There are multiple ways to create a grid in Photoshop, such as using one temporarily for alignment purposes or to add as a grid pattern to your project. Regardless of what you need to make a grid for, you’re going to learn about it here.

Let’s start things off by creating a temporary grid to use as guidelines for positioning or straightening layers in your project.

How To Make A Temporary Grid In Photoshop

Option 1: Using A Grid Overlay

Grid Overlays are a series of semi-transparent lines you can apply on top of your canvas to help you compose an image or place different elements. Photoshop has several different overlays, including a grid overlay. You can add the grid overlay to your canvas at any point while you work by heading to View > Show > Grid. 

You’ll see that the grid now appears on your document.

If you add an image to your canvas, the grid lines remain as a useful guide on top of the image (and any other elements added).

Because this is just a temporary overlay to help with positioning, you won’t need to worry about the grid showing up in your exported project. It will just sit over your canvas while you work to help you line up the different elements. You can remove the grid lines at any point.

If you want to change the grid’s appearance, head to Edit > Preferences (Win) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac) and select Guides, Grid & Slices

In the window that appears, you can change how your grid looks by editing the color and type of the lines (solid, dotted, dashed) and selecting the gridlines’ spacing and the number of subdivisions.

Option 2: Using A Custom Guide Layout

The other way to add a temporary grid to your project is to create your own custom guide layout. Guide Layouts work similarly to grids in that they sit over your canvas to help guide the placement of elements and composition of your project.

Head to View > Guides > New Guide Layout to create the layout.

This will bring up the New Guide Layout window. 

Here you can edit the number of rows and columns the layout will show and the width between them. For example, let’s create a 3×3 grid and set the space between the lines to equal by leaving the Width and Height sections blank. You can also edit the gutter size by entering a pixel number — I’d prefer no gutter with this Guide Layout, so I’ll set them to 0.

You can also add margins on any side by checking the Margin box and setting the size of your margins.

To save your custom guide layout as a preset and use it again in the future, once you’ve set the various settings, you can click the drop-down arrow next to Preset at the top of the window and select Save Preset.

The Save Preset dialogue box will appear, and here you can set a name and destination folder for your Guide Layout.

Once you click Save, the layout can be found whenever you’d like to use it again by clicking the Preset drop-down arrow and selecting the preset name you’ve just set.

Once you’ve set the Guide Layout settings and saved it (if you wanted to), click OK, and the guide will appear the way you’ve set it on your canvas.

How To Make A Grid Pattern In Photoshop

Rather than a temporary guide or overlay, this permanent pattern will stay on your document after exporting the image. This is useful if you want to create a grid effect over a photo or a pattern for a checkerboard or picnic blanket.

The easiest way to apply a grid pattern is to create a basic square pattern that will show up as a grid when used to fill an element. To do this, you’ll first need to create a New Document with the same dimensions as the square you’ll eventually make to act as the base for your pattern.

To start, head to File > New.

In the window, we’ll set the Width and Height to 100×100 pixels as this is the same measurement we’ll use for our square.

Click Create to create the document. Your canvas will be pretty small, but don’t worry — this is the size we need for the pattern to work correctly.

Now, head to the Shape Tool (U) and make sure the Rectangle Tool is selected.

If you don’t see the rectangle tool, click and hold the Shape Tool and select the Rectangle Tool.

Now, click on the canvas, and a dialogue box will appear.

Set both the Width and Height to 100 pixels. This will make the right-sized square fill the document and form the base of the pattern. Click OK, and the square will appear on your document.

It may not appear symmetrical with the document, so you can move it to fill the document using the Move Tool (V).

Click the square and drag it to fit perfectly in line with the perimeters of the document.

Now, for this example, we will make a simple, transparent grid, with only the square’s stroke (outline) visible. First, make sure your Stroke is visible by setting the color to black, size to 1px, and the stroke type to solid.

Now you’ll want to ensure the fill of your square is set to transparent. You can do this by clicking the fill box and selecting the Transparent icon (the first icon from the left).

The final shape will appear as a plain black outline of a transparent square.

This will act as the base of your pattern. Now, head to Edit > Define Pattern.

The Pattern Name dialogue box will appear. Here, you can type in a name for your new pattern preset.

Once you’ve added the name, click OK, and Photoshop will save the pattern as a new preset. You can test the new pattern by using it to fill a shape. 

As an example, I’ve created an ellipse using the Shape Tool (U).

Make sure the shape is selected in the Layers panel and head to the Fill box in the Options bar.

The Fill settings panel will appear. Click the Pattern icon at the top left to access your saved grid pattern.

Your custom patterns will appear below the various other pattern groups. Click on it to apply it as a fill.

You’ll notice your shape is now filled with a grid pattern.

Now you have a grid pattern you can access from your saved patterns whenever necessary. The process of creating more complex patterns from images is largely the same, although there are some important differences. My guide to creating seamless patterns in Photoshop will prove extra useful in further learning how to customize your patterns.