How to Design a Seamless Repeat with Procreate

JUL 18, 2018 updated Apr 29, 2021

Does mastering the art of seamless repeats feel like the pinnacle of your surface design journey? We’ve got a not-so-secret truth to tell you—they’re easier than you might think! Spoonflower designer Anda Corrie is demystifying seamless repeats using the budget-friendly (just $9.99!) design tool, Procreate®, and her trusty iPad. With her helpful tutorial, you’ll be able to design fabric, wallpaper and even your own custom bedding in no time.

Anda: Ever since I discovered the drawing app Procreate, I have been designing fabric almost entirely digitally. In fact, I have been designing fabric from my couch, and can have it completely uploaded to Spoonflower and in the mail without getting up at all ever (except to refill my coffee).

But, like most everyone creating fabric on their iPads while sitting on their sofas, at first I struggled to create repeating patterns without errors. Procreate had no easy tool for offsetting a design like I was used to. Nearly a year in I was still using a very precise method I like to call “eyeballing it” — but as you can probably guess, all my finished fabric had pixel lines and I was wasting a ton of time. And proofs.

Three years later and Procreate still doesn’t have an offset feature. However, a recent update included a new feature called “snapping” which makes the process a lot easier to manage. The method below will walk you through the steps allowing you to create seamless repeating designs, while cozily ensconced in a throw blanket the entire time.  Enjoy!

How To Create A Seamless Repeat Design

1. Create a New Canvas

I almost always work in an 8 x 8″ square at 300 dpi when designing on the iPad. I like this size because 8 x 8″ is the size of a Spoonflower swatch, but at 300 dpi I have more options for adjusting the scale of my design.

2. Draw Within the Canvas

To keep things simple, don’t let any of your work run off the sides—keep everything within the canvas borders. Once your canvas is full of lovely drawings, choose a large brush and slide the brush’s opacity down to around 50%.

3. Mark the Corners

Draw dots in every corner of your canvas, being very careful to not touch or overlap any of the elements in your drawing. Next, open the Layers panel, swipe left on your layer, and select Duplicate (note for artists working with multiple layers: first, combine your layers into a group, then select and duplicate the group).

4. Position the Layers

With one layer selected, click the Transform tool at the top left. At the bottom left, turn on Snapping and Magnetics. Then move the selected art up and off the canvas until you see yellow guides appear vertically,  horizontally, and along both sides. Half your image will disappear off the canvas. Deselect only once you can see all the guidelines. All of them!

5. Test the Snapping

Now select the second layer, click Transform, and move it the opposite way (in this case, down), until you see the yellow and blue guides, then deselect. The dots you’ve added in the corners will now be meeting neatly on opposite sides of the canvas. Double-check that it worked by zooming in to take a closer look at those dots. They should be touching cleanly—if you see a dark line or a white line where the dots meet, your image hasn’t snapped correctly. Undo with a two-finger tap and try again. You may also want to check all four sides of your canvas for white edges where the image may have not snapped to the side properly as well.

6. Merge Your Layers

Merge your two layers together. If you are working with two groups of many layers, you will have to drag them out of the groups and merge them one by one. Draw in the empty spaces and avoid the edges of the canvas. 

7. Continue Positioning

Now, repeat steps 3-6, but this time drag the layers to the left or right. Remember to check that everything snapped correctly by looking for overlapping areas in your dots and for white edges on the canvas. Draw as much as you like in these empty spaces. 

8. Test Your Repeat

As I work, I frequently check the repeat by exporting it to an app that lets me quickly tile 4 or 8 squares together. I use Layout from Instagram for this. Click Share in the tool panel and select JPG and save locally to your Images folder. Leave your canvas open in Procreate and open Layout, then tile away! You can then go back to your Procreate window and make adjustments if something isn’t working. 

9. Upload the Finished Design

Once you are happy with your design, go ahead and just upload it to Spoonflower from your device! Choose Photo Library from the drop down and find the tile in your photos. Once uploaded, you can adjust the size, give it a title, and order a swatch all from your couch! 

All done! See how easy? Here are some more hand-drawn digital designs I’ve made using this method.

Featured designs: Weird Winter Birds, F is for Finch, Wiggly Tigers, Cut Paper Wild Field

Drawing apps are a fun and inexpensive way to get super addicted to surface design. I love seeing others’ work on Instagram, so comment @andacorrie if you design something using this technique!

Meet Anda

Anda Lewis Corrie is an American illustrator, designer and artist living in Germany with her little family. She likes sharing ideas, seasonal cocktails, and drawing smiles on everything.

