As a designer, I always have to create different backgrounds for blogs, business cards, or illustrations. For a long time, I thought that creating a quatrefoil pattern in Photoshop is very hard. This was one of those things that I had to do in Illustrator, but working with the shape tools has never been easier thanks to Photoshop CS6 and CC.
Quatrefoil means four leaves and it usually consists of four overlapping circles. There are many other types, like barbed quatrefoil that is made using a square and four circles. This tutorial will show you how to make a simple quatrefoil pattern and a barbed quatrefoil pattern and how to use them to create a background.
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Make a quatrefoil pattern
Start by making a new document, 50x50px at 72ppi resolution. I usually start with a white background and then I delete it later, though you can also start with a transparent background. Unlock the background layer and make a new layer for your shape.
Select the Ellipse Tool, and from the top menu, choose the following settings:
- no Fill, black Stroke, 4 pt
- 30x30px size
Move the circle at the top of the canvas and duplicate the layer. Place the new circle at the bottom of the canvas, like in the image below, and merge the shapes (select the two layers, right-click on one of them and select Merge Shapes from the menu).
If you are using an older version of Photoshop, you can merge the layers and delete the overlapping margins using the Eraser.
Duplicate the layer. Rotate the second layer at 90° from Edit > Transform > Rotate 90° clockwise.
Merge the shapes again. Now that you have the quatrefoil, delete the white background and save the pattern by going to Edit > Define Pattern.
How to make a barbed quatrefoil pattern in Photoshop
We are going to use the simple quatrefoil pattern to make a barbed quatrefoil pattern by adding a square over the shape.
Use the rectangle tool to create a square that’s a bit smaller than the canvas and center it.
Then select both layers, right-click on them, and choose Merge Shapes from the menu.
Go to Edit > Define Pattern to save it as a pattern.
How to make a quatrefoil background
Create a new document and make a canvas that’s larger than your pattern. I’m going to use a canvas that’s 800 x 800 px.
Change the background color to the color you want to use, then make a new layer.
Go to Edit > Fill and select the quatrefoil pattern from Custom Patterns.
If you want to change the color of the quatrefoil pattern, go to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer button. Choose Solid Color from the list and pick a new color for the pattern. Then go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. The Clipping Mask will add the new color or texture to the pattern.
If you want to change the color again, just double-click on the solid color thumbnail and select another color.
I would love to see what you use it for!