design projects

How I make seamless patterns in Photoshop (Tutorial)

making seamless patterns in photoshop

I was in the middle of turning those vintage camera doodles on the left into a seamless digital pattern for my online stores when I thought, hey this is a good time to make another tutorial. I do know how much you (yup, all 3 of you) like reading about my design process. 😉

Step 1: Doodle, scan, clean up in Photoshop (I’m still using a Jurassic CS3 so if you’re using a newer version, you can disregard this entire blog post huhuhu). Some points to remember:

  • save your doodles in grayscale, TIFF format
  • clean it up, erase all pencil marks, close all broken lines
  • once clean, make another layer for your doodles and change the mode from grayscale to bitmap then change it back to grayscale (this will allow you to easily select and remove the white background)

Step 2: Create a new file for your pattern. I usually start with a 1500px x 1500px file. Paste your cleaned-up doodles into that file and arrange them however you like on the page.

Step 3: Add color to your drawings.

making seamless patterns in photoshop

  • make separate layers for the background, outline, and fill color(s) so you can easily make variant colorways in the future
  • once you’re happy with the colors, duplicate all the layers and place one “untouched” set in a folder and turn off the “eye” symbol to make it invisible for now
  • important: leave the background as a separate layer

Step 4: Merge the outline and fill layers of your drawing.

how to make a seamless pattern in photoshop

  • an additional precautionary step I take is to select the entire file and then go to Image > Crop in the dropdown. This way, tiny pixels that could mess up the next step will be eliminated.

Step 5: Select the merged layer and choose Filter > Other > Offset1. Type in a number that’s half of your document size in the pop-up. Since my file is 1500px x 1500px, I typed in 750 for both horizontal and vertical instances. Your drawings will scatter to the edges.

how to make a seamless pattern in photoshop

  • remember to tick “wraparound” in the popup box
  • check to see if the images in the corners will connect with one another without gaps. This is why the “Crop” command I added in Step 4 is important. Sometimes tiny, hardly visible pixels will throw the alignment off.

Step 6: Remember I told you to make a duplicate layer for the drawings? Turn on the “eye” symbol and make it visible. Take the duplicate versions of the drawings and arrange them randomly to fill up the blank spaces. This is now your “Master” file. Save it as a .PSD so you can do edits later.

how to make a seamless pattern

  • I like to flip and scale the duplicate drawings to give the pattern a (in breathy voice) casually-thrown-together look. 😉
  • see how I’ve left the background color as a separate layer? This way I can easily change it to make a variant of the pattern.

Step 7: Time to test your pattern. Select the entire page and go to Edit > Define Pattern. Type a name for your pattern in the pop-up.

Step 8: Make a new document in US Letter or A4 size (it really doesn’t matter). Create a layer, select it and go to Layer > Layer Style > Pattern Overlay. Select the pattern you just made in the Pattern palette that pops up.

making seamless patterns in photoshop

Step 9: Inspect your pattern and watch out for elements that don’t align or are too close to one another. Edit your master file accordingly and repeat steps 6-8.

making a seamless pattern in photoshop

Step 10: Once you’re happy with the pattern, save your square master file as a JPEG. You can now use that to make fabric patterns in Spoonflower or Zazzle and make some extra pocket money.

how to make a seamless pattern in photoshop

I’ve yet to upload it to my stores (since I was *ahem* busy making this tutorial) but I do hope you’ll find this post useful. :)

UPDATE: Now available on fabric, wrapping paper, ribbons, and other fun items on Zazzle.

  1. if you’re using a different version of Photoshop, it might be located under a different dropdown[ back]
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Watercolor flowers alphabet, art cards, and pet portraits update

Here’s something I’ve been laboring on this past couple of weeks — a watercolor version of my floral alphabet. Progress has been verrry slow but that’s also because I haven’t been working on it as often as I should because I’m lazy because I keep finding other things I want to do1  According to my Instagram, I started working on the alphabet on Feb. 1st. And here’s where I am so far.
watercolor flowers alphabet font letters
(Do you lefties also paint from right to left?)

Hopefully posting it here will push me to finish it… OKAY. This time next week it *will* be done — I promise you, Universe!

