Washi Pt 2: Creating Seamless Washi Patterns


Welcome back, fellow creatives! In this second part of our Washi series, we will delve deeper into what I feel is the fun part about custom washi… designing the patterns! This blog post is all about learning how to design seamless repeat patterns and we’ll go over three different approaches; A Simple, Horizontal, and Full repeat.

All of the steps below can be done in whichever art program you choose to use. For this tutorial, I’ll be designing in Procreate (which will be seen in my screenshots), however, everything can be repeated without issue in other programs like Photoshop.

Once again, this will be a bit of a doozy… so grab a snack, put on some music, and let's create together!


Getting started: Finding your segment sizes

Before we can get into the drawing aspect of making patterns, we first need to figure out what the base width, or segment size, of our pattern, is going to be. To do this, we need to take into account the repeat length of our washi. 

As a reminder from the last blog, CMYK washi has a repeat length of 350mm while FOIL washi has a repeat of 250mm.

Keeping this number in mind, you can then divide the repeat length by how many segments you want your pattern to be. However, there is one major caveat to this. The width of the segments you divide the repeat length into has to be a whole number.  

The reason for this is that we will need to be able to split the canvas we create into halves that are equal on all sides. If you can ensure that the segment length is an even number that is even better! 

I went ahead and included some of my personal most used increments that I like to split my washi patterns into.


  • 350mm = 1 segment 
  • 70mm = 5 segments
  • 35mm = 10 segments


  • 250mm = 1 segment 
  • 50mm = 5 segments
  • 25mm = 10 segments

Please note that the above segments are for the width. Your height will be dependent on the size of the washi you are looking to make. You will need to take into account the bleed we discussed in our previous blog for each size washi you do. 

As an example, 32mm washi is actually 35mm with bleed. For 32mm washi your segment height would then need to be equal to or greater than 35mm and also a whole number. I like a little bit of wiggle room past the bleed and went with 40mm for the height in the above screenshots.

Before we dive into the process of making the patterns, if you need a little refresher course on washi bleeds pop on over to our first washi blog post:

Understanding the Washi Template



Now that all the math is out of the way, let us dive into the good stuff! In this next section - we’ll go over three different approaches for washi patterns. Buckle up, it’s going to be a ride!

For the sake of this tutorial and consistency, we will be making patterns for 32mm CMYK washi. Feel free to follow along at that size, or make the proper height adjustments for whatever Washi size you are wanting to design for. 

Without further ado…


Simple Repeat:

The simplest of the three we will go over today doesn’t require a bunch of steps. Works great even for full repeat lengths.

1. Create a new canvas in whichever art program you are using. And make sure you set all your properties correctly. The DPI of your canvas absolutely needs to be at 400 DPI as this is a requirement from the factory for printing washi and is non-negotiable. The width must be set to your segment width, this is the most important dimension. Your height can be whatever even number you chose for the tape you are doing. Also, set your canvas color profile to CMYK to ensure more accurate printing for your tape.

For my tape, I went with the following dimensions: 40mm x 70mm, which results in 5 segments across the 350mm washi repeat length.

2. Start creating! For a simple pattern like this, the only thing you need to worry about is leaving space on each horizontal edge so that the pattern can tile without anything getting cut off. This type of pattern tends to work best for more simple art or for repeating things like a logo along a solid background.

3. Once you are done designing, the next step is to go ahead and export your pattern and then toss it onto the template! If you are doing 5 segments like I am, then you would place 5 copies of your pattern, end to end within the template like below.

See? Super easy!  All five segments should fit within the template perfectly. Make sure you do not merge the pattern into the template! 

Pictured below is an example of a full repeat (350mm segment) pattern that I did a while back for one of my washi designs. Sometimes, keeping it simple is all you need!


Horizontal Repeat:

A step up from the previous simple repeat. This type of repeat involves a more dense pattern and will repeat seamlessly along the horizontal axis. 

1. Like the previous pattern style, we are going to go ahead and create a new canvas. We will be using all of the same measurements for this pattern as we did for the previous design. 400 DPI, CMYK, 40mm x 70mm.

2. This time, as you are drawing the start of your pattern, it is alright to draw all the way to the top edge of the canvas, just remember that some of the top is in the bleed and runs the risk of being cut out when the washi is made.

Although the top and bottom edges are fine with art touching them, avoid touching the left and right sides of the canvas. This is very important.


3. Once you are satisfied with the start of your pattern, group all your layers together and stick them into a new group called “main”.  This ‘main’ group will essentially be your source pattern but also your backup so you don’t have to start over from scratch if there is an issue.

With this being a more simple pattern design, I went ahead and added color already, but if you want to wait and keep everything as lineart - that is okay as well!

4. Next, you are going to duplicate the ‘Main’ group twice, and rename the groups ‘Left’ and ‘Right”. After, go ahead and make the ‘Main’ group invisible.

Then, add a new layer to each group and fill them with a different solid color. This new layer in each group is going to act as a fake background to each of the groups and will help accurately split the pattern in the next step. The color you choose doesn’t matter as long as it fills up the entire canvas in each group. In my screenshot below I used green and purple.

5. Turn on snapping in whatever program you are using so that dragging items snaps the edges of the art to the center of the canvas.

First, select your Left group and then drag it to the left until the right edge snaps to the center of your canvas. Next, grab the right. Drag it to the right of the canvas until the left edge also snaps to the center. 

This is why adding the fake background is important. It ensures that we get an even split while we are dragging so that the art cuts off in the same spot on each side.

