Snowflake structures are a wonder of the natural world. Snowflakes are unique in design, and yet have perfect symmetry. The style of these perfect patterns can be easily recreated using Photoshop’s Step and repeat command – a function that enables you to replicate effects applied through the Transform command onto an image layer countless times, creating striking patterns.
Of course, you can use any image you like as the foundation for a pattern, but in this instance we’re going to use a lobster photo. The key is to rotate and repeat the object through 360 degrees to build up the snowflake, getting smaller with each layer.
In this Photoshop tutorial we’re going to look at how to use a combination of selections and the Transform commands to scale and rotate features to build up the image and create the desired pattern.
To add an extra twist to the effect we’ll also invert the colour to create a blue negative effect, use Curves to boost the contrast, and finally add some text.
Duplicate the background with Cmd/Ctrl+J. Use Select>Color Range to select the lobster, then use the Quick Selection tool to select the rest of the lobster. Click Refine Edge; select Smart Radius and a Feather of 0.5. Click OK, invert the selection and hit Delete.
02 Invert the colour
Go to Image>Canvas Size and enter 70x70cm. Create a new layer below the lobster and fill it with black, then select the lobster layer and press Cmd/Ctrl+I. Move the lobster to near the top of the canvas and select the Rectangular Marquee tool.
03 Use step and repeat
Draw a large rectangle around the lobster, then go to Select>Save Selection and give it a name. Use Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+T to start the step and repeat process. Use the cursor to move the central registration point to just below the middle of the bottom line and rotate the selection by 90 degrees. Press Enter twice.
04 Duplicate the pattern
Use Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T to step and repeat to create four lobsters, then duplicate the layer using Cmd/Ctrl+J. Rotate the layer 45 degrees and use Transform to reduce the size, holding down Shift to constrain the proportions. Select the first lobster layer.
05 Finish the snowflake
Load the selection you made earlier, and copy and paste the lobster into a new layer. Move the layer to the top of the Layers Panel. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+T and rotate the lobster 36 degrees, then use step and repeat to create a full circle. Reduce the scale with Free Transform.
06 Add some text
Duplicate the layer, rotate and scale a further four times to finish the snowflake. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and adjust to improve the colours. Select the Text tool and a suitable font, click the canvas then add your text to finish.
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