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Patterns have been a part of cultures around the globe for centuries. From fashion and branding to interior design and signage, patterns blanket and beautify our world. Designers are often asked to create new patterns from scratch, and although digital tools make the process easier than ever, it can still be a perplexing task.
In this installment of Drawing Vector Graphics, Von Glitschka demystifies the pattern design process, explaining tessellations (mathematical tiles that lie at the heart of patterns) and visiting the various methods of creating new patterns. He shows how to build repeating patterns with Illustrator's pattern tools and pattern brushes, and incorporate patterns into your design. The course also features patterns from some of the industry's most inspiring designers.
If the aesthetic of your pattern design is coming off too flat, then, it's time to infuse it with some dimensional attributes. An easy way to add dimension to a pattern design is by using the appearance panel in Illustrator. So, let's take a look at how that function works. Many of the patterns I've already shown in this course. You've seen me use the transparency palette to select shapes and set their opacity to varying degrees in order to create the illusion of depth, and just to bring a nice aesthetic element to the overall pattern and to add interest and just to make it look better.
Vector patterns can be flat and kind of uninteresting if you're not looking for ways to add some nice depth to it. So I like using transparency and one area that I think makes it easy to control this is the appearance panel so that's what we're going to focus on in this movie but before we do this I want to talk a little bit about the specific design style that I picked to execute this pattern in.
Now once again, it all started in my sketch phase, and this is really where all the creative heavy lifting took place on this design because there is no way to create this. Just kind of noodling it out of thin air without having a defined approach via a refined drawing. And you can see my bounding box in this sketch, it's pretty faint compared to some of the other sketches, but it did distinctly guide my building efforts with my bounding box. And with this such a fluid kind of style here, it was inspired by the etched kind of ornamental pattern you would see on old floss in the old west time.
And I just wanted to create a pattern that was reminiscent of that ecstatic and had that same vibe and flare to it. So that's how I created it. Now, the drawing was easy enough to create. It took a lot of time to draw it, this isn't something that's going to go fast but that's what good design takes. It takes a good investment of time to do it well, so work through it and you'll get there eventually. On the building aspect of it, it assisted in my building but even though it said complex design, I break into more manageable shapes in order to build it more efficiently.
And that speeds up the build time so make sure to go through the exercise file and you can spend a little more time scrutinizing how exactly I built it by breaking it down into simpler shapes. Once I've done that I can combine those shapes to form the complete artwork, and this shows the complete pattern artwork that I will use to create the tiling from, and this is the shape we're going to be tiling. This complete scroll work shape is what we will now repeat using the pattern tool, and obviously our bounding box guided how that repeats going to work.
If we select our artwork, and we clone it and I slide it over and snap it. You can see how the artwork is replicating to the right, and the same principle applies if you go the other way, and you replicate it going off the top. It's a seamless repeat, all because we've taken the time to draw it out and figure out that repeat based off of our bounding box. So, creating patterns from scratch really assist in that process.
Now, once I had my artwork defined according to the bounding box like this. It all came down to creating the actual repeat pattern in the pattern tool. And I'm going to go into that right now and show you how that looks. So we'll double-click the pattern swatch and you can see how this artwork is replicated. If I click on the tile tool, this shows you the pattern and how it's repeating and we know it's going to work because we've figured it out ahead of time by drawing it out first and now we've let the pattern tool replicated to make up the complete repeat pattern and this gives you an idea of how it's going to look.
So what we've done now is created one that's called scroll work green. But we also created another one if we go into the palette here. There's a white swatch right here. This is another pattern swatch and it's the exact same pattern as this but instead of being green, it's white, so if I double click, on, if I double click on that you don't see anything because its white and it only shows a white background. So if I go to key line view you can see its there and once again its named scroll work white.
So we're going to go back to the art board and we're going to go up to this next layer and turn it on. And this is utilizing those two pattern fills I showed you. And now we're going to the appearance panel. And I'm going to break it down for you. So we're going to turn off the layers we don't need. So, right now on this one rectangular shape we have a base color fill of our blue color. Then above that, we've taken the pattern fill of our scroll work green, and we've filled with a secondary fill color with that pattern work.
And on top of that, we've taken our white pattern and filled it but we've also on this, we've set the opacity to 15% so it's very faint. And so, to walk you through this further I'm going to go ahead and recreate this for you so you understand completely how to use the appearance panel to create this type of dimensional illusion in your patterns. So we're going to start off with just a blank canvas here with this rectangle. We're go to the appearance panel.
And on our first fill we're going to select our blue color. So it fills it blue. Now we need to add a secondary fill. Will go to the option panel. Click on add new fill. Adds another fill above it. Defaults to the same fill we used before. In this one we'll select our green square work. You can see how that looks now. So now we have the background color blue with the green. We're going to add another fill so this shape has three fills. And we're going to change that fill to the white scroll work.
But now you see it's aligned with the other scroll work and we don't want that. So we're gong to continue to refine this with this fill layer selected within the appearance panel, we're going to go over to the rotate tool and double-click that. And what we're going to do is we're going to say, don't transform the object, only transform the fill of the pattern. And if I toggle preview, on and off, you can see how it's rotating that fill pattern.
180 degrees, and that's what we want. And we're going to click OK. Once we have that clicked, we can then click on opacity. And then we can punch in what opacity we want. And on this one we want it very faint. At 15 we'll click OK and that's how we create this illusion of depth. If I zoom in on this, you can see how it really brings a nice flare to the overall pattern, to the overall design this way. Now that's great.
Now if I go back to the layers palette. One thing you can do is once you have any type of shape set up in a specific way via the appearance panel, and you like that effect, you like that graphic style you've established, then you can save it. You can just simply drag this element to the graphic styles, pile it like this, let go, and it defines that style as a graphic style. So if we turn off this layer, bring up a new rectangle, click on this, make sure we're on fill.
And if we click our graphics style it will apply all those attributes to that new shape. And so this is an easy way you can create a graphics style and share it within a project with one person to another user, and they can utilize the exact same style, and therefore, you know it matches identically. So, it works nice in that respect. And, because we built from scratch, we also have the capacity To create a standalone pattern tile as shown here.
And this means we can run out textile fabric which I think would be marvelous with this pattern design. So I've only shown you designs combining two pattern swatches to form one unique repeat pattern design. In reality via the appearance panel you could add even more layers of varying pattern fills and other details. So, experiment with your own designs and I'm sure you're going to discover just a whole mess of ways that you can add really cool dimension to your pattern design.
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