How to Import and Create Photoshop Patterns

how to patterns

Photoshop patterns are a great layer style effect that can be cleverly incorporated into many Photoshop graphic design projects. Although it is an extremely effective tool, often the task of importing patterns can appear problematic at first due to the variety of different formats they come in. As a working file, patterns should have a .PAT extension, unfortunately, most of the time you will find that they are downloaded in different formats and need to be turned into patterns using Photoshop. This tutorial will show you how to do this step by step with different file formats. It will also show you how to create a pattern virtually using any image you like. The method has been demonstrated using Photoshop CC.

Majority of the time patterns will be downloaded in an archive as a .ZIP or a .RAR file. In each of the scenarios the first step is to extract the files. If you are unsure how to extract files, check your preferred search engine on how to “unzip files.”

Importing Photoshop Patterns in .PAT Format

If you extracted your files and see that they are in .PAT format, the process of importing them into Photoshop is very simple; simply open the file and the pattern or a pattern set will be loaded into Photoshop automatically. If the pattern or a pattern set did not load automatically, you can do it manually by copying the files into the Patterns folder in the Photoshop directory.

Opening a pattern

The quickest way to access the Patterns folder is through Photoshop itself. Open Photoshop and in the Photoshop toolbar at the top left corner of the screen click ‘Edit’. A drop-down menu will appear and at the bottom of the menu you will see the tab ‘Presets’. Select this tab and open the ‘Presets Manager’.

presets manager

It will open a panel of the presets currently imported into Photoshop. Under the ‘Preset Type’ select ‘Patterns’ and click ‘Load…’. It will open the ‘Presets’ folder in the Photoshop directory. Copy the downloaded .PAT files into this folder. The pattern or a pattern set should now be loaded into Photoshop and you should see it listed in the ‘Preset Manager’.

Presets manager 2

Importing Ai, Eps or .Psd Patterns

Majority of the time patterns will be created for a number of software and will come in a format that is not optimized for Photoshop. They will need to be defined into patterns using Photoshop. The first step is to open these files in Photoshop. Opening either of the file formats will open a panel that will require you to define a file size. Since they are vector files you can choose any size for your pattern. It depends on the size of the file the pattern will be applied to, but it is recommended to create a larger scale pattern to have headroom when using it. When opening the different formats the .AI and .PSD files will open and ‘Import PDF’ panel and .EPS files will open a ‘Rasterize EPS Format’ panel. In both cases define the image size and click ‘Ok’.

ai file open eps file open

It will open the pattern as an image; often you will find a number of patterns on one sheet. With the ‘rectangular marquee tool’ select only the pattern that you want to use. Once the pattern is selected go to the Photoshop toolbar and open the ‘Edit’ tab. In the drop-down menu select the ‘Define Patter’.

pattern selection

define pattern

A ‘Pattern Name’ dialog box will open asking you to name your pattern. Once you give it a title, click ‘Ok’ – your pattern has been defined and now is ready to use.

naming a pattern

Creating a Pattern From any Image

You can use any image in Photoshop to define a pattern the same way you would with the .AI, .EPS or .PSD files. Follow the exact same guidelines to do it. Bear in mind that most image formats are not vector files, meaning that the scalability of your pattern will depend on the size of the image you use.

pattern from image

Applying a Pattern in Photoshop

To check if your patterns have imported successfully, open an image to which you will apply the pattern. Select the layer that you want to apply the pattern to, click the ‘Fx’ button and select ‘Pattern Overlay’ option from the menu.

adding a layer style

It will open a ‘Layer Style’ panel with the controls for the chosen effect. To select the new pattern that you loaded or created click the small arrow button on the right side of the thumbnail of the pattern that is currently selected.

layer style panel

It will open a box with the selection of patterns currently imported into Photoshop. Select the one you intend to use. Now you can experiment with the scale slider to find the best size for the pattern, set the level of the opacity, and select the blend mode for the pattern.


Did you find this tutorial useful? Try our guide on 6 creative Photoshop add-ons, brushes and action packages that will add further depth to your Photoshop projects.

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