Creating Patterns With GIMP

I love patterns.

I mean, who doesn’t? They can be classy, fun, playful, monochrome, super colored, and they fit on basically everything, from home decoration, to phone cases, and fashion. Besides, they are easy to be assembled on virtually any graphic editor on the market, and a single motif can be reused several times, with different effects every time!

I mainly work on my Ubuntu Studio machine, therefore I create my patterns with GIMP, my favorite graphic editor: I like the fact that, since this software is available for Linux and Windows, I can create my matrix files on Linux and then re-use them on Windows, and vice-versa.

Let’s see how I use GIMP to create my patterns.

In order to create a single tile of my patterns, I will use two motifs + two textures from the collection “Watercolor Pattern Creator” from Julia Dreams, available at The Hungry Jpeg.

Motif 1
Motif 2
Texture 1, to be applied on pattern 1 (dots)
Texture 2, to be applied on pattern 2 (coffee cups)

First thing I need to do is prepare the texture files: in this example, each pattern is 3600 px large, while each texture is 2420 px large. I want to apply these textures into each of my motifs, so I will need to tweak my texture files a little bit:

First of all, I will resize the canvas from 2420 to 4840 px, using the command Image > Canvas Size.

Resize my canvas, from 2420 to 4840 px.

After that, I will add two guides to my image, one vertical and one horizontal, both with size 50%, in order to mark the center of the canvas.

Add new guide (by percent): one vertical, one horizontal, both set to 50%.

That said, I can now replicate the original texture as three new layers and re-position them inside the canvas, in order to create a bigger texture file: for that I might need to flip each new layer horizontally, vertically, or on both directions.

Example of a new texture, after replicating the original layer and flipping them horizontally.

After playing and tweaking a bit, when I am satisfied with the results, I will create a new layer to be placed at the bottom of my stack. This is important, because before consolidating this texture, I will need to merge all 4 layers into a single one, hence using this bottom layer as a surface where all other 4 will be anchored to.

Create new layer: this layer will be placed at the bottom of my stack, and used as a surface where I will anchor all my other 4 layers.

In order to anchor my layers on the bottom one, I will use the command “Merge Visible Layers” (via right-click on the layer stack), and select “Clipped to bottom layer”.

Now I can consolidate my new texture: for that I will run the filter “Tile Seamless”, under Filters > Map, only to remove any remaining imperfections.

My texture is ready to be used! Now I can copy it into my clipboard and go back to my motif file. Since I want it to be applied inside the illustration, namely inside all my coffee cups, I will run a selection by color, and paste it inside the selection. After that I just need to anchor it to the pattern.

My texture, applied into a pattern. First I selected it by color (namely, black), and then pasted it into the selection.

I will do the same procedure with my other motif, and then, in the end, combine them into a single image.

Both patterns, combined.

My tile is now ready to be exported as a PNG file and used as a building block for my pattern. I can actually upload it to my online stores and use it as a design for a new product, say, a pair of sneakers, for instance.

However, because some places do not support the creation of a pattern on the fly, it might be necessary that I create it as a new file within GIMP. In order to do that, first I will need to export this file as a PAT file (i.e. GIMP pattern):

Export my new pattern as a PAT file.

Now I will be able to use it as a background image (using the setting “Fill with” when creating a new file).

Because the original motif file was transparent, the resulting new pattern will be placed over a black background. In case I want to create a transparent background, I will need to convert the color black into an alpha channel instead.

That’s it, folks! Hope this little tutorial will help you to create your own wonderful patterns with GIMP for your creative projects!