern is characterized by its symmetrical arrangement of four overlapping circles or lobes. In this guide I am going to show you how to create a quatrefoil pattern in Photoshop.

Create your Quatrefoil Pattern

Open Photoshop and click to create a new document. For this tutorial I use the dimensions 400 x 400 px with resolution set to 300 dpi, RGB color mode and transparent background.

From the tools panel select the ellipse shape tool. The keyboard shortcut to access the shape tool is U and then to navigate between the various shape option click Shift + U.

Click on the canvas and this will bring up the dialogue box. Considering the size of your canvas create your circle half the size of the canvas. In this case I want my circle to be 200 x 200 px in size. Click ok and the circle will appear on your canvas.

With the shape tool still selected go to the top menu and set fill to no fill and stroke to black and size to 15 px.

Next we want to align the circle to the top center of the canvas. To do this access your marquee tool (M – keyboard shortcut). Select cmd/ctrl + A to select all and then access the move tool (V – keyboard shortcut). This will bring up the align options in the top menu. Select to center it horizontally and then align to the top of the canvas.

In the layers panel right click to duplicate your circle. With the pixels still selected click to align this circle to the bottom of the canvas.

Once aligned you can deselect your pixels by hitting cmd/ctrl + D.

In the layers panel shift + click to select both layers and then right click to duplicate layers. Click to begin rotating the two selected layers and in the top menu options type in 90 degrees and click on the check mark to accept the changes.

Next you will want to select all four layers in the layers panel. Open your properties panel (Window > Properties) and scroll to the bottom and under pathfinder select the first option to combine the shapes. Back in the layers panel with all 4 layers selected right click and select merge shapes. This will cause them to combine and now you should only see the outline of the shapes.

How to define your pattern

To define the quatrefoil pattern click on Edit > Define Pattern. This will save the pattern in Photoshop.

To test your new pattern go ahead and open a new document. For this example I use the dimensions of digital scrapbook paper which is 3600 x 3600 px at 300 dpi.

In the layers panel click to add a pattern fill layer. Click to select your newly created pattern.

To change the color of your pattern you can add a solid color fill layer and then right click to create a clipping mask. Using an adjustment layer offers an easy way to change up the color of your pattern. Create an additional solid color fill layer underneath the pattern to change the background color.

How to create a Barbed Quatrefoil Pattern

A barbed quatrefoil pattern is a variation of the traditional quatrefoil design that features pointed, barb-like extensions at the end of each lobe. These barbs add a distinctive and slightly edgier element to the quatrefoil motif, creating an intriguing visual effect. The barbed quatrefoil pattern is a fascinating variation that showcases the adaptability and versatility of the quatrefoil motif, infusing it with an extra level of visual interest and symbolism.

Returning to your original document you will create a square using the rectangular shape tool. Click and drag your square out. In this case I made a square 284 x 284 px, but you can try out different sizes of squares. In the top menu change fill to no fill and add a stroke with a stroke width of 15 px to match the original circle we created.

Next align the square to the canvas. Access the marquee tool (M – keyboard) and select all (cmd/ctrl + A). Using the move tool (V – keyboard) navigate to the top menu and use the align tool to center it vertically and horizontally. Click to select both layers and then right click to merge shapes. This will create the barbed quatrefoil look. Next save your pattern by going to Edit > Define pattern.

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