The Power of Patterns in Photoshop
By Linda Sattgast
To follow along, download the DS Journaling Lines pattern. After downloading, you’ll need to unzip it. On a Mac, double click on the zip file. In Windows, right click on the file and choose Extract All.
Photoshop Patterns can be quite powerful, IF you know how to use them. Here are all the basics, including some little known facts about patterns.
Create a Pattern Adjustment Layer
- On the Layers panel, click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Pattern. Your selected document will fill with a pattern and a dialog box will appear.
- Click on the arrow next to the pattern thumbnail to open the Pattern Picker and see the patterns.
- Click on a pattern thumbnail to apply that pattern.
Load Other Default Patterns
- Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the Pattern Picker to get a flyout menu. Additional pattern sets are listed at the bottom. Click on one of the sets to load them.
- You’ll be asked if you want to replace or append the patterns. Choose what you wish and click OK.
- The new pattern set will appear in the Pattern Picker.
- Most default patterns aren’t very useful. You can find a few that are good to use, especially with blend modes, but you really have to search, so I prefer to create my own patterns.
- To reset the patterns in the Pattern Picker, open the flyout menu and choose Reset Patterns.
- You’ll be asked if you want to replace the current patterns with the default set. Click OK.
Load 3rd Party Patterns
- To load 3rd party patterns, open the Pattern Picker flyout menu and choose Load Patterns.
- Navigate to the place on your computer where you put the DS Journaling Lines pattern. Double click on the .pat pattern file to load it.
- Choose Append, and it will appear at the end of the pattern thumbnails. There’s only one pattern in this set.
- Click on the DS Journaling Lines thumbnail to apply that pattern, and your document will fill with a series of blue lines.
- Click and drag on the document to reposition the pattern.
- Change the scale of the pattern with the scale slider or simply type in a number in the scale field to get that percent.
- Click OK to accept the pattern.
Adjust the Pattern Layer in the Layers Panel
- You can clip a pattern layer to the layer below it by choosing Layer > Create Clipping Mask from the Menu Bar.
- If you change the blend mode of the Pattern layer, you can get other effects, depending on the pattern and the layer below.
- When I changed the pattern blend mode to Overlay, I get soft white lines.
- Vivid Light gave me brighter white lines.
- Again, the effect of the blend mode will vary depending on the pattern layer and the layer below, so you just have to experiment.
- You can also reduce the opacity of the pattern layer in the Layers panel to reduce the effect.
Remove Some of the Pattern
- A Pattern adjustment layer has a mask, so you can erase some of the pattern, if you wish.
- Click on the mask thumbnail to make it active.
- Make sure the Foreground Color Chip is black. If it isn’t, press the letter X to switch the Color Chips.
- Get the Brush tool. Open the Brush Picker and choose the kind of brush you want. Depending on your desired effect, you might want a soft round brush or a hard round brush. I used a hard round brush. In Tool Options, the Mode should be Normal and Opacity and Fill 100%. On your document, brush to erase the pattern.
Pattern Options: Merge or Rasterize
- To merge a pattern with the layer below, Shift click on the layer below the pattern.
- In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Merge Layers.
- Right click on the pattern layer and choose Rasterize layer. The thumbnail will change, and you will no longer be able to edit the pattern.
- To apply the mask, right click and choose Apply Layer Mask.
- With a rasterized, or simplified, layer, you can change the color.
- Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to black over white.
- Press Alt Shift Backspace (Mac: Opt Shift Delete) to fill the lines with black.
- Lower the layer opacity to get gray lines.
Install a Pattern Set
If a pattern set is something you think you’ll use often, it might be advantageous to load it inside the program so it shows up in the flyout menu as one of the pattern choices you can quickly load. Here are the file paths:
Windows: C: > Program Files > Adobe > Adobe Photoshop (your version) > Presets > Patterns
Mac: Application > Adobe Photoshop (your version) > Presets > Patterns.