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How To Create a Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

If you’re a graphic designer and you’re wondering how you can easily create a pattern on Adobe Illustrator, look no further. In this article, we will be providing you with the ultimate step-by-step guide to creating a graphic pattern design.

Adobe Illustrator is a great tool to use for this, and luckily, if you are a beginner or have very little experience with the program, you will be able to follow this tutorial with ease as the steps are very simple. With enough practice, you’ll be on your way to creating even more complex patterns and overall work of art for your next project.

Note that you will be able to make a pattern on Adobe Illustrator with the CS5, CS6, and CC versions of the program. However, as the CS5 version is considered to be out-dated in the design industry, it is recommended that you use either the CS6 or CC version.

In this tutorial, we will provide you the steps of how you can create a pattern on Adobe Illustrator CC. If you are using the CS6 version, the same steps will also apply as the two versions are very similar.

Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1: Create a Pattern Design

To create a pattern, the first thing that you have to do is select the artwork that would like to use to create your pattern. This can be any artwork of choice that you have found or have created yourself.

To do this, you must hover your cursor over to the top of the screen to ‘Object’, then to ‘Pattern’ and then click on ‘Make’.

Create a Pattern Design

Apart from creating a new pattern, you may also choose to edit an already existing pattern. If you already have a pattern made, you can double-click on the pattern you want to use from the pattern swatch.

Alternatively, you can select an object that already contains the pattern you want to use. To do this, you must once again move your cursor over to ‘Object’, then ‘Pattern’, and then click on ‘Edit Pattern’.

Step 2: Modify options in the Pattern Options dialog

Although this step is optional, it is recommended that you provide a new name for the pattern just to prevent you from any confusion. In the case where you already have an existing name for your pattern, you could also choose to modify it. You may do this within the ‘Pattern Options’ dialog.

Furthermore, depending on your own design preferences, you could choose to modify all the other options within the ‘Pattern Options’ dialog. These options include width, height, H spacing, V spacing, overlap, copies, etc.

Modify options in the Pattern Options dialog

Tile-type

Next, you’re going to have to customize the Tile-type. This will allow you the freedom to choose how you want to layout the tiles for your pattern.

When picking your Tile-type, there are 5 options to consider:

  • Grid

By choosing this option, the center of each tile will be horizontally and vertically aligned to the center of all the other tiles adjacent to it.

Adobe Grid

  • Brick by row

By selecting this option, your tiles will appear rectangular in shape. They will be arranged in rows and the center of tiles in each row will be horizontally aligned. In addition, the center of the tiles in alternate columns will be vertically aligned.

Brick by row

  • Brick by column

Similarly, in this option, your tiles will appear rectangular in shape. However, the difference is that they will be arranged in columns. The center of tiles in each column will be vertically aligned while the centers of tiles in the alternate columns will be horizontally aligned.

adobe Brick by column

  • Hex by column

By choosing this option, your tiles will appear hexagonal in shape. They will be arranged in columns and the centers of the tiles within the columns will be vertically aligned. Meanwhile, the centers of the tiles in the alternate columns will be horizontally aligned.

Hex by column adobe

  • Hex by row

Again, by choosing this option, your tiles will appear hexagonal in shape like the latter. However, they will be arranged in rows. The centers of the tiles in the rows will be horizontally aligned while the centers of tiles in the alternate rows will be vertically aligned.

Hex by row adobe

Brick Offset

When considering the brick offset, there are two options that you can choose from:

  • Brick by row

This option refers to how much the center of each tile vertically aligns or is skewed from those of the adjacent rows. This skewness must be looked at in proportion to the leading tile, which can be indicated by the center tile with the blue outline.

Brick by row adobe Brick by row adobe

  • Brick by column

This option refers to how much the center of each tile horizontally aligns or is skewed from those of the adjacent columns. Again, this must be looked at in proportion to the leading tile.

Width / Height

With this option, you are able to specify the overall height and width of the tile. Entering values that are larger than the size of the artwork will allow the size of the tile to grow bigger than the artwork, and this will end up creating empty space between the tiles. However, entering values smaller than the size of the artwork will cause the artwork in adjacent tiles to overlap.

Brick by column adobe Brick by column adobe Brick by column adobe

Size tile to art

By checking this option, this will cause the size of the tile to shrink to the size of the artwork.

Move tile with art

By checking this option, it will allow the tile to move along with the artwork.

H Spacing / V Spacing

This option will determine how much space there are between the adjacent tiles.

Overlap

This option will determine which tile will appear in the front if the adjacent tiles were to overlap.

Overlap tile adobe Overlap adobe

Copies

This option will determine how many rows and columns of the tiles are visible when modifying the pattern.

Copies adobe

Dim copies to

By checking this option, you are able to determine the opacity of the copies of the artwork tile. The larger the percentage you go for, the more opaque the copies will turn out to be. You will also be able to see a preview of it why modifying the pattern.

Show tile edge

By selecting this option, a box will be displayed around the tile in order to indicate its edges.

Show swatch bounds

By selecting this option, your screen will display a unit portion of the pattern that has been repeated to create the pattern.

Step 3: Save or discard changes to the pattern

Right below the control panel, there will be a bar where you choose to either save or discard the changes made to your pattern.

Note that all new patterns created will be stored within the ‘Swatches’ panel. All edited patterns will be updated within the ‘Swatches’ panel as well.

Save or discard changes to the pattern adobe

For a full video tutorial of how you can make a pattern on Adobe Illustrator, feel free to check out the screen recording below:

make a pattern on Adobe Illustrator

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Christiaan

Written by Christiaan

Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world's largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.

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