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Polka Dots are a popular pattern style that you see everywhere. In this tutorial I will show you how to create a polka dot pattern using Adobe Photoshop.

How to Create a Polka Dot Pattern using Pattern Preview Mode

With Photoshop CC version 2021 came the new pattern preview feature. This is a great feature that makes it easier to create patterns in Photoshop.

In this tutorial I will show you how to:

  • Create a circle using the ellipse shape tool
  • Turn on Pattern Preview Mode
  • Duplicate your circle to create your polka dot pattern
  • Define a pattern in Photoshop
  • Create a digital paper template that you can easily change out the colors
  • How to use a color adjustment layer to easily change out the color of your pattern.

Create a circle using the ellipse shape tool

First, open a new document in Photoshop. For this example I used the dimensions 400 x 400 px with 300 dpi and transparent background.

Access the ellipse shape tool from the tools panel. You can click to drag out your shape or just click on the canvas and a dialogue box will open where you can input the dimensions of your circle. In this case I created a 200 x 200 px circle. Click on the circle and drag it to the center of your canvas. Photoshop will show you guides to help you center your object.

How to turn on Pattern Preview Mode

To use the pattern preview feature in Photoshop go to View > Pattern Preview. What you will see is that Photoshop will repeat your object and extend it beyond the canvas bounds. This is helpful because you can see how your object looks when it is repeated in all directions.

Currently with one circle you have a block style repeat to create the polka dot pattern you will need to duplicate your circle. One way to duplicate an object is in the layers panel by right clicking on the layer and select duplicate layer. Another way is in the canvas itself. If you hold the opt (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key and click and drag on the object it will create a duplicate. Drag this duplicate object to the corner of your canvas.

With the pattern preview still on you should see this object repeat in the 4 corners to create the polka dot pattern.

How to Save Your Pattern in Photoshop

To save your pattern go to Edit > Define pattern. This will save a swatch of your pattern inside of Photoshop that you can use with any document.

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

In the bottom of the layers click to add a pattern adjustment layer. This will bring up a dialogue box where you can select your newly created polka dot pattern from the menu. You can also access your pattern from the patterns panel. Go to Window and select Patterns to bring up the patterns panel.

To change the color of your pattern create a solid color adjustment layer and position it below your pattern layer. This will be the background color. Next duplicate the solid color adjustment layer and give it a new color. Drag it above your pattern layer in the layers panel. Right click and select create clipping mask. Your pattern will now take on this color. You can easily click on the color layer to test different color combinations for your polka dot pattern.

How to Create a Polka Dot Pattern Using the Offset Filter for Older Version of Photoshop

If you have an older version of Photoshop that doesn’t have the pattern preview mode then you will create your polka dot pattern using the offset filter. Check out the video below where I show you how to use the Offset Filter in Photoshop to create your seamless repeat pattern.

How to Use the Offset Filter

After you have created your original circle above made a duplicate. The keyboard shortcut to duplicate a layer is Cmd/Ctrl + J. With the duplicate layer selected go to Filter > Other > Offset. A dialogue box will appear will Photoshop will prompt you to convert your object to a smart object or rasterize the layer. Go ahead and click on convert to smart object.

Next, you will need to enter the offset values for horizontal and vertical offset. When considering these values take the length or width of your canvas and divide it in half. In this case our canvas was 400 px wide and 400 px high. I would need to enter 200 for both the vertical and horizontal offset.

In the Undefined Area make sure you select wrap around. This will cause your circle to repeat in the 4 corners of your canvas.

Next you can save your polka dot pattern by going to Edit > Define pattern. To test your pattern follow the steps outlined above.

If you are new to creating patterns in Photoshop then check out our complete guide to creating patterns in Photoshop.

more Photoshop Pattern Tutorials