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Learn how to create a seamless repeating pattern in Adobe Photoshop. In this guide I will show you how to create a polka dot style pattern. For this tutorial we are going to create an open circle polka dot pattern using the stroke feature in Photoshop.

Do you want the multi-color options for this pattern?

Check out our Polka Dot Open Circles multi-color pattern set for Photoshop.

Setting up your 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.

Next, to create the circle you will need to use the ellipse shape tool. The keyboard shortcut for the shape tools is – U. To toggle between the various shape tool you will want to hit Shift + U.

Using the ellipse shape tool you can click and then drag out your circle. If you just click on the canvas then the dialogue box will appear to enter your desired width and height. For this tutorial I created a circle 150 x 150 px.

To create the open circle in the top menu click to set your fill to no fill and select a stroke color. Next, you can change your stroke width to 12 px. Photoshop also gives you the option to change the stroke type from solid line and dotted.

Once you have your stroke options set using the move tool center your circle.

Next, you will want to duplicate your circle, but before you do that I recommend converting your circle to a smart object. Whenever you are going to duplicate an element it is best to turn it into a smart object. If you ever want to go back and make any changes then you can edit the smart object and any changes will also be made to your duplicates. To convert it to a smart object right click on your circle layer and select – convert to smart object.

If you want to edit your smart object just double click on the layer icon and it will bring up your smart object in a new tab to make any edits.

Now that you have converted your shape into a smart object in the layers panel you can right click on the layer and select duplicate layer or use the keyboard shortcut – Cmd/Ctrl + J.

Creating a repeat pattern

To make a repeating pattern in Photoshop there are a number of ways to do it. In the video I demonstrate using the offset filter. With your circle selected go to Filter > Other > Offset. A dialogue box will appear. For the width and height offset you need to enter a value that is half the width and height of your canvas. In this case our canvas is 400 x 400 px so the offset values would be 200 px height and 200 px width.

In the Undefined area section make sure wrap around is selected. This will cause the circle to repeat in all the 4 corners.

To save the pattern to Photoshop go to Edit > Define pattern. You will now be able to access the pattern from the patterns panel. To bring up the patterns panel go to Window > Patterns. You can also define a pattern by clicking on the plus icon in the patterns panel.

Another tool you can use in Photoshop to create a repeating pattern is the pattern preview tool. Instead of using the offset filter. Click on View > Pattern Preview. This will cause your canvas to extend both vertically and horizontally and you will see your object continually repeat in all directions. When you position the circle into the corner it will automatically repeat. While pattern preview mode is turned on go to Edit > Define pattern. When you turn pattern preview mode off, you will notice that your circle will no longer be repeated. You will need to duplicate your circle and add it to each of the 4 corners manually if you want to have it repeating on your canvas.

I have created some Photoshop Actions for pattern design that you can check out which make this step much quicker.

Testing Your Pattern

To test your pattern I like to create a new document the size of digital scrapbook paper – 3600 x 3600 px at 300 dpi.

From the patterns panel you can click on your newly created pattern and drag it into the layers panel. This will automatically create a pattern adjustment layer. When you double click on this layer you can easily change the scale of your pattern. When this dialogue box is open you can also change the position of your pattern on the canvas. Just click on the canvas to drag your pattern around. If you want to get back to the original orientation click on Snap to Origin.

To change the color of your pattern I like to use a Color fill adjustment layer. In the bottom of the layers panel click to add a color fill adjustment layer. Position this layer below your pattern fill layer. This will be the background color. Duplicate this layer (Cmd or Ctrl + J) and drag the duplicate layer above your pattern fill layer. Right click on this layer and select – Create clipping mask. Your pattern should now take on the color of this layer. If you want to change the color double click on the color fill layer and make a new color selection.

Looking for more Pattern Design Tutorials?