Photoshop Tutorial: Simple Scanline Pattern

Need a simple texture to add some extra depth to a photo? This Photoshop tutorial will walk you through creating a scanline pattern, applying it to an image, and then doing some fine tuning.

Tutorial Requirements

This tutorial assumes you have a copy of Adobe Photoshop.

If you do not have Photoshop, there are several free alternatives available, such as The GIMP and Paint.Net. Bear in mind, if you are using an alternative to Photoshop, the menus and options may be slightly different.

Estimated Completion Time: < 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Low

Draw the Pattern

The first thing you need to do, after opening Photoshop of course, is to create the scanline pattern. Go to File > New (or just hit Control/Command and N) to open a new image. This image should be 1px wide by 2px high, with a white background. When you’re done, your window should look like the below. Click ‘OK” to continue.

Create a new image that's1px wide by 2px tall with a white background

Create a new image that's 1px wide by 2px tall with a white background

Now that you’ve created your document, you want to zoom in as close as possible. Go to View > Fit on Screen (or hit Control/Command and 0). You should now be close enough to see the individual pixels. Since this is such a tiny image, there are only two of them.

Next, you’ll need to select the Pencil tool. This will be bundled under the Paintbrush icon. Simply click on the Paintbrush icon and hold down the mouse button for a moment. A flyout menu will open, displaying the other tools nested under the Paintbrush (in Photoshop CS4, which I use, you have the Paintbrush, Pencil, and Color Replacement tools). Click the Pencil to select it.

Select the pencil from Photoshop's flyout menu

Select the pencil from Photoshop's flyout menu

With the pencil selected, ensure that the foreground color is set to black (if it isn’t, hitting the D key will reset it). Click on the bottom of the image, which will fill in half the drawing with black.

Color the bottom pixel black with the pencil

Color the bottom pixel black with the pencil

Define the Pattern in Photoshop

Now that we have our pattern laid out, we need to define it as a pattern in Photoshop. First, select the entire image by hitting Control/Command and A. Next, click Edit > Define Pattern.

Select "Define Pattern" from the drop-down menu

Select "Define Pattern" from the drop-down menu

A popup will open, asking you to give this new pattern a name. Name it something meaningful, such as “Scanline”, and click “OK”

Give your pattern a meaningful name

Give your pattern a meaningful name

Your pattern is now saved and ready to use. Let’s try it out.

Applying the Pattern with Layer Styles

Open an image you’d like to apply the pattern to. I’m going to use a photo of a warehouse I found on Stock.Xchng, because I want to make it look like security camera footage. Once the picture is open, double click on its layer in the Layers palette. If you don’t see the Layers palette, click Windows > Layers (or simply hit F7).

Select the image's layer on the Layers palette

Select the image's layer on the Layers palette

The Layer Style menu will open. Click on”Pattern Overlay” on the left. Change the blend mode to “Multiply” (it defaults to normal), and then find your patten in the “Pattern” drop down. The pattern should load over your image. You can make adjustments to it by changing the settings in the Layer Style menu. Reducing the opacity, for example, will make the black lines slightly transparent (I set my to 60%). Click “OK” when you’re satisfied.

Apply your pattern overlay in the Layer Style menu

Apply your pattern overlay in the Layer Style menu

You can add other effects to enhance the image. In this case, I desaturated the photo and added some noise to make it look more like a security camera shot from some sort of spy movie. Not bad, eh?

The final results of our work

The final results of our work

Conclusion

Using only a few simple steps, we’ve created a custom pattern in Photoshop and applied it to an image.

We covered the following steps:

While this was a simple tutorial, you can use these steps to create other, more complex patterns, as well as apply them the images in different ways. Once you’ve finished these steps, try creating a vertical or diagonal version on your own. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>