Bicycles, Pocket Watches, and a Dapper Octopus

Octopus

What the heck do bicycles, pocket watches, and a dapper octopus have in common, you ask? My new fabric design collection on Spoonflower! I’m having all sorts of fun putting hats on sea creatures and collaging with different Victorian etchings. Be sure to check out the collection and all my other fabric designs in my Spoonflower Shop!

One of the most difficult challenges I faced when starting out as a fabric designer was figuring out how to create a seamless repeat. You know, a pattern that doesn’t have any noticeable seams or weird cut off images.  I wanted to make sure that my designs could be printed on the 42″ wide fabrics just as well as the 54″ wide fabrics. Plus, if someone ordered a long length of fabric, I wanted to make sure the pattern extended beyond a single yard (36″).

At first, I tried figuring this out manually, which was impossible to get accurate.  Then it occurred to me that there’s this thing called the Intarwebz that might have the answer for me.  I did some research and discovered a really easy way to make a seamless repeat in Photoshop.  You can use this technique digitally, but it transfers well onto paper too.

Making A Seamless Repeat in Photoshop

Step 1: Center Your Design

  • Start your design in the middle of the canvas (or page).
  • Make sure your design does NOT touch any of the edges of the canvas (or page).

OctopusBowler

Step 2: Duplicate Your Layer

  • Duplicate the Layer with your design on it before manipulating the image any further.
  • Be sure to SAVE your design.  I often save multiple versions of a design (Octopus01.jpg, Octopus02.jpg, etc . . .) as I work just in case I want to go back to a previous version without losing anything I’ve done since the last “save”.

CopyLayer

Step 3: Offset Your Design

  • Hide that duplicate Layer so it’s out of the way.
  • Select the Layer with your main/original image on it.
  • Select the FILTER dropdown menu from the Tool Bar.
  • In the FILTER dropdown menu, select OTHER (at the bottom of the menu)
  • Select OFFSET.

FilterOffset01

  • A window will open up with options for the Offset filter.
  • Using the slider, manipulate the horizontal offset first.  (FYI: You can start with the vertical, it doesn’t matter).
  • Make sure you have the WRAP AROUND option selected in the bottom of the window.
  • Your image should shift horizontally on the screen.
  • Use the slider to make your image appear divided on the edges of the canvas or page.

HorizontalOffset

  • Now manipulate the Vertical slider.
  • Again, make sure that WRAP AROUND option is selected on the bottom of the window.
  • As you move the slider, your image should shift again, but this time vertically.
  • Manipulate the slider until pieces of your image appear in all four corners.
  • Select OK when you’re done!

VerticalOffset

Step 4: Add to Your Design and Merge Your Layers

  • Unhide the duplicate layer you made in Step Two.
  • You can use this layer, or you can make another copy of it (I like to make another copy so I always have the original design if I need it).
  • Place your design where you want it.
  • Select the Layer you’re working on as well as the Layer with your Offset design.
  • Select the Layer dropdown menu from the Tool Bar
  • Select MERGE LAYERS to combine the two layers into one.

MergeLayers

Voila! You’ve made a seamless repeat in just a few steps.  Remember to SAVE your work!

This was an uber simple example. You can get mega complex when making a seamless repeat by using multiple Layers and manipulating them individually.

Some Extra Tips:

  • Remember, whatever Layer you have selected when you go to Offset it (via Filter, Other, Offset), that’s the only Layer that will be manipulated.  All your other Layers will stay the same.
  • The more complex your design becomes, the more important it is to SAVE YOUR WORK.  I highly recommend you save multiple versions of your work so you can return to earlier versions at a later date.
  • If you resize a layer and the image is larger than your canvas, make sure you use the crop tool to cut off any part of the image that is no longer showing on your canvas.  If you don’t do this, the Offset tool will manipulate your entire image, including the part that doesn’t show, and it can really screw up your repeat.

Have at it, people! Make some awesome, seamless repeats of your own, and be sure to SHARE them with me! Don’t forget to come back next week to see some of the things you can do with your seamless repeat!

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