If you are using Procreate like me, you can turn on magnetics as well to help keep yourself from moving up and down. If using Photoshop, you can hold down the SHIFT key while dragging to do the same.

6. Next, go ahead and delete the fake background layers, merge all like art parts together, and form a New Group. In my screenshot below, I merged all the lineart together, and then all the individual colors with their partner.


7. Get doodling, and fill in the gap we opened up with art!

8.Once you are finished filling in the gap, we can consider this pattern officially done! Or, if you see any other little gaps you want to fill on the left and right edges of the pattern, all you need to do is treat this new group as your new ‘Main’ and repeat steps 4 - 7. You can repeat this as many times as you desire to fill in any empty gaps on the left and right edges of the canvas. 


I was happy with how the above pattern looked and didn’t feel the need to adjust anything further.

All that is left now is to export the pattern like we did before, and slap it into the template! Like before, with this pattern being 70mm wide, we will be lining up 5 copies of the pattern end to end. 

As always, make sure you don’t accidentally merge your tape into the template!


Full Repeat

Feeling good after the last two repeat practices? Roll up your sleeves and let's tackle something a little more complex this time! A full repeat pattern. This means a pattern that seamlessly repeats not only side to side… but up and down too! Don’t worry though, the above pattern isn’t as difficult to create as it may look.

We just need to use all the same things we learned in the previous two pattern examples and apply them to not only the horizontal axis but the vertical axis of the art as well. 

Full repeat patterns like this are super versatile and can be used on numerous products such as pencil cases, tote bags, and more. These are my favorite kind of patterns to make and the ones I use most often as they can be used on so many different products.

1. Once again, we will be making a new canvas. However, this time, I decided that I wanted to break my pattern down into an even smaller segment size so that my canvas was a little more square than rectangular.  For this canvas, I used the following dimensions: 400 DPI, CMYK, 40mm x 35mm.

By making the canvas width 35mm vs 70mm this time, the final washi will have 10 segments vs 5. 

2. You know the drill, start drawing and filling in your canvas. Like the previous two times, we will avoid letting any of the art touches the left and right sides. This time, we also will avoid letting any of the art touch the top or bottom as well.

3. As before, group all the layers together and name the group ‘Main’.  I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to have a backup just in case something goes wrong. There have been many a time when I’ve messed something up while doing my sliding and have had to come back and start over from the main group. Play smart, and save yourself a headache.

4. Like before, we are going to duplicate the ‘Main’ group, and this time we’ll be naming the two new groups ‘Up’ and ‘Down” (hmmmm… I wonder why…). Add a new layer to each with a temporary background color, and then toggle your ‘Main’ group to invisible.

5. With snapping turned on, repeat what we did in the Horizontal repeat tutorial - however, this time we will be dragging the ‘up’ group upwards, and the ‘down’ group downwards. The bottom edge of the ‘Top’ group should snap to the center, and the top edge of the “bottom’ group will as well.

6. Regroup like parts, and repackage into a new group. Go ahead and name this group “Vert.” This is going to be the start of our vertical repeat! Delete the temp backgrounds and group all like parts together.

7. Fill in the gaps with art, making sure to stay away from all of the edges again. Do not let your art touch the left, right, top, or bottom of the canvas.

8. Now that the gap is filled in, we are going to repeat the previous steps! This ‘Vert.’ group will now become your new backup. Duplicate the group twice, renaming the two new groups ‘Left’ and ‘Right’. Add a temporary background color to each, toggle ‘Vert.’ to invisible, and like we did before - drag the left group to the left, and the right to the right! The edges on each should snap to the center!

Once done, merge all like parts together once again into a new group named “horz”. You now have your horizontal repeat!

9. Fill in the empty space with even more art, making sure to not touch the top or bottom edges of the canvas. Seeing a trend yet? We never touch the edges when adding art with a full repeat pattern. Edges = danger zone ( unlike Kenny Loggins, we don’t want to go there). 

If you notice you still have a sizable gap you would like to fill with art near the top and bottom of your canvas, much like my art below, don’t worry! All you have to do is repeat steps 4 - 7 to do another vertical repeat. What this does is then bring that empty space to the center of the canvas so that you can fill it.

Once the space is filled, feel free to start adding color now if you haven’t already done so. Since this was a more complex pattern, I decided to wait and color once I made it to the final pattern group.

10. You are officially done with your full repeat pattern! The pattern will tile seamlessly on all its edges.

You can now export the pattern as before and toss it onto the washi template. This time, however, you will be lining up 10 copies end to end like below. 

And… you know what I am going to say…

“Don’t accidentally merge your tape design into the template!”

OPTIONAL:  If you want to test the repeat of your new pattern or even just make the pattern itself smaller - all you have to do is duplicate your final pattern four times and rename the new groups: Upper Left, Upper Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right.  

You’ll then drag the corner of each group towards its opposite corner until the point snaps to the middle of your canvas.

Your pattern will repeat with no issue along each edge. You can then export this version and it will continue to repeat on all edges.  

We have finally made it to the end of this blog post! Thank you for following along on this pattern journey. I hope this has helped guide you through the process of creating repeats! Although the focus was on washi tape, everything learned above can also be used to develop patterns for other products. Other than sizing, the principals are all the same.

Remember, practice makes perfect and it’s okay to mess up while learning. So keep practicing and you’ll be a pattern-making machine in no time! So go ahead, pick up your tablet pens, or whatever other means you use to illustrate, and let your imagination run wild. I can’t wait to see what you create.

Let's get those Washi patterns rolling!


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