How to Add Patterns in GIMP


GIMP includes dozens of patterns you can choose from to create wallpapers, backgrounds, surface textures or object fills. If the stock patterns are not what you need, however, you can design new patterns using GIMP's Patterns tool or create your own patterns from scratch. In addition, you can purchase or download for free GIMP-compatible patterns online.

GIMP's Patterns Tool

  • Click "File," "Create," "Pattern," and then select the type of pattern you want to create. For example, if you want a tile-like truchet pattern, select "3D Truchet" or "Truchet" for a flattened look.

  • Click "OK" to accept GIMP's default pattern settings or customize the pattern using the available options. If you choose the 3D Truchet pattern, for example, you can change the size of the block, tile thickness, background color, or the number of curves within each block.

  • Click "File," "Export," select your username on the Places pane, and then double-click the GIMP Preferences folder. For example, if you run GIMP version 2.8, double-click the folder named ".gimp-2.8."

  • Double-click the "patterns" folder, type a new name for your pattern, change the file extension from ".png" to ".pat," and then click "Export." The ".pat" extension tells GIMP to convert the PNG image to the PAT file format. GIMP sorts pattern names alphabetically. If the first letter of your pattern name begins with a number or the letter "a", it will appear near the top of the list.

  • Click "Export" on the Export Image as Pattern dialog to save your new pattern.

  • Exit and then restart GIMP to make your new pattern available to use. To refresh the pattern listing without restarting GIMP, press "Shift-Crtl-P," right-click any pattern within the Patterns dock, and then click "Refresh Patterns."

Patterns from Existing Images

  • Open the image you want to use as a pattern. For example, you may use patterns you create yourself or download them from the Web. Ready to use patterns from websites like Webtreats ETC, Deviant Art, and Designbeep can be found using the links in Resources. While some sites may have PAT files you can download, they may not be compatible with your version of GIMP. You can, however, use patterns saved as XCF, PSD, JPEG or PNG files.

  • Click "File," "Export," select your username on the Places pane, and then double-click the GIMP Preferences folder.

  • Double-click the "patterns" folder, type a name for your imported pattern, change its file extension to ".pat," and then click "Export."

  • Click "Export" on the Export Image as Pattern dialog to save your work. The pattern will be available for use once you restart GIMP or refresh the patterns list.

Tips & Warnings

  • Edit new patterns you create so that they tile seamlessly. For example, edges, borders, objects or lines within an individual tile should match or align with adjacent tiles. GIMP's Seamless filter can perform some of the work for you. Click "Filters," "Map," and then "Make Seamless." You can apply the Make Seamless tool more than once, if necessary, to improve the tile effect.
  • Information in this article applies to GIMP 2.8. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions of GIMP.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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