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  • Linda Burridge

    Thank you. When I first bookmarked this page I thought it looked too complicated for me, a 55 year old technical newbie. 6 months on I reopened it and I understand it. Old dog new tricks, helped by a great app and Spoonflower! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    • We’re so glad you are enjoying Procreate and found the tutorial helpful. Have fun!

      -Amy
      Spoonflower

  • These directions no longer seem accurate. In fact I can’t finish the process because of the changes. What other programs can do pattern repeats. I’m not impressed with the lack of training for this program.

    • Hi Chris,

      Sorry for the confusion! We have recently posted another Procreate tutorial that you may find helpful here. I hope that helps, but please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Such a wonderful tutorial! Really helped to teach me how to create a seamless pattern.
    It looks great in procreate, but when I uploaded the design to spoonflower you can see the splices in the pattern.

    Any advice? Mahalo in advance

    • Hi Kui,

      Thank you for the feedback! Whenever you’re moving elements in Procreate make sure that both snapping and magnetics are turned on to prevent accidentally nudging something a pixel or two too far. Make sure to zoom in around the edges and check that there aren’t any blank pixels where there shouldn’t be. You could also try testing your pattern tile in Procreate before exporting and uploading it to Spoonflower. Start by duplicating your final pattern a few times, transform it to make it smaller, and tile it to check that it’s repeating the way you want it to. Be sure to zoom in at the points where it’s meeting the other tiles and check that there are no pixel lines. Additionally, our preview screen can sometimes have a little bit of trouble displaying very intricate images. Try double-checking by viewing your design on All Products and look at the fabric section to see if that view looks correct.

      I hope that helps, but please let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Best,
      Amy
      Spoonfloewr

  • Hi thanks for the tutorial. Having created a tile image of a repeating pattern, how in Procreate do you actually fill a layer or selection area with the repeating pattern?

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your question. The easiest way to do this would be to export it and bring it into Illustrator to create a pattern fill. But to do it all in Procreate we would recommend first turning on guides—under the Wrench icon at the top, go to Canvas and turn on Drawing Guide. Then tap, Edit Drawing Guide right underneath. In the toolbar the pops up drag the slider for Grid Size all the way to the right so it’s on Max (the guides should divide your canvas into 4 sections) then tap Done. Next, in the layers panel duplicate your final tile layer and turn off any other layers. With your newly duplicated tile layer selected, scale it down using the Cursor icon in the top menu bar (in the bottom toolbar that pops up, make sure Snapping is on and Magnetics and Snapping are also on under the settings). Start dragging from one of the corners to make your tile smaller until it fits into one of the quadrants. With Snapping turned on your tile should snap to fit more easily as you get closer to your guides. Once it’s resized, tap the Cursor icon again to finalize the transformation. Then go back into your layers panel and duplicate the tile layer we just scaled-down and move it to one of the empty quadrants. Repeat this process of duplicating and moving the layers until all 4 quadrants have been filled. If you want, you can merge the visible layers at that point. If you want to keep scaling your pattern down even more, continue duplicating, scaling down and merging, until you get a better sense of how the pattern looks.

      We hope that helps! Please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Hi there great instructions by the way! I just have one question is a 64gb iPad Air enough to do this type of work or do I need an iPad Pro?

    • Hi Briar,

      We recommend reviewing Procreate’s website to find more information regarding suitable iPads but in our research online we found that all iPads released after 2015 are compatible with the latest version of the Procreate app. The models that are NOT compatible with the latest version of Procreate include: iPad 1 to 4, iPad Mini 1 to 3, and iPad Air 1.

  • This is such a cool tutorial, but I’m having some trouble with a tiny border that always shows up in my tiles. I always have to finish it in PS because of that border, I send it to PS, crop the tile to get rid of the border and then it is ready to go, but it doesn’t matter how much I try, I always have that border (It’s not noticeable unless I zoom in a bunch, but it does show up as a hairline when I test the pattern in Pixelmator or PS). You can actually see it on Anda’s images in this tutorial, a tiny white border around the tile. I thought it was a “mirage” and it wouldn’t show on the saved image, but in my case it always does, creating a hairline on the repeat pattern. Any ideas?

    • Hi Carolina,

      We’re glad to hear you enjoyed the tutorial! Procreate recently released an update that makes aligning tiles even easier! During step 7, click on the Snapping icon in the bottom menu (the one that pops up when you’re transforming the layer) and make sure that you have both Magnetics and Snapping turned on. This should help with snapping everything correctly and avoiding that pesky pixel line. I hope that helps, but let us know if you have any other questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

    • Hi Bashak,

      We’re sorry to hear you had trouble with step 7. Are you able to provide more details about the issue you experienced so we can assist you further?

