There are many ways of creating repeating patterns using computer programs. The following are basic directions for creating a repeat pattern using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Again, basic, but it should get you started.
1. Open a new document. It really doesn’t matter the size, as it will be re-sized later. I selected the default paper size.
2. For illustration purposes, I’m using a custom shape from the custom shape palette.
Tip: To find more custom shapes, open the flyout menu and select All and click Append. This will append a bunch more shapes to your shapes palette. This is in Photoshop CS4. Elements has this feature (top right illustration)
3. Drag to create your shape, hold down the shift key while dragging to constrain the design to a square. Select the crop tool. The goal here is to create a square with a border of white. Put the crop tool in the center of the design. Hold the option/alt key and the shift key together and drag out. This will make an square around the item. Turn on your Rulers if they are not on. View>Rulers. Drag a vertical and horizontal guide to locate the center of the shape. (top left illustration)
4. Use the marquee tool to select the left half of the image. (top right illustration)
5. Open the layers menu (Windows>Layers). Copy the left half that has the selection around it and then Paste. You’ll see the copy of the section on its own layer in the palette. (top left illustration)
6. Click on Layer 1 to make sure it is active (it is highlighted in color) and then use the move tool to drag it to the right. (top right illustration)
7. Click on the background layer. Marquee to select the right side. Copy it and paste it. The copied image will appear on its own layer, in this case Layer 2. (top left illustration) Drag it to the left. (top right illustration)
8. From the fly-out menu on the Layers palette, select Flatten Image. This will merge all of the layers into one (top right illustration)
9. Repeat the steps, but select the top half, copy/paste it, then move it to the bottom. Return to the background layer, select the bottom half, copy/paste it, and move it to the top. (top left illustration)
10. Determine the size you want your repeat pattern. Go to Image>Image Size. Leaving Constrain Proportions and Resample Image ON, insert 60 x 60 pixels in the top Pixel Dimensions area (or insert whatever dimension you want). Click OK. The image will change size. (upper top right) If you cannot initially see it, be sure you are viewing it at 100%.
Note: Ignore the Print Size box underneath it; it only applies to printing and has no relevance here. Also, my 60×60 pixel size is a good size for the web. For print, however, you’ll need more resolution.
11. To define this design as a pattern, go to Edit>Define Pattern. (above this illustration, on the lower right) Name the pattern. I named mine flowers. (top left illustration) Click OK. (top right illustration) The flower is now part of the Patterns Library.
12. Open a new document. I opened a document that is 640 pixels by 480 pixels.
To create your pattern, go to Image>Fill. Select Pattern from the dropdown menu. Select the pattern you just created, which will be on the bottom right of your palette. Voila, you have a fill pattern.
Experiment. Consider different sizes, shapes, colors, and so on.
Also, you’ll see my pattern has a small gray line. That means that I didn’t select my image quite right. I should have turned on the grid. Even so, I’m okay with the gray line. It sort of looks stitched. A happy accident.