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How to Use Step and Repeat in Photoshop

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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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