I’m also thrilled to show you the proofs of my art cards.

art prints cynthia bauzon arre

I had them printed on 250 gsm lightly-textured archival & eco-friendly card stock so they’re sturdy and very nice to the touch. Although I had to slightly adjust the colors on my files because they printed darker than I expected, I’m very happy with how they turned out. Once the final prints arrive you can bet that I will open that shop I’ve been promising (myself, more than anyone else actually. :) )

***
And finally here’s my lovely friend (one of my bridesmaids!) April with the portraits of her Shiba dogs Mya and King. I just had to show you (with her permission of course) how happy she is with the drawings. :)

shiba inu custom watercolor portraits by cynthia bauzon arre

Mya (orange) is 6 and King (black) is 4 years old.  There are still very few Shiba inu parents here in the Philippines and April is among the few so if you’re considering owning one yourself, do check out her blog Owned by a Shiba.2

  1. like watch TV. I just started Karamazov no Kyoudai, the Japanese drama adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov and it’s got me hooked.[ back]
  2. It hasn’t been updated in a while but there’s a lot of detailed information on there about caring for and rearing Shiba Inus.[ back]
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Custom Pet Portraits + I Love My Cat

I’d like to to share one of my latest projects, something I never thought I would do since I’ve never really drawn animals other than cats and birds before: custom portraits of my friend April’s Shiba Inus! When she first asked me I wasn’t sure if I could do it so I made this colored pencil sketch of her two Shibas sitting side by side. For practice.
custom pet portraits by cynthia bauzon arre
Obviously I got the proportions all wrong. 😳 Anyway, working on the sketch allowed me to familiarize myself with their features and markings so I eventually felt more at ease drawing them. I think it also helped that Shiba dogs look somewhat “feline”1 with their upright ears and almond-shaped upward-slanting eyes.

And then I made individual portraits, taking into account each of their distinct attributes — for instance a slightly crooked ear for one of them which was from an operation, etc — for a more personal touch. I was confident enough to use watercolor this time. I don’t typically use blacks for coloring but the black and tan Shiba variety called for it and I was quite happy with how they turned out and thankfully, so was their mom. :)
custom pet portraits cynthia bauzon arre
These were so fun to do and once I get more dog-drawing practice under my belt, I’ll likely add animal portraits to my custom artwork repertoire. (I will have to draw the line at pet reptiles though… 😯 )
***
Meanwhile.. it’s no secret that I love our cat. In fact he’s right there in my blog logo illustration which I haven’t changed for years. He’s also in my still-non-existent handmade store’s logo (see watermark) and in a lot of drawings I’ve done and even in some of Arnold‘s comics as an Easter egg to friends who know us well.

There was one day last week when my mind hit a blank and I couldn’t start working. He was lying on his play mat in front of me and, as if sensing my anxiety, started rolling around playfully. I could never resist when he does that so I went over and gave him a chin and back rub. He looked so content and carefree that I felt like preserving that moment. Without thinking I started sketching him. He kept moving around while I tried capturing all his poses and that was the birth of the series of illustrations below (right) which I ended up turning into a pattern (left).
pet portraits

It’s still being proofed over at Spoonflower but if you like cats too, my orange tabbies pattern is now available on phone covers, iPad sleeves, and more at Zazzle and RedBubble.

  1. for me at least[ back]
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Shrink Plastic: Before and After

shrink plastic before and after

Thought I’d share this before and after image of the shrink plastic “Sampayan” (“Laundry Line”) necklace I made the other day. See how those drawings shrunk down to about 1/4th of their original size? They also grew about a millimeter in thickness and the colors got more saturated. Here’s a closer view:

I used Frosted “Ruff and Ready” Shrinky Dinks Shrinkable Plastic sheets to make these charms. My favorite thing about these sheets is that one side has already been machine-sanded so I can draw directly on them with colored pencils. The other side is glossy and when it shrinks, there’s no more need to coat the front with glaze. I don’t know if you can see it in the pic but I love how nice and glossy they are. It’s almost like these charms were cast in resin.

