Using Repeat Patterns in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial is going to show you how easy it is to fill custom shapes with repeating patterns in Adobe Photoshop. I’m using CS3 for this tutorial but it should work in any recent version.

You can have some real creative fun with Photoshop and repeat patterns. As with most things, there’s lots of different ways to use patterns in your own designs. For this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to take a repeat pattern, add it to the Photoshop pattern library and then use it to fill selections.


  • For this tutorial I’m using one of the free patterns but you can use any pattern as long as it repeats on all sides.
  • In Photoshop, Click the File menu and choose Open.
  • Select the pattern file you want to use and open it.


  • Click the Edit menu and choose Define Pattern
  • Give your pattern a name and click ok
  • You’ve now defined a pattern that you can open and use in any future design that you create. How cool is that?


  • Click the File menu and choose New
  • Choose a file size (I’m using 500px by 300px but you can choose any size.)
  • Use the elliptical marquee tool to drag a circular selection


  • Click the Edit menu and choose Fill
  • In the first dropdown box choose Pattern
  • In the second dropdown box select the pattern you want to use. You’ll probably have to scroll to the bottom of the list

When you’re done, the option window should look like this…

How to select pattern fill options in photoshop

Click the Ok button to fill your pattern. It should look something like this…

How to fill a selection with a repeat pattern in photoshop


This tutorial has only just scratched the surface. You can do so many things with patterns in Photoshop. For example, use the pen tool to create custom shapes then use layers, masks and blend modes to get impressive effects. You can also fill vector shapes and adjust the scale and transparency of the patterns. I guess we can cover some more complext stuff in future tutorials. Have fun.

7 thoughts on “Using Repeat Patterns in Adobe Photoshop

  1. Hello just saw your site I am a textile surface designer. Have trying to find a way of doing repeats. Someone told that their are tutorials. Just saw yours will try it. If you have any suggestions. For any other areas to get more information for repeats. Please let me know. I wondered if you heard about a book called adobe photoshop for textile designers. I neeed to understand photoshop. For my field repeats are very inportant . thank you God Bless.

    • Hi Carlos, there are literally tons of pattern tutorials around. Best place to start is a Google search. I haven’t seen the book you mentioned but it sounds interesting. If you buy it, let me have your thoughts. Good luck with your pattern designs :)

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