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Applying a Random Pattern/Editing the Composition
Patterns you apply to a composition don’t have to be a “set piece”; you’ll frequently want to play with the applied pattern to mix up the elements, add a new element— anything you choose to disguise the repeating nature of a pattern. In the following steps, you’ll apply the saved button pattern to the bobbins image and then use the Free Transform feature to add a slight perspective to the pattern layer. The bobbins are in slight perspective and you want to match this perspective a little to integrate the composition. Then, because you’ve saved the pattern as a PSD file, you can copy a button or two to the bobbins composition to break up the repeat. In general, you don’t want a random pattern such as these buttons to repeat more than three times or it becomes obvious to the viewer.
- Increase the Canvas Size of the bobbins illustration; to add perspective later, you’ll need a canvas larger than the original composition because layers filled with patterns are clipped to the document edges. Right-click (Mac:Ctrl+ click) on the document title bar, and then choose Canvas Size.
- In the Canvas Size dialog box, choose percent from either New Size drop-down (the other drop down will change to percent automatically), and then type 125 in the top value field, press Tab twice to move to the other field, type 125 and then click OK.
- Click the Fill layer title on the Layers palette, and then choose Edit?Fill. In the Fill dialog box, choose Pattern in the Use field, and then scout down the thumbnail of the buttons pattern. Click it and then click Ok to apply the pattern as a fill.
- Press Ctrl/cmd+T to put this layer in Free Transform mode.
- Right-click and then choose Distort from the context menu. You’re using distort instead of the more obvious Perspective Free Transform because Perspective doesn’t allow you to quickly toggle to Scale Free Transform; you need to both add perspective and scale the pattern.
- Drag the Free Transform bounding box handles, one at a time, so your layer looks like Figure 11, or until you judge that the perspective looks correct (or close to correct).
- Click the checkmark icon on the Options bar to apply the Free Transform.
- Ctrl/cmd+click on the background layer to load it as a selection. Then choose Image>Crop.
- Click the title bar of the Buttons.psd image to move it to the foreground in the workspace. Then on the Layers palette, click+drag a button title into the bobbins composition. With the Move tool, put the button somewhere in the composition where it helps disguise any obvious repeats. If you put it on top of part of one of the bobbins, the composition will look much more integrated.
- Optionally, you can shade the top of the image; I found that doing this moves the focus of the composition more towards the bobbins and the composition looks tighter. With black as your foreground color, choose the Gradient tool, choose the foreground to transparent preset on the Options bar, choose the top layer on the Layers palette, and then drag from top to about 25% down in the image. In figure 12, the composition looks good and who would believe all those buttons are just 9 individual ones repeated in an asymmetrical pattern?
This article has covered simple pattern creation using Photoshop, and hopefully you’ve seen that pattern creation can be automated using several different means, and patterns can be applied in various ways, but it’s the seed— your design element— that determines the quality of your overall design. Check out the Advanced article on pattern creation to see some inspired use of native and fantastic 3rd party plug-ins that’ll make the sky the limit for building photorealistic textures.
Copyright ©2008, Gary David Bouton. This article can be printed for personal reference, but cannot be duplicated using electronic or mechanical means without prior consent from the author.