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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.
Now, that we've drawn out our design, I'm going to show you how to go about building your vector artwork to create your final pattern tile. So, let's dive into it. So, you saw draw this design out in analog using tracing paper and a light pad. And, that helped me to compose my design in analog. You can see the drawn design here, which I've scanned in and placed in the illustrator. Just out of curiosity this image is at I believe 600 to 800 DPI.
I usually fluctuate in between those ranges. And, you can see my bounding box here. The first thing I'll do is I'll place it on it's own layer. And, I'll adjust the opacity to 20% because I don't want it to be full strength. I want it to be kind of tinted back and I'll lock the layers, so I don't move it. Another thing I do is that at this point I'll snap my guides to that bounding box I've drawn out so you can see the guides here. But, I manage guides a little different than most people and illustrator guides are considered objects, meaning you can select them with other elements and move them.
I don't really like that behavior, so I manage them by putting them on their own layer. This allows me at any time to toggle them off and on and they won't accidentally get embedded into our content, which is important when you are copying and pasting and it can cause problems. So, now that I have them established, I'm going to turn them off because I already used them to build my base in vector art so you can see that right here. And, I'm going to zoom in just on a few elements here just so you can really see how the base vector are aligns with the underline sketch.
Now, my sketch acts as my road map. And, if you want to know more information about that, then I suggest you check out my original drawing vector graphics course on lynda.com, which goes over how to go from analog to digital precisely and build out your vector shapes with precision and elegance. And so, that's what I use to create the artwork you see here. Now, that's not to say that I don't make changes as I go along. I don't improve it as I'm starting to work through my design.
With this specific design, however, you can see I have my bounding box establish and that's going to be the key for building all of my patters. It's going to enable me to build my pattern, so that I can create a stand alone tile pattern, and it's also going to enable me to create a pattern that's free floating that will work well with Illustrators pattern tool. All of those are going to be demonstrated throughout the course, but for this initial graphic here, I'm going to show you how to use the bounding box and start to kind of beta test how your repeat's going to work.
Once again, any content that flows off the left, so we're going to select those elements here. It's going to come in on the right, so if I just select this entire design, select the bounding box. We're going to go Command+c, Command+f, which is copy and paste in front, or if you have the F key set up F3. Once you have that with smart guides turned on, it will tell you when you are over an anchor point. You will click hold and you'll slide it over holding shift down so it locks at a 90 degree until you get over the other anchor point and it'll snap into place.
When you let go, you can now see how it's going to relate with other elements in your design. And, as you do this, you can see that even though in our sketch stage, it looked okay, we're running into some problems here where elements are going to overlap, and we don't want that. So, that's telling us we're going to have to make some adjustments to our art. And, that's the whole process of kind of art directing yourself as you build. So, our sketch stage got us about 95% there, but we've already determined after we've built our base factor art that we're going to have to make some adjustments to our art.
So, I'm going to turn on another layer now. These are colored blue. And, I just want to make a comparison between this and the layer below it, so I'm going to toggle it on and off, and you can see we've made some art directive changes. The biggest direction, if I turn off this bottom layer, is I decided I didn't want all of my elements to be fused to this one vine. It was just too much going on and it needed to be able to change colors going to balance the overall design.
If I toggle that on and off, you can see how I moved elements so it didn't infuse into that specific vine part of this motif. Now, that I have everything kind of worked out in terms of making those adjustments, your bounding box is going to help you establish the exact repeat of your design. So once again, anything that goes off on the left hand side is going to come in on the right. So, we're going to select those like we've done here. Select the bounding box and go ahead and clone these elements.
And, all I mean by clone is it's copying and pasting those same elements on top of themselves. Once we have those, using the bounding box, we'll slide it over, holding Shift down until it locks with the other corner. Let go, and you can see how it's replicated it in from the right hand side. We'll just repeat that same methodology using any content that goes off the top, select the bounding box, clone that content, select the corner of the bounding box, hold shift down, slide it until it locks, you can see how it says intersect on the bottom right, let go, and the this is the methodology you'll use to create a repeat pattern.
This is how you make sure your art is going to interact with each other on every side it goes off the edge. And so, one element, a couple of elements on the right that we'll need to do will be these. So, we'll go ahead and clone those. We'll slide those over, and you can see how we've now populated our entire repeat. Once you have this established, now you can start working on color, because you know your repeat is going to work.
We forgot to do a few elements here, but you'd use the same methodology to copy up these, and make sure they come in, in at the top. But, like a good cooking show, I have some of these elements prebaked, so this shows how I worked out the colors, And so, these are simple color shapes, just fills no strokes I encourage people not to build with strokes. That's my personal preference. So, all of these are simple shapes with fills. Once you have these done now, this is a stand alone design, and it's free-floating.
Meaning, if I get rid of the background elements, this is just a free-floating shape. The background is a color just to help me figure out my color composition at this point. With this design, I can now take this in to Illustrator using the pattern tool, and I can tile it. Now, I'm going to show you how to do that in another movie. I'm not going to do that right now. But, the whole reason to learn how to build a pattern using a bounding box method is so that you can set up your artwork.
