How to Use Any Image as a Pattern Fill in Photoshop

Use the Rectangle Marquee to create patterns from any image

the original image, the Pattern Fill dialog box and a selection filled with a pattern are shown.
Patterns can be created from any Photoshop image.

Using patterns in Adobe Photoshop is a technique for adding repeating elements to a selection or layer. For example, patterns are commonly used to change the fabric in a clothing item or to add subtle detail to an image. Though they may appear complex on the surface, they are relatively easy to create.

What Is a Pattern in Photoshop?

A pattern is an image or line art that can be tiled repeatedly. A tile is the subdividing of a computer graphics selection into a series of squares and placing them on a layer or within the selection. Thus, a pattern in Photoshop is essentially a tiled image.

The use of patterns can speed up your workflow by eliminating your need to create intricate objects that can otherwise be constructed using a repeatable image template. For example, if a selection needs to be filled with blue dots, a pattern reduces that task to a mouse click.

You can make your own custom patterns from photos or line art, use the preset patterns that come with Photoshop, or download and install pattern libraries from a variety of online sources.

You can define any image or selection as a pattern that can be used as a fill in Photoshop. These instructions apply to all versions of Photoshop from 4 up.

How to Use a Pattern Fill in Photoshop

  1. Open the image you'd like to use as a fill.

  2. If you want to use the entire image as your fill, go to Select > Select All. Otherwise, use the Rectangle Marquee tool to make a selection.

  3. Go to Edit > Define Pattern to open the Define Pattern dialog box. Give your selection a name and click OK.

  4. Go to another image or create a new image.

  5. Select the layer you want to fill or make a selection using one of the selection tools such as the Rectangular Marquee.

  6. Go to Edit > Fill to open the Fill dialog box.

  7. In the Fill dialog box select the Pattern from the Contents pop-down.

  8. Open the Custom Pattern drop-down menu to access a selection of patterns that are installed with Photoshop and any patterns you may have created previously. Click the pattern you wish to apply.

  9. Leave the Script checkbox deselected. In Photoshop CS6 and later, scripted patterns are JavaScripts that randomly place an item defined as a pattern either in the selection or on a layer. 

  10. Choose a Blending Mode to have your pattern, especially if it is on a separate layer, interact with the colors of the pixels of the image it is placed over.

  11. Click OK.


  • Only rectangular selections can be defined as a pattern in some very old versions of Photoshop.
  • Check the box to Preserve Transparency in the Fill dialog if you only want to fill the non-transparent portions of a layer.
  • If you're applying a pattern to a layer, select the Layer and apply a Pattern Overlay in the Layer styles pop-down.
  • Another way of adding a pattern is to use the Paint Bucket tool to fill the Layer or selection. Select Pattern from the Tool Options.
  • Your pattern collection is found in a library. Select Window > Libraries to open them. 
  • You can also create content using the Adobe Touch Apps and have them available to you in your Creative Cloud library.