***
Another reason for this blog update is to announce that one of my designs is featured on RedBubble’s front page among the curators’ picks for the day. #kilig

hipsters pattern

The Cool Kids” on FOUND by RB

If you’re interested, you can also purchase this design on iPhone covers on RedBubble, and on wristlets, wallets, and even plates (yes) on Zazzle @ Funky Patterns. And for you crafty cats, fabric printed with this pattern (on either a pink or blue background) is also available starting today in my Spoonflower store. If you ever get to use it on your projects, please upload a photo of your finished project on there ok? :)

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Keeping Busy + Adventures in Shrinking Plastic

What I’ve been working on:

1. New patterns for my Spoonflower store (these are still being proofed so this is a sneaky peek) —

surface pattern design by cynthia bauzon arre

2. A new wedding invitation set featuring stylish animals —

(You can see all the elements of the entire collection here)

3. More custom couple cartoons. (Nothing to show here yet as they’re still in the drafts stage but I’ll update the other blog once the drawings have been finalized.)

And as you may have seen on my Instagram feed,

4. Shrink plastic jewelry

I’ve been wanting to make accessories for the longest time. In fact I have an unused box full of jewelry findings hoarded from the Kamuning Market when we were planning our wedding… yes, it’s been that long! However, there’s so much competition and I didn’t know what I could do that would showcase what I can do best so i focused on other things. Until I discovered shrinky dinks — thanks to wedding blogging actually. Some of my brides would talk about shrinky-dinking stuff and I was all like “shrinky-WHAT-ing?”1

After much Googling and Youtube-ing I learned that specially made plastic can shrink into a harder & thicker version of itself if you stick it in a regular toaster oven. A little light bulb lit up in my head — what if I shrink my illustrations and make them into few-of-a-kind jewelry charms? Of course I still had no idea then that I was already late to the game and that there’s already a whole movement devoted to shrink plastic jewelry on Etsy. [insert embarrassed emoji here]

Still, I ordered a pack of Shrinky Dinks sheets from Amazon. That would take at least a week to arrive and I couldn’t wait anymore so when I learned that I can also shrink #6 plastic (essentially, plastic used for take-out containers) and yay, we had one on hand2, I did this experiment, again documented on Instagram.

My shrinky dink-brand sheets (as well as a few unbranded ones) arrived in late December but I couldn’t play with them until this week. I got several types — white, clear, rough and ready – so I tried different combinations. Frosted sheets with colored pencils, white with sharpies. Here’s what came out of that experiment.

In the photo below you can see how big the original artwork is compared to the miniature version. You’ll notice that this time I printed my vector illustrations directly on the plastic sheet.

shrinkydinks jewelry

Some pieces already look good but I have yet to perfect shrinking the plastic without forming dents in the miniatures. This is all still a work in progress and I will update you once I come up with designs that I am completely happy with.

  1. Not sure if art schools here are using it now but I’ve never encountered the stuff.[ back]
  2. it had cake on it which I quickly, um, got rid off [ back]
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On custom couple illustrations…

custom couple vector illustration

A custom couple illustration + wedding invite design for my friend Nyel and her hubby Val. (Photo by First Comes Rock.)

Last year I took the plunge and started accepting custom couple illustration requests for save the dates and wedding invitations over at my wedding blog. It was something I’ve been thinking of offering on the site for a few years now but I kept getting cold feet. Partly because I hear horror stories about custom work from my other designer friends, and also because I know how it is to be a bride-sometimes-zilla myself. I decided to go for it anyway and now, 6 months and more than a dozen couple portraits later, I’m actually glad that I did. Not only have I met such wonderful non-‘zilla-at-all clients (um, #blessed), I’m also able to flex my vector-crafting muscles and of course make some Christmas money on the side. 😉

I just updated the other blog so if you like you can now see some of the cartoon couples I’ve done. (GO)

Eventually I will accept hand-drawn couple portrait commissions for weddings too but right now I’d like to focus on these cartoons. :)

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I'm Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, a Filipino illustrator, graphic designer, and craft hobbyist. I live in QC with my talented graphic novelist hubby Arnold and our friendly marmalade tabby Abbas. This blog has been chronicling my life, likes, and loves since 2001. [ more ]

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