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Custom Patterns for Photoshop Pattern Overlay Layer Style and Alpha Letters

For those of you who are familiar with PhotoshopR Layer Styles, you may have already used the Pattern Overlay Layer Style which will place an image or tiled pattern over the top of the contents on the layer to which it is applied. For example, I have created the basic shapes for the letters of the alphabet, which is called an Alpha by the digital scrapbooking community. Each letter shape is solid black on a transparent layer. I could use the Pattern Overlay Layer Style to apply any of the built-in patterns. However, these patterns aren't really good for my project.

My project is a digital scrapbooking Alpha for a Halloween kit. I have decided to make a pumpkin Alpha by using my own pumpkin image as the pattern for the Pattern Overlay Layer Style. Most patterns or images used for a style overlay are small and tiled so that the pattern can be repeated as needed to cover the entire contents of the layer. However for this project, I want to overlay only one image of the pumpkin over the Alpha letters. One way to do this is to use a pumpkin image that is the same dimensions as the 4 x 4 inch Alpha letters and the same resolution of 300 ppi. Now that I have my image for the pattern overlay, my next step is to add this image into the list of patterns available in the Pattern Overlay Layer Style dialog box. We will do this by defining the image as a pattern.

  1. From the Menubar, click Edit, Define Pattern.

  2. In the Pattern Name dialog box, give our pattern a name. When we check the list of patterns, we can see that our pumpkin is now at the end of the list.

    Now we are ready to apply the Pattern Overlay Layer Style to each of the Alpha letters. Open the letters into the workspace.

  3. From the Menubar, click Layer, Layer Style, Pattern Overlay.

  4. The Layer Style dialog box should open ready for the Pattern Overlay. Choose the pumpkin from the drop-down list and the pumpkin should appear over the letter shape. As you can see, only part of the pumpkin is over the letter. The shape of the letter is automatically "cut out" of the pumpkin.

    Note - When applying a pattern overlay, you can use the Move tool to adjust how the overlay image lies on top of the letter shape.

  5. Before you close the Layer Style dialog box, you might want to experiment with a few more styles such as Drop Shadow or Inner Shadow. In the example, I have applied both to the letter along with the pumpkin overlay. Click OK to close the dialog box and apply all the layer styles to the letter.

  6. Finally, I copied the leaves and vines from the original pumpkin image and pasted them on the top of the pumpkin letters and added a drop shadow to this second layer.

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