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If you’re looking to add an eye-catching and dynamic design element to your Photoshop projects, you’re in the right place.

In this tutorial, we’ll guide you through the process of creating a captivating overlapping circle effect using smart objects, layer masks, and pattern fills.

This technique is not only visually appealing but also versatile, allowing you to customize the colors and scale to suit your specific design needs. So, let’s dive into the step-by-step process and create this stunning effect together.

Setting Up Your Canvas

1. Creating a New File: To start, open Photoshop and create a new file. Set the dimensions to 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels, with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Choose RGB color mode and transparent background content.

2. Shape Tool and Circle Creation: Use the shape tool (shortcut: U) to create a circle that matches the canvas size (1200 pixels by 1200 pixels). Align it to the center using guides.

3. Layer Duplication: Duplicate the circle layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and change its color to black. Adjust the scale to 90% while maintaining proportions. Repeat this process for multiple duplicate layers, reducing the scale gradually (80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%).

Creating the Overlapping Effect

4. Converting to Smart Object: Select all the circle layers, right-click, and choose \”Convert to Smart Object.\” This step allows us to apply changes uniformly to all the layers.

5. Duplicating and Placing Smart Object: Duplicate the smart object and position the duplicates in the four corners of the canvas. The two opposite corners should overlap the original circle.

6. Defining the Pattern: Go to \”Edit\” > \”Define Pattern\” to save the overlapping circle pattern.

Applying Color and Customization

7. Testing the Pattern: Create a new canvas (3600 pixels by 3600 pixels) and add a pattern fill adjustment layer. Choose the recently defined pattern.

8. Adding Color Fill Layers: Experiment with different color fill layers to achieve the desired color scheme. Use clipping masks to apply colors to the pattern.

9. Scaling the Pattern: Double-click the pattern fill layer and adjust the scale as needed. You can also reposition the pattern to align it perfectly.

Refining the Overlapping Effect

10. Creating Layer Masks: To achieve the overlapping effect, create layer masks for specific layers. For the center circle, add a layer mask and hide parts of the circle to create the desired overlap.

11. Hiding Middle Circles: For the corner circles, add layer masks and hide portions of the circles that should be overlapped by other circles. Use a brush with black foreground color to paint on the layer masks.

12. Fine-Tuning Transparency: Combine shapes of adjacent layers with layer masks to create transparent pixels between circles. This step enhances the overlapping effect.

Final Touches and Exporting

13. Saving Smart Object Changes: Open the smart object and combine shapes of adjacent layers using the \”Combine Shapes\” option with \”Subtract Front Shape.\” Save the changes and close the smart object.

14. Exporting the Pattern: Ensure your desired pattern scale is selected in the main document. Export the final pattern as a JPEG file with high quality settings.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a captivating overlapping circle effect in Photoshop using smart objects, layer masks, and pattern fills. This versatile technique allows you to explore different color schemes and adjust the scale to fit various design projects. By mastering these skills, you’ve added a valuable tool to your design arsenal. Feel free to experiment further and apply this technique to your future creative endeavors. If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to explore our other guides on pattern creation and design techniques. Happy designing!

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