Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Create Your Own Chevron Background in Photoshop CS5

I have a thing for chevron. Its little zig-zag stripes remind me of tiny mountains expanding over a vast, empty plain. Or like a pristine ski slope on a frigid winter's day. Or ice cream cones. Yeah, I think I like ice cream cones the best. ;)

Anyway, it's one of those trends that's been all over the graphics world lately. Thus, I thought it would be an entertaining and beneficial exposition for us to learn how to create our own chevron backgrounds. So, let us embark. [Isn't that one of the coolest words ever? Embark. I like it...]

1. Establish Your Boundaries

Every time I hear anything to do with the word graph, I shutter a bit while part of me dies. Graphing is the unit in Algebra I can never quite wrap my mind around. However, in Photoshop it can be quite delightful, so don't freak out on me yet.

First, make sure your ruler and guidelines are visible [ctrl+r for ruler; ctrl+q for gridlines].

Start off by marking the center of your document. I used an 8.5x11 inch template, so my half way point was 4.25 inches. Click on the vertical ruler and drag your mousey clicker thing [I know, I'm super technical ;)] left --> right across the document until you reach your center point. Let go of the mouse and you will be left with a beautiful, aqua grid line. [Don't worry, you can hide these later.]

Once you have the center marked, place a guideline at each quarter of the page [or if you need it in less mathematical terms like me, mark half of the half]. 

After you have that figured out, mark your horizontal guidelines by clicking and dragging grid lines from the horizontal ruler at the top of your work window. I did mine about 1 inch wide.

2. Select Your Shape

Meet the polygonal selection tool. It will be one of your good friends during this tutorial. [P.S. It's the third one down on the tool bar. You may need to right click it to make sure the polygonal, and not the magnetic or lasso tool is selected].

Basically, we're going to be playing a giant game of dot to dots. You click on the corners [or dots] of what you want to select, and when your done, Photoshop connects them in straight lines for you. It's amazing!

To make your chevron stripe, start by clicking the upper left hand corner of the first box in your grid. Then, click the corner that is diagonally down from it on the lower right hand side. A wonderfully magic little line should connect your two points. Keep clicking the corners in a zig-zag pattern until you get to the last box.

As you can see, on the last box you need to extend your line over the edge of the document. There is a reason for this-- it's how you'll get to the next row.

Click on the edge of your paper next to the first horizontal grid line to get your selection back on the paper. [I just realized that sounded really confusing, so I demonstrated this step in red for y'all. Pictures = much clearer explanations of Photoshop than words, sometimes.] 

Now keep clicking on the corners of the boxes to draw your chevron stripes just like you did before, but backwards! When you get to the last box, just click on your starting point and Photoshop will outline the entire selection for you.

3. Paint!

Now that you have your lovely chevron shape selected, create a new layer [ctrl+shift+n] and use the paint bucket tool to make your stripe a beautiful color of your choosing. [After you paint your stripe, you can press ctrl+d to get rid of the little marching ants around your selection so you can see your fabulous artwork better. Your welcome. :D]

4. Copy, Copy, Copy

Duplicate your stripe layer until you have enough to fill your page. Using the move tool, drag them into the proper positions on your grid.

5. Adjust

Of course, these chevron stripes are a little too wide for my liking. Instead of having to click on a million points during step 2, I start off wider than I like and then squish my design down later.

To do this, first merge all your stripes into one layer.


Then, use the move tool to shrink the layer to the width of half of your document.

Duplicate this layer and move it into the other half of your document. Adjust as necessary.

Now you can take a deep breath, press ctrl+q to hid the gridlines, and admire your beautiful masterpiece.

So there 'ya have it folks. It's your own custom chevron background! Just save it as a .psd file and you can use it for tons of different projects for months, years, and generations to come [we'll see if the fad lasts that long. haha :) I hope it does.] 

Here are some different pieces I created using my original chevron graphic.

My Etsy Shop Banner

Quotes, Quotes, and More Quotes. ;)

The Blog Logo

My Photography Business Cards
As you can see, you'll be able to use your chevron background for lots of cool things. Send me a link! I'd love to see what you make! :D

Enjoy, and happy Photoshopping!



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