  • These instructions worked beautifully, and I\’m happy with my design. After I used Procreate, I exported the design to Photoshop Elements, in PSD format, and air dropped it to my MacBook Pro. (Photoshop Elements is a one-time purchase ($99), unlike the other Adobe products that require a subscription). From Elements I was able to make a big canvas and paste my design over and over to see how the squares fit together, and then tweaked the design to improve the composition. As with Procreate, it just takes a bit of patience to nudge pixel by pixel to make sure there\’s no overlap or gap.

  • Fredrik Levy

    could you please provide the link to the video tut you found? I would like to watch it.

  • I am going to try this seamless repeat when I get a chance this week hopefully I will let you know how I got on xx

  • Michelle L Wagner-Marks

    Great tutorial! But until I can get a new iPad, is there a design site to use from my laptop? (without Illustrator or Photoshop)Thank you!

  • Ana Polack

    Dear Anda,

    Thank you for this very helpful tutorial!

    I thought that to upload to spoonflower one had to vectorize ones work first, with Adobe Illustrator for exemple.

    Maybe i missed something…

    • Hi Ana,

      As long as your file is saved as a JPG or PNG and under 40 mb, we can print it for you!

  • Chloe Vicos

    How do I save the pattern on spoonflower if I just want the pattern? This was a super helpful tutorial!

    • Hi Chloe,
      We’re happy to hear you found this tutorial helpful! When you upload the design to Spoonflower when you’re logged into your Spoonflower account, it’ll automatically save as your specific repeat in your account. If you download the original file once you’ve uploaded to Spoonflower, it’ll be the same file that you uploaded to your account. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

  • Wiren Creative

    Although I found this to be useful, I find the magnetic tool to not work much at all. Also, the dashed line around the selected layer makes it impossible to see if the two layers are overlapping or have a gap, when it is very thin. If I zoom in to see closer, I can’t access the top to nudge it. Thus, I have mixed feelings about the Procreate app and it’s usefulness for my design work.

  • Marjolein rooijmans

    Hi Anda,
    Thanks a lot for sharing. It is already very helpfull. And I just tried it. Only there are white lines appearing. They are on the sides in procreate and if I make a jpg then the white lines are visible in the design.
    Do you have a tip for that?
    Thanks a lot.
    Warm regards, marjolein

  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Oh my god, thank you! I could cry.

  • I can not thank you enough!
    I have tried,and it worked…..But I keep leaving a line?
    every time I pick up apple Pencil… It moves a bit!
    Do you or anyone have a tip” to stop the tip of apple pencil/or my finger from tipping the designs placement?
    I have even tried/ moving in one swoop/to the circle,in blue guide line into that other dot…which seems”
    Is where the Two Halfs should meet?
    peace,
    linda ann
    (I have a learning problem, words are not my forte) This is why
    i do stuff so upsidedown. Plus if you have a peek-my website is Wonky, I shall update it soon.
    I can hand draw till tomorrow is gone! ..I have 30+ sketch books filled bact to front of my Free style creations.

  • Marta herrera

    Thanks for the tutorial. I have been practicing , but sometimes the seems don’t align properly. But I will keep practicing. I love it. Thanks.

    • Same here… There is always a thin gray line between the two layers. I find it hard (impossible for now!) to stick the two layers side by side without overlay them… I guess we have to practice more! 🙂

  • Brilliant tutorial! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to put this into practice 🙂 x

    • Hi Patricia,

      While we haven’t given this technique a try, we think it might be something that could work!

  • Mary Aldoarsi

    Thanks for the tutorial! I am thinking about going digital! What kind of stylus do you have?

  • This was such a helpful tutorial. I too have been eyeballing my designs done on Procreate, and now my designs should have a better flow. Thanks!

    • Hi, Susan– Just took a look at this and realized I already have the app! Now to make a drawing worth repeating!!! Nancy

  • I sooo appreciate you taking the time to produce this feature…I knowww how much time and work it takest to create!! And to share what you learned by building on (and giving credit to) other’s who helped you is huge.

    Thank you for making my new Spoonflower experience even more enjoyable while creating!

    Sincerely Grateful!!

    • Hi Nelli,
      We’re so glad you found Anda’s tutorial helpful! Designing from your couch has never been easier thanks to Procreate!
      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Thanks, Anda (and Spoonflower!) That’s a brilliant way to do a seamless repeat! Now I have to convince my hubby that we need a newer iPad… ;o)