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Illustrator Tutorial: How to create a Seamless Pattern
Learn a fun and simple method to create unique patterns.
Adobe Illustrator is a great tool to create scalable, seamless patterns. The program uses vectors instead of pixels, so you can change the dimensions of your drawings without affecting their quality.
In the older versions of Illustrator, creating a seamless pattern was a long process. There was not any specific tool to make the task more agile. Luckily, due to the popularity of these designs, Illustrator CC and Illustrator CS6 have incorporated a Pattern tool. Now, the process is straightforward.
In this post, we’ll explain the whole process step by step. If you want to find out how to create a seamless pattern easily, keep reading.
On this article:
Create a new document
The first step is to open Adobe Illustrator. Click on “Create New” to open a new document. The document has to be squared. For this example, we have manually adjusted the width and height to 1000 pixels.
In “Advanced Options,” we have changed the color mode to RGB and the resolution to 300 PPI (pixels per inch).
Once you have finished adjusting the settings, press “Create.”
Import graphics to Illustrator
For this pattern, we are going to import some graphics. The ones that we have chosen for the example are part of this collection. You can also draw them in Illustrator before you start the composition of your pattern.
To browse in your device, go to File > Open.
Select some graphics that you like and press “Open.”
Illustrator could open every graphic in a new project by default. To take them back to your original canvas, reduce their size, copy, and paste. You can just delete the new projects without saving changes.
Place the elements on your canvas
The next thing that you need to do is to place the different elements on your canvas. Think about the canvas as a tile. The pattern will be a seamless collection of tiles.
At least some parts of every element must touch the canvas. Some parts can be outside of the white space. This is what creates the seamless aspect.
Be careful when you place an element outside the borders. Try to put the items in a way they don’t overlap. Let’s explain it with an example: in the pattern, the stem of the green leaves at the bottom of the tile will appear on top. Don’t stress too much about this: in the worst-case scenario, you can modify it later.
Use the Pattern tool
Once you have correctly placed all the elements, it’s time to use the pattern tool. Start by selecting all the items on your canvas.
Press Open> Pattern> Make. You can see the aspect of the dropdown menu on the image above.
When you create a new pattern, two things happen:
- The pattern is automatically added to the Swatches panel.
- You will see a new window with all the pattern options.
In the Pattern Options menu, you can rename your pattern. You can also select the Tyle Type. This property determines the distribution of the tiles in the design. For a seamless pattern, we recommend keeping the Grid distribution.
As you can see, we have made the size of the tile the same as the size of the art (1000 px x 1000 px). The rest of the default settings remain.
Illustrator gives you the option to dim copies. By reducing their opacity, you’ll be able to recognize the original tile. These changes only apply when you are working with the Pattern tool.
When you are using the Pattern tool, you can move the elements within the tile. Use this feature to move overlapping aspects and cover the extra white space.
Once you have finished making changes, select “Done.” You can also finish by pressing “Enter” on your keyboard.
The new pattern is now a swatch.
How to use a pattern swatch
Let’s try the pattern inside a new shape.
Create a rectangle with the Shape tool.
Select your rectangle. Open the Swatches menu in the properties panel. If you can not see the Swatches menu, go to Window > Swatches.
When you press the swatch, Illustrator will fill the shape with your pattern.
To modify the scale of your pattern, press the Right-Click > Transform > Scale.
Add a percentage of variation.
Check “Transform Patterns.”
That’s it! Now you have resized the elements of your pattern.
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