Photoshop project: Seamless Background


Have you ever watched an animated movie where the background moves and repeats itself, but you can’t see an obvious place where the repetition starts? That’s because the animators used a seamless background to hide the edge. You can make them in Photoshop!

Before you start: There is a tool in Photoshop to make seamless tiles, but it doesn’t always do a good job. We’re going to use a different method.

We’re going to start with an image of a background. You don’t have to start with a photograph. In fact, it’s actually easier to make a seamless background if you draw it yourself!

We’re also going to make a large image that we can use as a background in movies, but you can use the exact same method to create a background for an animated GIF.

Method 1: the harder but better looking way

  • Find a large image for your background. Try to find something where the left and right edges look somewhat similar. I chose this wallpaper of a forest and lake.
  • The original size of this image is 1920 pixels by 1200 pixels. That’s good. HDTV is 1920×1080, so this is a little taller than we need. That’s not a problem. When we use it in a movie, we’ll just lose a few pixels on the top and/or the bottom.
  • Open the image in Photoshop.
  • From the top menu, choose Filter -> Other -> Offset
  • Offset the horizontal by enough pixels so that the seam is visible in the middle. You don’t need to be exact.
    You can see there’s a lot of work to do- nothing matches! Let’s see how well we can get the edge to blend.
  • Create a new layer. Give it a name that tells you what it does (like “edge patch” or “seam cover.”)
  • Select the clone tool from the toolbar. It looks like a rubber stamp.
  • At the top of the screen, set “Sample:” to either “all layers” or “current and below. Either will work.
  • On your layer you just made, sample areas from one side that will let you cover up the seam. This will take a while. Use a big, soft brush, and don’t be afraid to undo and redo parts as necessary. Remember: it can look totally different from the original image as long as it blends!
    Here’s what my patch layer looks like by itself:And here’s the finished patch:
    Not bad! Most people wouldn’t be able to tell you where the patch is.

Method 2: the easier but worse looking way

  • Find a large image for the background. I’m going to use the same one I used above.
  • Open it in Photoshop
  • Make a new document that’s exactly the same height and exactly twice as wide as your background image. My original image is 1920×1200, so my new image will be 3840×1200.
  • Select the move tool from the toolbar. It’s the first tool.
  • Move a copy of the original image’s background layer onto the new image.
  • Position the copy on the left side of the big image.
  • Make a copy of the image layer. The easiest way is to press command-J (on a PC, Ctrl-J).
  • On the top menu, select Edit -> Transform -> flip horizontal.
  • Move the flipped image to the right side of the big image. You’ll have a really wide mirrored background. It’s pretty easy to see where the seams are, but this method could easily work for a moving background, especially if you use it as one of many moving layers, or if the background is very simple.