Nov 18, 2015

How to Use Step and Repeat in Photoshop

Using Step and Repeat, you can create Patterns from scratch! And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in today’s episode.

Step and Repeat is simply a series of Keyboard Shortcuts that allows an automatic repeat of shapes.

CLICK HERE to download the practice image from Adobe Stock.

SECTION I: Step and Repeat Basics

Without Step and Repeat, creating a perfectly spaced Pattern is not a fun venture. It would include manually duplicating and placing each shape, which takes quite some time. Step and Repeat makes it easy!

  1. The Step: Start with a shape or some sort of element that you’ll be repeating over and over again. Hold OPT + CMD + T, and then drag the element somewhere else. You can also Scale and rotate that element if you’d like. Once you click ENTER, the “Step” is complete.
  2. The Repeat: This is the exciting part! Hold SHIFT + OPT + CMD + T, and the transformation that was just made (the step) will repeat. Continue holding those keys, and it will repeat again every time you press T.

*The above method works great if you want each new transformation to appear on a different layer. It can be useful, but it can also start to stack many layers up too quickly. To create all of the repeated moves on the same layer, just hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on the layer (it must have your original shape on it) before you start the Step and Repeat process.

SECTION II: Creating Patterned Backgrounds

To create a nice abstract backdrop for a portrait, we made a long horizontal selection with the Marquee Tool, filled it with black, and used the Step and Repeat method to make a striped Pattern. We then used the Transform Tool to play around with the Angles of the lines.

To select the subject out from the Background, we used the Magic Wand Tool and then made it into a Layer Mask. Un-clicking the chain link icon will allow the Background to move independently from the subject. This is extremely helpful if you’re not fully confident in the exact design of the Background yet – you can continue to play around with the Pattern until you’re satisfied!

We hope you enjoyed learning how to use step and repeat in Photoshop! Again, CLICK HERE to download the practice image from Adobe Stock.

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  • user image
    Sheryl Yaz

    Wow, this was a really cool video session!! Thank you once again Phlearn team, I learned something new and cool and Phun! Showing a few different ways to use “Step and Repeat” really helped me see what it could do. Now… I’m off to have a little fun. Thanks again Guys.

  • user image

    Sanity-Savor for sure! Thank you Phlearn.

    Just wondering… the guy that walks in the frame from left to right at the start of your videos, is there some fun and interesting meaning behind that?

  • user image

    Thank you so much not just for “Step and Repeat” but for all of them. Useful, fun, creative and a long etc. Only one thing…I wish I could create the same Step and Repeat action to spread more love and peace all over the world.
    Greetings from Barcelona (Spain)

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Use Step and Repeat in Photoshop

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    Christopher Henderson

    Mind = Blown. I’ve watched a lot of your videos, Aaron, and I thank you for them. This one is super useful. Not just the step and repeat, but the masking, cropping, and transforming will save me so. much. time.

    Thank you to the whole Phlearn team and Happy Holidays!

    • user image

      For those on Windows and not a Mac the OPT (option key) would be the ALT key – as Aaron mentions in the VT. 🙂

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    Houston Brown

    This key combination doe nothing for me. I have tried and tried and still nothing. I have looked elsewhere on the internet and can not find out why this does not work for me. Anyone else having an issue with this?

  • user image

    Help ! I can’t do it…. When I try to drag the layer, holding the shortcut combination, I move the center of the layer, I can’t drag and duplicate… What I am doing wrong ?

    • Lee Morgan

      Hi Angela, It may be version specific, I am using PS CC 2015.1.2 and the following works. If using a PC Press CTRL + T. To move using the arrow keys just press the arrow keys (my preferred way as it’s easier to control) or just drag using the mouse no need to hold any key combination, press enter when done then hold CTRL+ALT+SHIFT and each press of the T repeats the process. The same process might work for Macs too. Hope this helps.

      Photoshop Tutorials: How to Use Step and Repeat in Photoshop

    • Lee Morgan

      Hi Antonella, Please accept my sincerest apologies on calling you Angela, i have no idea what i was looking at to make that dreadful error.

  • user image

    Thanks alot for sharing !! this tutorial was really brilliant and i love to learn more with PHLEARN

  • user image

    Love all your tutorials, but the multi key thing is a problem for me. I only have one hand, any ideas?