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Seamless Tile
Posted by: Doug Nelson on 12-31-1969.

"Use Photoshop’s Offset filter to make any image into a seamlessly tileable pattern"

Whether it’s for a webpage background or resurfacing a selected image area, sometimes nothing beats a tiled texture or pattern. You can purchase and download pattern collections, but chances are you’re eventually going to have to make your own, and that pattern will need to be tiled without showing the seam where the two copies meet.

Some things to keep in mind:

It may sound too elementary to consider, but tiles are rectangular, at least as far as Photoshop is concerned. This means you’ll need to find a rectangular section of your source image to tile. In addition, avoid selecting an area with unique or striking features that will become obvious if repeated. Sometimes you’ll get lucky (or have the luxury of preplanning) and there are square edges in the image, but this is rare.

Just about any image can be tiled, but that doesn’t mean they should be. Keep in mind the idea is to extend an existing pattern or texture, so keep it textural. Tiling a person’s face or some other recognizable object can be distracting, or sometimes even disturbing.

1          Open your source image and use the Rectangular Marquee tool set to zero feather to select the area you want to tile. Try to make things as simple as possible by paying attention to the edges of the selection. Remember that the left and right and the top and bottom will eventually touch, so avoid anything there that will be difficult to match up. In this case I selected the center of the pocket area, avoiding the seams on all sides and the darker areas next to the seams. Copy the selection to the clipboard with Cmd/Ctrl – C.


2          From the File menu select New and notice the color and size information has already been filled in for you. Click OK to make the new document, then paste the clipboard contents into place with Cmd/Ctrl – V. We’ll want to work with a flattened image, so press Cmd/Ctrl – E to merge down.



3          Now we have our pattern, but if we tiled it now the edges (the “seams”) would be too obvious. From the Filter menu select Other > Offset to open the Offset filter dialog. Move it to the side so you can see all the image and make sure Preview is selected. Zero out both the Height and Width settings, and set Undefined Areas to Wrap Around. Slowly drag each slider while watching in the open document. The edges come in from the sides and the sides wrap around. Stop when the intersection point is roughly in the middle and click on OK.




4          Now our pattern’s edges will tile seamlessly, but we still have the intersecting edges in the middle to deal with. It’s a good time to inspect your image and decide if it will make a good tile. If there is an repeating feature you didn’t notice before, or if there’s something that simply won’t match up, don’t be afraid to cancel this image and start over with a different selected area. Use the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush tools so blend away the seams. I also find the Patch tool to be particularly handy for this, but for this image I simply used the Lasso tool set to a feather of 32 and selected good areas to paste over the seams. Depending on your initial selection you may need to use other techniques, such as copying pieces from the original image and local tonal or color correction.




5          Once you’ve hidden the seams and flattened the image (if necessary), turn your new seamless tile into a Photoshop pattern by selecting the entire image (Cmd/Ctrl – A) and choosing Define Pattern from the Edit menu. Give it a unique and descriptive name.


6          Test your new tile by making a new document that’s much larger than the tile, then from the Edit menu select Fill. In the Fill dialog choose pattern as the Contents, and select the new tile from the Custom Pattern dropdown menu.





  • Save your full-sized tile as a PSD file for later use. You’ll need to scale it to match the resolution of the image you’re using it on and save it as a new pattern.

  • If you’ve got a tough portrait retouch, try making a seamless tile from a good skin area and using it as the source pattern for the Healing Brush or Patch tools.

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