And, you can copy stuff off the edge to create your repeat, and then with the bounding box, you can select that art and in this case, we're going to use path finder. And, we can trim it. So, you can use your art untrimmed and trimmed. This is how we trim it and we just simply run Pathfinder, and we use the bounding box to select our elements and trim the art, until what you end up with is a non-trim piece of artwork.
This is your final tile design, so we're going to go ahead and group it. Now, this isn't where this pattern tile ended. I wanted more dimension to it and a lot of the methods I'm going to show in this course, you'll see them show up in multiple movies because they all interact together. They all work together, so I'm going to show you something that I'll cover in depth in another movie. But, it's important to flesh out in this one, to show you the full context. So, with my final art established, all I've done is I've made a copy of it.
In this case, I colored it just pink, so you could see it on screen. But, that's not the color I want to keep it at. The color that I'm going to change this to is going to be white. So, we'll go ahead and color that white. And then, in this case, I'm going to rotate this 180 degrees, so you can see how I did that there. And, this looks like a convoluted mess right now, but just bear with me. It's going to make sense here in a few seconds. With that selected, we're going to change the opacity.
So, it's just barely opaque at 15%, and I'm going to de-select. And, you can see how its added this really nice subtle texturing almost, but it's not a true real world surface texture. It's a texturing created from the art itself, so Tthat's something we'll cover in more depth later. But, now that we have this final pattern design established, there's all kinds of things we can do with it. We can simply select this tile.
And, you can either go to Object, Pattern, and Make. Or, another even easier way is you can just drag it right into your swatches pallet. And, if we click into there, once again, we'll go over the pattern tool more depth later, but just to give you a sneak peek. You can see how the pattern tool automatically creates the repeat pattern. You can see how it's repeating off the top, left, right, bottom and so forth. So, that's as easy it is to create a pattern.
We're going to go back to the art board right now and what I want to show you is how the pattern fill specifically works. So, we have our shape here. Once we have our pattern tile established, we can just select any shape. You just want to make sure you're on the fill. And, in this case, we're going to go ahead and we're going to color it with our patter swatch here. And, you can see how it fills it with the pattern. That's as easy it is to use a pattern within Adobe Illustrator.
Now, this specific design, I sized the pattern tiling in the relationship of the repeat a little bit, and we'll once again go over that in another movie. So, that's this specific design. You saw me take from rough sketch and thumbnail all the way to the final pattern artwork. And, you'll see me continue to utilize this later in the course. Another pattern, and the reason why I want to show you this one is because there is certain patterns you can just not create without drawing it out first, and this is a good example of that.
This is based off of a tree branches, and it's very organic. I didn't want it to be free-floating. Free-floating meaning there's space around all the elements and nothing ever overlaps or interacts with directly touching with the other elements. In this case, we wanted that. With this, once again, we'll go to transparency and we're going to set the opacity just so we can see it better with our art. I'm going to turn on the base vectors. You'll see, I established the bounding box. I built out the core of this design.
This is all it is. It's just these branches, that's it. But, once we have this established, we can simply, in this case, we're going to go ahead and colorize it brown and we're going to remove the stroke on it. And so, you can see what it looks like with its fill. I'm going to turn on what I'm calling repeated artwork. This is how once again we've determined that going off the top, this is just a replication of that exact shape. Going off to the right is this one and this one.
And, it also goes off the bottom here. And, it will come up a little as shown here. It leaves the top, meaning it's going to peek in here at the bottom. But, this is how you do it without creating a pattern tile. You select your art like this. We'll turn off the repeated stuff. Actually, we're going to keep that on because we need these yellow shapes. These yellow shapes, I'm going to go over later in the course. These are what I call throw away shapes. Once you have this created, this time we'll go up to Object, pull down to Pattern.
Go to make and it immediately takes us into the pattern tool. But, you'll see we have this gap, and it's not repeating correctly because it's basing the tile shape off of the size of our art. The fastest way to adjust or art is to simply click the tile tool up here in the top left of the pattern options palette. And, once you have this, and this is where these throw away shapes are going to come into place, we can pull this down and snap it. You can see how it's telling we're on the anchor point, and that brings in the art from the top.
We'll take this one, pull it over, snap it to this throw away shape, and it brings the pattern in from the right. And, we can select those and toss them, and you can see how it's replicated our pattern. All you have to do at this point is just name it. We'll just call it branches one. And, to exit this mode, you can either click done, which is, if I hide the Pathfinder palette, you can click Done, or the easiest way is just to click anywhere in the background and it exits you back to the desktop.
So, once we're back on the desktop, we're going to go ahead and turn those off, and you can see how I've filled this shape with that same pattern tile, not only brown, but I did a blue one. And, because I built it from scratch, meaning built it from a drawing and figured out my tiling with a bounding box, I also have the option of having a pattern tile. And, I'm going to show you how to use that in more depth later in the course. So, be sure to check out all the exercise files for this course.
They contain several pattern experiments you can try using the Bounding Box principle with. And, those are going to help you to establish this methodology in your own work flow. The more you experiment, though, with creating repeat patterns and using the bounding box methodology, the more you're going to discover and reveal new, fun ways to create interesting designs.
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