Twitter opens up a huge opportunity for self-expression, and part of that is undoubtedly visual. While the Twitter interface gives you some basic backgrounds, let’s face it: they’re mostly pretty dull and it’s hard to make a unique splash when hundreds of thousands of other people are using the same elements.

To get noticed not just for your tweets, but also for your style, try creating your own custom background. In this second of a two-part part series, I’ll discuss how to create a tiled (or patterned) background.

In Part 1 of this tutorial, I talked about how to create top-left graphics that used image masks to blend seamlessly into the background. This time, I’ll explore tiled (or patterned) backgrounds. And although this tutorial is crafted for Twitter, you can use the pattern you create here just about anywhere, including your personal blog or your studio website.

A simple, stylish pattern can add polish to your page, and people tend to associate you with the imagery you choose. Coming up with a killer pattern is your goal. Make your pattern moderately large (300-by-300 pixels or more) to help curb the obviousness of the repetition. Avoid gradients because they will not blend from tile to tile. And you’ll want to keep the color and contrast of your pattern in check; after all, people are there to read your tweets, not go blind.


Open Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4 and choose File -> New. Enter a width and height for your pattern; for this example, I’ll choose 400-by-400 at 72 pixels per inch. There is no requirement to construct a square pattern; if you think your concept will work better with a wide or tall pattern, enter a resolution like 600-by-300 or 200-by-800. (Twitter’s only requirement is that the overall image file size be less than 800k.) Click OK to continue.

Create a moderately sized pattern of at least 300-by-300 pixels or larger.

Locate the Layers palette (Window -> Layers) and keep it handy, as you’ll be using it often. The first task is to set the pattern background colour. Choose Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color. Enter a name for the colour layer (i.e., Background Color) and click OK. Now choose a colour from the Color Picker and click OK; a new layer will then appear in the Layers palette.(Remember that you can change your background color at any time by double-clicking the colour layer thumbnail.)

It’s time to add graphic elements to your pattern. Choose Layer -> New -> Layer. You can add anything you want, from text to paint strokes to paths. The only requirement for this tutorial is that your graphic element fits within the document. When you’re happy with this first graphic element, toggle off the visibility of the layer using the eye icon next to it. Repeat this process -- adding a new layer and a new graphic element, and then toggling off the visibility of the layer -- until you have created all the graphic elements for your pattern.