Seamless Repeat – Half Drop

The next pattern I wanted to try out was a half drop, meaning halfway down the tile, it repeats again, making a more interesting tile and harder to spot where the repeat is happening.

I use a technique where I take an existing basic tile repeat and turn it into a half drop, this method does not need it to be done that way but it is a quicker way to try it out.

Again here I create a square canvas, using 2000 x 2000 again just to keep it even which can be less confusing.

Create a 1000 x 1000 pixel box, this is exactly half the width and height of the canvas, if the canvas was a larger or smaller size you need to work out exactly what half of this would be. This needs to be in the middle of the page, someone with a newer photoshop may be able to just do this and know its in the centre by the way it moves there, mine does not do this, so I need to set some guidelines to help me.

These guidelines are created in View then New Guide, I add guide at half the canvas both ways, and a quarter of the canvas both ways too. I can now move my box, using the two quarter lines I know this is now in the middle of the page. Now I need to rotate the box, this is where the halfway marks come in handy.

So to do this I hold Ctrl and T to open the free transform on the shape, I then hold down shift and rotate it, holding shift makes it click evenly as it moves, so I let it tick to the diamond shape seen here. Then I can remove the guidelines, and pull the opacity of the square down a little.

I then go to my tile piece and highlight over all the layers and duplicate them to my half drop tile, scaling them down too will be useful to fit it roughly in the box. Now I just need to delete the motifs that are cut in half, and move a few things around to keep it more in the square, sometimes if I have a true tossed design I just rotate the whole square to the side to match the diamond.

So after some shuffling this is what I did, most of the design fits into the diamond shape here and anything hanging off the end may fit quite nicely into the repeat, it is a wait and see at the moment here because there is room for tweaking the pattern later on. Next I highlight over all of the layers here that are over the diamond (not the diamond) and right click on them, and convert them to a smart object. This flattens the layers into one essentially, but you can still enter them and expand them to move things around.

So I duplicate the layer in the exact place, as I will be using numbers in the offset menu, I drew roughly what I will be creating with all the extra layers. I name my layers to keep track of them, so we have Middle Top, Middle Bottom, and Tiny left and Tiny Right which are the smaller little triangles around the edge of the canvas. The Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left and Bottom Right are the larger squares.

I first click on the Middle Top layer, and Filter, Other, Offset it, then drag the slider until I like the position of it. I have overlapped some motifs here but I know that once I remove or move one of those it will look a lot better. Make a note of the number as your vertical number, it is much easier for this to be a nice even number, This was 1150 for example, which will make it much easier to halve later when we need it. So the offset figure appears as -1150, the minus comes in because it is above that centre original group, so when we do the one below, it will just be +1150 as we need to replicate it the same. Similarly when we do the side pieces, the minus figure will be to the left of the centre piece and plus figure to the right.

So this now shows the Middle Bottom layer has been offset too, just as a positive version of the vertical number used to offset the Middle Top. Essentially what they is doing is slowly taking a layer off of the centre ‘pile’ of layers, until we just have one left and everything is done in the right place.

Next we are going to work out the Top Left layer, which will simply give the figures to fill in the rest of the layers very easily. First you need to divide your vertical number by two, we need to know the halfway point between that number and the centre of the canvas. so 1150 divided by 2 is 575 and for it to be above the centre in the top left box is needs to be -575. Then we just play around with the horizontal slider this time, finding the perfect position, again keeping in mind to use an even number for simplicity.

I chose 890 as my horizontal number, again here you can some problems occuring like a gap between the two white hares and also having those two white hares so close to each other, but this can be altered later. So the Top Left layer was placed here by using the -575 vertical value and my chosen -890.

For the Top Right layer, this just needs to be changed from negative to positive on the horizontal value, so instead of -890, it should be +890.

This is how it looks now, so to do the Bottom Right layer now, just the vertical number needs to be changed from negative to positive, making it +575, as we still want it to be half of the original vertical number to keep it in that half style.

Then finally, to fill in the final large gap, the horizontal number needs to be changed again from + to -890.

This may look complete now in some designs, but there are still two layers in the pile on top of the centre piece, called Tiny Left and Tiny Right, if you look at the first image where I drew the rough guidelines, the little triangles on the left and right need to be filled. To do this, you need to take the horizontal number used, and double it, 1780. As we do not want to move vertically, the vertical number should be set to zero in the offset menu, and the horizontal should be -1780 for the Left, and +1780 for the right.

After I place these last two layers, I then remove the square in the background, I like to work with this to know where my edges are still, but removing this now you can see where the overlaps and gaps are. To fix these, we go into the smart object of the middle layer, you just double click the tiny square in the corner of the layer in the layers panel.

We then see this, anything I move in here, will be moved in all of the other layers in the main design, so if I delete a motif, it will be deleted too. This is now a little bit of trial and error in moving things around and seeing if they work, this layer opens as a new tab so you can go back and see which motifs you need to change, however you cannot see the preview in real time, you need to close down the new layer tab and save it, which then moves everything around in the pattern.

So now this took a few tweaks going in, saving, and then going back in as I was going along, but I do now like the look of this, the final step is to define the pattern, which cannot just be done by clicking Edit, Define Pattern, because the edges of this canvas is not the repeat, we need to use the vertical and horizontal numbers to define this. So we need to use the rectangle marque tool to select the right amount of the design, when you click this, the bar at the top changes, and there is a style option which you can change to fixed size, you can then enter the exact values in here and just click on the canvas and the perfect box will appear. So the values need to be the ORIGINAL vertical number, not the halved one as the height of the rectangle, and the original horizontal number doubled as the width. So it will be width = 1780 and height = 1150.

You can faintly see the box here, check around the edges for the repeat, like I can see here the fox’s ears are cut off at the top and just poke through down the bottom, and there is also a fox’s ear on the sides that I can see seem to match up. From experience, a visual check is enough here because if you go wrong, it is a little more noticeable and will usually be more drastically different. Now with this selected, we can click Edit and Define Pattern. I usually then create a canvas that is exactly the same as the rectangular marque, and paint bucket the pattern in, because I think have a perfectly tile of it, you could also choose to crop the design to this rectangle as a final step.

So firstly I am showing the basic tile repeat I did here, this is the design that I started the design from as well by copying it into the half drop tile.

These next two show the half drop, using the same size canvas as the basic repeat first then trying to match the kind of scale in the next one. Because of the rectangular marque defining the pattern in the end, the tile is not as big as the basic repeat so there will be a big difference in scale. Overall I am happy with the kind of designs that I can create with my techniques here, but hope to keep expanding this knowledge with the help of online classes.

Seamless Repeat on Photoshop

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.