How to Use Any Image as a Pattern Fill in Photoshop

Use the Rectangle Marquee to create patterns from any image

What To Know

  • Open the image. Go to Edit > Select All to get everything, or use the Rectangle Marquee. Go to Edit > Define Pattern > name it > Ok.
  • Open another image. Pick a layer or area to fill, and go to Edit > Fill > Custom Pattern. Pick a pattern and blending mode, and press Ok.

This article explains how to use patterns in Adobe Photoshop as a technique for adding repeating elements to a selection or layer. The steps we outline have been tested in Adobe Photoshop for Creative Cloud, but the procedure has been a part of the application since Photoshop 4.

How to Use a Basic Pattern 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.

    Pattern Name > OK
  4. Open another image, or create a new one.

  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. Select the Custom Pattern pop-down.

    Edit > Fill
  7. 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.

    Custom pattern dropdown
  8. 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.

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

    Blending Mode
  10. Click OK. This is the result:

    Photoshop fill

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 original image, the Pattern Fill dialog box and a selection filled with a pattern are shown.

Using patterns eliminates the need to create intricate objects that you can otherwise make using a repeatable image template, thus saving time. 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 to use as a fill-in Photoshop. Here's how.


To maximize the usefulness of this feature:

  • 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 want to fill only 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 in your Creative Cloud library.
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