Price: 144 . 47
Pros: Flexible tools to create patterns. Smart Object support boosts options.
Cons: Pricey. Steep learning curve.
SymmetryShop is a plug-in for creating patterns in Photoshop, based on the popular SymmetryWorks 2 plug-in for Illustrator. It’s a niche tools and seems pricey – but if you regularly create patterns for textiles or fashion, it can make a huge difference to your work.
The first version took a lot of time to master, partly because a deep understanding of how pattern aesthetics is necessary – though this is true whether you’re creating patterns with a plug-in or by hand. It was also due to a slightly tricky interface, which hasn’t changed.
Version 2 adds function largely based on the Smart Object feature introduced in Photoshop CS2 – so you’ll need that version to access these. By combining layers into a single Smart Object, you can create patterns in SymmetryShop 2 from multiple layers/images – such as from the flower image and grass brush stroke below.
Building patterns this way gives you a lot more flexibility over how two or more elements combine in a pattern, compared with having to merge layers as you did in version 1.
By using Smart Objects, you can go back and alter the original elements (or ‘seeds’) without having to apply settings all over again. You can also combine symmetry types to create interesting patterns.
Other welcome additions include support for editable text and vector layers – again making altering designs easier and quicker.
Installation is fiddly – you have to manually copy files to your plug-in folder and it crashed a few times during setup. We also saw a few crashes in use.
If you create enough patterns to make the price and time taken to learn the toolset worthwhile, then SymmetryShop is an excellent tool.