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Creating Tiled Backgrounds in Photoshop CS5

Photoshop offers up a few different ways to create tiled patterns. In this tutorial, we'll have a look at the simplest, most direct way to create a tiled image. These tiled images are perfect for backgrounds, either for a website or for a print layout.

If you're intending on creating a tiled background for use on the web, just be sure to keep your file low resolution (72ppi) and in the RGB color space. If you're creating a tiled background for commercial print output, then be sure to set up your file as a 300ppi CMYK document. Okay, let's get started!

Here's how to create and apply a pattern...

Step 1

Open the file that you'd like to use as a pattern.

This file can be any sort of image you have -- a photo, a logo, a cartoon...even text will work. That said, keep in mind that smaller images typically work best. Sure you can tile a 5x7" photo, but a smaller image would be much more effective.

Step 2

Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, select the area of the image that you'd like to use as a pattern.

For example, you may only want the top portion of your image to be used as a pattern, or maybe a corner. Go ahead and select that area. Be sure that Feather is set to 0 on the Options bar. Alternatively, if you want to use the entire image, select everything by choosing Select > All.

Now we need to save the selection as a pattern.

Step 3

Choose Edit > Define Pattern.

Step 4

In the Pattern Name dialog box that appears, go ahead and give your new pattern a name, then click OK.

Great! Now that our pattern is defined, we can go and use it. What we'll do is create a new blank file and fill it with our new pattern.

Step 5

Create a new blank Photoshop document.

Once again, keep in mind where you want to use your pattern and set your document's resolution, color space, and dimensions accordingly.

Now we're ready to fill our file with our saved pattern.

Step 6

Choose Edit > Fill.

Step 7

From the Use pull-down menu at the top, choose Pattern.

Step 8

Next, from the Custom Pattern drop-down, choose the pattern that you just created; then click OK.

Your file is filled with your newly defined pattern. Nice! At this point, you may want to save the image out for use on the web or perhaps for a layout you're working on in InDesign. Either way, creating patterns is pretty fast 'n easy in Photoshop!

Want to learn more? Check out these Photoshop tips and tricks.

Geoff Blake

Geoff Blake | Articles by this author

Geoff Blake is a book author, video presenter, designer, and visual artist. As an in demand live-on-stage software educator since 1997, Geoff has taught desktop publishing, web design and graphics courses all over North America and is regarded as an expert in Adobe's Creative Suite applications, as well as in HTML, CSS, WordPress, and related technologies. With his humorous, non-jargonny approach, Geoff produces highly regarded articles, video training and DVDs, and regularly contributes to top industry magazines and websites.


Mar 24, 2011
Dawn Fleetwood
This is fantastic. Why can't all Photoshop tutorials be as clear and easy as this one. Thank you so much.
Jun 12, 2012
Just had to sign up to thank you for this tutorial. Brilliant, clear and now I know exactly what I am doing :)
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