Create Seamless Patterns in Procreate
In this tutorial we’ll show you how to create a seamless pattern or backing paper using Procreate. Seamless patterns are great, as it means you can duplicate them as many times as you want, and there’ll never be any mismatches or visible joins.
You can use any medium to create a backing paper, for example, you can draw your own designs, use brushes, or use clip art. I’m going to show you a basic pattern just to demonstrate the technique as clearly as possible. I’ll draw some simple shapes on the canvas, as what we really want to show is the method, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can design a seamless pattern in any way you want, using any design at all!
At the end of the article, I’ll show some examples of seamless patterns created using both hand drawn designs and clip art. This technique really has no end – and once you get started – it’s pretty addictive!
Our first step is to create a new canvas in Procreate. Usually, we use the screen sized canvas, but as we’re going to make a seamless pattern which can be duplicated, we need a square. Click the + in the top right corner, and then click the next + and enter the dimensions 2048 x 2048px, with a DPI of 400. Setting our DPI at 400 ensures a nice quality printout, and for me, I always like to have the option.
Now that we have our canvas ready, we’ll start with our basic design to get the hang of the technique. Go into the brush library by clicking the paintbrush tool, and then under the calligraphy section, choose the monoline brush.
Pick a colour of your choice from the colour palette, for this exercise it doesn’t really matter about your colour scheme, unless you’re wanting to create a specific background right now. I’ll just choose random colours.
Grab your monoline brush, and draw some random shapes on the canvas. It’s really important at this point not to draw over the edge of the page, everything we draw has to be on the canvas completely.
Tip: to colour in a shape quickly, choose your colour and drag the colour circle from the top right hand corner into your shape.
Now you have your basic shapes drawn, we’ll start the process of making the canvas into a seamless pattern. Go to the layers menu, and press the + to create a new layer.
Once you’ve created the layer, select a dark colour – any colour, we won’t be keeping this so it doesn’t matter if it matches your pattern or not – then, click on the layer image box and select the fill layer option from the pop up menu.
On the fill layer, click the N next to the check box to the right hand side of the layer. This gives us our options for the layer, and effects which we can apply.
Ensure normal is highlighted, and use the opacity slider to change it down to 50%. The reason we’ve created a fill layer is because we’re going to reposition the canvas, and the coloured background will visually help us to ensure that everything is aligned. We’ve amended the opacity so that we can still see our pattern.
Next, move your fill layer down so that it’s below your pattern layer. To do this, hold down on the layer name and drag it downwards.
We now want to group our layers together. To do this, click on the layer image box of the pattern layer (this should be the top one in the list), and select combine down, this is the last option on the menu.
Now we’ve grouped our layers, we need to duplicate the entire group. Swipe left on the layer group title, and then select duplicate which is the middle option. Be careful not to hit delete by mistake!
You’ll now see two groups exactly the same. Before we move on, pinch your canvas with two fingers and zoom out so that your work is smaller on the page, this’ll make our next step easier.
Go back to the layers menu, and click on the first group layer (the title for the grouped layers), and then select the cursor icon from the top left hand menu. You should now see the move and transform controls around your canvas.
Hold down on the canvas with your stylus, and then drag the entire thing to the bottom of the page. As you move the layer, you’ll see the magnetic snap lines appear, make use of these and move your layer to the bottom half of the canvas, ensuring that it’s lined up with the edges correctly and is exactly in the middle. Your fill layer should help you see this alongside Procreate’s magnetic guides.
Repeat this step with the other layer group, only you need to now drag it to the top of the page, again, lining up the edges and ensuring that the layer is exactly half way – you should see no space between the two layers we’ve shuffled around.
Expand your grouped layers, and swipe left across the fill layers and delete them. Then, drag both of your pattern layers to the top and swipe left on the group headings and delete those too.
You’ll now be left with two pattern layers. Create a new layer above these two. You’ll notice as your pattern has shifted, there are gaps. On your new layer, fill in the gaps with more shapes or images of your choice, ensuring to only add elements to the middle, don’t add any which go over the edge.
Once you’ve added to your pattern, click on the newest layer and create a fill layer, the same way as we did before. Drag the fill layer down to the bottom, so that it’s above the background layer.
Click on the top layer, and select combine down, this will group our layers together again. Then, swipe left on the layer group title and select duplicate. You’ll now have two groups of layers, like we did before.
Now, we’re going to repeat the steps above, however, instead of moving our layers horizontally on the canvas, we’ll move them to the left and the right.
Click on your first layer group, and then click the cursor icon. Drag the layer to one side of the page, ensuring that it’s lined up at the edges and that it’s accurately in the middle. Highlight your other layer group, click the cursor icon and move this to the opposite side.
Once complete, delete your fill layers again. You’ll see that your pattern has changed slightly and you may have more space. Feel free to fill in any gaps with patterns or images, or leave it spaced out if you wish.
We’re all done! If you want to choose a background colour, go to the background colour layer and select one.
Your seamless pattern is now complete! You can duplicate this as many times as you want, and it should all match up exactly. These types of projects are ideal for backing papers for greetings cards or scrapbooking.
You can see my finished pattern below, I’ve also provided an example of it duplicated so that you can see how seamless it is.
This pattern isn’t too fancy, I just created a basic one to show the technique. Once you’ve got the hang of it, try experimenting with other designs, either drawing more complex shapes, using brushes, or even adding clip art.
Below are some examples of seamless patterns which I’ve created using this exact method. The palm leaves below were hand drawn by myself, and the oranges are clip art elements downloadable from Creative Fabrica here.
The marble effect behind the oranges is also super easy to create, if you’re interested in trying this out, click here for my marble background tutorial.
The possibilities truly are endless with this technique, have fun and experiment!