How to Make a Doodle Pattern in Photoshop

In this article, find out how to take doodles from your sketchbook and turn them into a quirky pattern.

Hand-drawn doodles are quite refreshing in a world full of photo manipulation and digital enhancement techniques. This tutorial assumes basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Here’s an example of the finished result:


1)  Doodle Away!

Paper and pencil are your best friends. Break away from the computer and let your imagination run wild.  Don’t worry about being perfect with each stroke. Embrace your personal doodle style and have fun. To create a large enough pattern you will need at least 8-10 doodles. Feel free to explore words, shapes cartoons or anything that comes to mind.

Below is a close-up of one of my doodles:


I begin by sketching lightly in pencil to get the shapes down.  After I’m satisfied with the shapes and outline, I use a pen to define and darken the smaller lines that make up the inside of doodle.

To finish, I outline the entire doodle with a thicker permanent marker.  This creates a nice variety of line weights. I also, explore texture using lines, cross-hatching and shapes inside my doodles.

2)  Scan and Clean


After you have all of your doodles ready to go, scan them in.  Depending on your scanner and settings you might need to clean up any artifacts or lines in the paper that are left over from drawing and erasing.

Prepare each doodle by cropping each one into it’s own jpeg so that you can import each neatly into the final PSD. This way you can open each doodle separately and clean up any mistakes. You might want to even add a few splashes of color to your doodles.

3)  Set up the Guides

Now, it’s time to set up your file in Photoshop.  It’s better to start big because you can always scale down later. Below are the steps I used to set up my PSD. Feel free to modify these for your needs. Open up Photoshop and create a new file.


  • Set up a new file at 300 dpi that is 8 inches tall by 8 inches wide
  • Next, create a colored box that is 1800px by 1800px.
  • Center the box to the middle of the stage.  (The colored box acts as your guide.)
  • Turn on smart guides. View > Show > Smart Guides. (This will help line up your doodles.)
  • Create a slice around the box. (The slice is the same size as the box you created.)

* Use the slice tool by clicking this icon: slice

4)  Start With The Corners

The corners are the hardest part so start with those first.

  • Import one of your  doodles.
  • Duplicate this image and place one in each of the guide’s corners.

Tip: Look for key points to line up your doodle with.



Top Right: Look at how the top branch touches the top of the guide and the bird's tail touches the side of the guide. Use this to line up the other corners. The "key points" I used are indicated by the red arrows.


Next, line up all of your doodles based on the key visual points that you choose.

  • Use the Align tools to align the top, bottom, left and right. You can do this by selecting the Top Doodles and ALIGN > TOP
  • Do this for each side so that each of the 4 images line up for a repeating pattern. Align the bottom two, left two and right two doodles and pay attention to the key points that you use to line up the images.

5)  Fill Out the Sides

Now that the hard part is done, you will use a similar technique to create matching sides to your pattern.


  • Import a new doodle to use on the sides of your pattern.
  • Duplicate this image and move one to each side of the guide.
  • Look for a key point to line up the doodle to the guide.

Left Side

Right Side

Right Side

  • Use the align tool to make sure the top’s of both images are aligned.
  • If the images are on the top and bottom edges - you can use the left align tool to align the left side of the images.
  • Repeat this for all edges until you are happy with the spacing.
All sides filled in.

All sides filled in

6)  Fill Everything In

The next step is super easy. Place the rest of your images into the pattern’s center area. Try to keep things evenly spaced and balanced. Keep in mind the blue square is just the guide. The edges outside of this will not be in the pattern and will be repeated if you correctly placed all of your sketches to line up.


7)  Export Your Pattern


  • Last but not least, hide the layer that contains your box guide.
  • Export the slice: Select File > Save for Web And Devices
  • Save the selected slice at 100%

You officially have a new pattern.  To use the pattern you might want to define a new pattern. Be sure to share a link in the comments below if you give this guide a whirl. We would love to see what kind of doodle pattern you come up with!