How to Add a Pattern or Design to Any Surface in Photoshop

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If you want to add a pattern or design to another image in Photoshop, here’s how to make it adhere to textures and outlines in that image.

Have you ever wanted to add a pattern or design to an image? You will run into several issues if you don’t know how to do this correctly, with the image not blending seamlessly with outlines, textures, and shadows being the most obvious problem.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to add a pattern or graphic to any surface in Photoshop for a truly realistic look. Let’s start.


What you need to add a pattern or design to any surface

You will need two main image files to add a pattern or graphic to a surface. The main image will be your surface file. The secondary image will be the pattern or graphic you want to place on the surface.

The main image file can be of any format, JPEG, TIFF, PSD, etc. For the pattern or design, it is more convenient to use a PNG or transparent file to place on your surface image. If you need a refresher, we explain the differences between PNG files and other image file types.

If you want to follow, you can download the surface image from Pexels and the reason for Unsplash.

Step 1: Prepare the surface file

First, we will desaturate the file and apply the Gaussian blur to the image. Then we will save the image as a PSD file for later use in the next step.

  1. With the surface file loaded in Photoshop, click the lock icon to unlock the Background layer.
  2. Hurry CTRL + you. Change the Saturation at -100 to remove all colors. Then press OKAY. Our file is already black and white, but you need to follow this step if you want to remove the color.
  3. Go to Filtered > fall out > Gaussian blur.
  4. Put it on Ray so it blurs all the texture but leaves all the creases and shadow detail visible. We went with 9.0. Then press OKAY.
  5. Save the file as DSP file and remember the name and location where you saved it. Then close the file.

The file is now prepared for the next step. We show you several ways to open a PSD file without Photoshop.

Step 2: Apply the pattern or design to the surface file

In this step we will add our pattern file to the layer stack and apply it to the surface.

  1. Open the original surface file again (not the PSD file).
  2. Drop and drag the pattern into the layer stack.
  3. Hurry CTRL + J for the Transform and use the handles to place the pattern on the surface file. Then click on the tick or press Walk in.
  4. Go to Filtered > Distort > Move.
  5. Leave all values ​​at default settings as shown. Just press OKAY.
  6. A Choose a move card window will appear. Locate and select the surface PSD file you saved earlier and press Open.
  7. Double-click on the right side of the pattern layer to open the Layer style menu.
  8. On the Underlay cursor in the Merge if section, press Other + left click to split the cursor. Move it until the shadow detail is revealed and it looks like the pattern adheres to the contours of the surface image. Then press OKAY.


This was a simple example of adding a pattern or graphic to a concrete surface. Here is the finished result:

Applying a Pattern or Graphic to Any Surface: A Complex Example

Now let’s apply the same floral pattern to a person’s shirt. The same two main steps apply. We’ll skip the first step of preparing the surface file because it’s exactly the same no matter what file you’re using. But let’s repeat the second step of adding the pattern to the surface because it gets more complex with the textures of a shirt.

Download the sample image from Pexels if you want to follow.

  1. Select the shirt using the Quick selection tool. You don’t have to select the whole shirt, just the area where you want to apply the pattern. You can also use channels to make difficult selections in Photoshop.
  2. To save the selection, go to Select > Save selection.
  3. You can rename it in the Last name field. We went with “Shirt”. Hurry OKAY.
  4. Hurry CTRL + D to deselect the shirt.
  5. Drop and drag your pattern layer into the layer stack.
  6. Hurry CTRL + J for the Transform tool. Place the design where you want it to appear on the shirt. Click on the tick or press Walk in.
  7. Click on the Chains tongue.
  8. Hurry CTRL + left click on the “Shirt” channel to activate the selection.
  9. Click to return to Layers tongue.
  10. Click on the Add a layer mask icon (rectangle with the circle in the middle) in the lower right corner of Photoshop.
  11. Double-click on the right side of the pattern layer to activate the Layer style menu.
  12. On the Underlay cursor in the Merge if section, press Other + left click to split the cursor. Move it until the shadow detail is revealed and it looks like the pattern adheres to the contours of the surface image. Then press OKAY.


With the design applied to the women’s shirt, we are now ready to move on to the next steps and adjust the colors. We will do this by adding a Channel Mixer adjustment layer. The advantage of using adjustment layers is that you can always go back and change the colors since we will be working non-destructively.

  1. To create a Channel mixer setting layer.
  2. Clip to pattern layer: hold down Other and left click between the Channel Mixer layer and your pattern layer.
  3. From Output channel drop-down menu, adjust the sliders for the Red, Greenand Blue channels to get the desired color for the pattern.
  4. Add an empty layer to the top of the layer stack. This step is optional.
  5. Change the Fusion mode at hard light. Note that different blending modes may work better with different images.
  6. Hurry B for the Brush tool. Use the color picker to sample around the areas you want to fill on the shirt. We explain how to use the Brush tool in Photoshop if you need a refresher.


Recoloring the shirt may yield variable results. If recoloring the pixels on the shirt doesn’t work, go back to your pattern layer and readjust the Underlay in the Merge if section. The results might not be exactly what you want, but it’s a quick way to fill in color if coloring with the Brush tool isn’t working.

Here are the changes we made to the Blend If section, the results are much cleaner:

We also show you how to change the color of an object in Photoshop if you want to switch things up.

Add a pattern or design to any surface in Photoshop

We’ve shown how to add a pattern or design to simple and complex surfaces in Photoshop. These techniques will greatly improve your Photoshop capabilities and allow you to add patterns, graphics or even logos to any surface, adhering perfectly to its textures and contours.

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