I wanted to document my processes on how I make a repeat, it was something I learnt quite late really using Photoshop as my primary application, although I did have a go with illustrator too. Photoshop is my preferred method because I have managed to make it a quick and easy process for myself.
I start off by creating a square canvas which will be my grid, I tend to go for a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid or 2000 if I am working for pattern contest as it effects the preview of my design when I add to for the contest.
I then add the motifs that I want to use into the tile, and separate them into little groups, so I have a couple of different hare designs, a couple of foxes, some trees, pinecones, and leaves. These can also be utilised as flipped motifs, just flipping the design can change the effect of it and make it look like a different motif. I am going to be going for a busy hero design in this example.
First of all I sort out my edges, so hang some motifs over the edges, being careful that they do not form a straight line down the side of the tile, so you can see the fox is only missing a tiny bit of tail but the hare is missing half a body. I sometimes will put a motif right in the corner but on this occasion I think I could do without it. If a piece is put in the corner it must be repeated into each of the corners.
The next step is to repeat the designs on the other side of the tile, so that when several of these tiles are put above and below it, they will all link and look seamless. So I click on one of the motifs, usually starting from the top side piece, and duplicate the layer, this puts an exact copy of this motif in the same place. I then select the copy, and go to Filter then Other then Offset. This will move the motif to where you want to for you, which is great for precise numbers. Because I want it to go exactly the same height at the other side of the tile, I need to use the horizontal control on the offset. Because my canvas was 2000 x 2000, I need that motif to move 2000 pixels to the right. This now shows the part that is missing from the motif on the left, coming in from the right. This process is repeated for all the motifs on the side, then the ones along the top. Watch for any overlaps or bad looking placement at this point, because they do have to be done again to ensure both of the matching motifs are in the same place. I use the set to transparent option on the offset menu, as if I let it wrap around, I get a weird glitch where the motifs think the canvas is larger than it is. I used to make repeats by putting my motifs in the middle of the screen then offsetting them as wrap around objects, so the motifs would literally be split into two, which did make it harder for me to play around with placement.
I then fill in the rest of the motifs in the gaps where I see them fitting, this is a lot of resizing, playing around and fitting things in. You can see I repeated the hare but flipped it so it looks a little difference. Usually I would go a lot smaller with my motifs to make a bigger repeat, so the repeat will not be so linear and obvious.
I the use very small motifs such as tiny leaves or little texture marks to fill more of the negative space, this just makes for a really nice busy image which is what I like to go for. I would probably usually have some motifs a little smaller and larger than the leaves, but I did not draw a massive range of motifs for this pattern as it was for a single pattern for the design contest based on Canadian Wildlife. I did enjoy this pattern though so I created some coordinating patterns to go with it. This is the point where I would also add a background colour to the bottom background layer.
Then I would click Edit, and Define Pattern, which adds this tile to the pattern section, which can be found in the Live paint bucket tool. It would be saved as a 2000 x 2000 pixel pattern, so you would need a 4000 x 4000 canvas to show the pattern repeated one time fully.
So I opened a 4500 x 4500 canvas and used the live paint bucket tool to put a pattern onto it. So this has repeated the image 1 extra full tile and a quarter both across and down from the top corner of the canvas.
I am happy with these designs and I like how they look, the method I use is good for me as I have learnt shortcuts to streamline it and feel like I can get a good repeat this way.