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Defining your own custom pattern fills

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Defining your own custom pattern fills

One of the most powerful aspects of Patterns is the ability for you to create your own. In this movie, we are going to explore how to define your own basic patterns, and we'll discuss some strategies for creating more complex ones. In fact, to define a pattern is really easy. It's making sure that the repeat is correct. That takes a little bit more insight. So first let's create a Pattern. I'm going to select this artwork right here, a nice little flower here, and I want to create a Pattern where this flower repeats itself over and over again.

Defining your own custom pattern fills

One of the most powerful aspects of Patterns is the ability for you to create your own. In this movie, we are going to explore how to define your own basic patterns, and we'll discuss some strategies for creating more complex ones. In fact, to define a pattern is really easy. It's making sure that the repeat is correct. That takes a little bit more insight. So first let's create a Pattern. I'm going to select this artwork right here, a nice little flower here, and I want to create a Pattern where this flower repeats itself over and over again.

So with the flower selected, I am simply going to drag it into the Swatches panel. When I do so, Illustrator automatically creates a Pattern. I want to name my pattern, but before I do I'm going to click on the artboard to deselect my artwork, and then I'll double-click on this Swatch and change its name to something like Flower. But now I can click on this rectangle down over here, click on the Flower Pattern, and I'll see that right now that object is filled with flowers. However, all the flowers touch each other. I was hoping that maybe there be some kind of space in between each of the flowers.

Well, let's understand why this happened. You see when I took that piece of art, and I dragged it into the Swatches panel, Illustrator automatically defined a repeat area for my Pattern. It basically created a rectangle at the exact same size of the bounding area of my artwork, and it used that rectangle as the repeat area for the pattern. In fact, if you ever want to really see or breakdown a pattern itself inside of Illustrator, you can take a Pattern Swatch and drag it back out onto the artboard.

Notice now that when I deselect this, and I go into Outline mode by pressing Command+Y or Ctrl+Y, I see that Illustrator created a rectangle. This rectangle, if I select it with my Direct Selection tool, has both a Fill at a Stroke of None. The rule of the game when it comes to working with patterns is that if the back most object of your pattern is a no fill no stroke rectangle, Illustrator will use that rectangle itself to define the repeating area. So I am going to press Command+ Y to go back into Preview mode.

In fact, I'm going to go back to my Regular Selection tool and just delete this artwork right here. If we know that we can define our own bounding areas, or our own repeating area, we could be a little bit more proactive about creating a pattern that does exactly what we want. So I'm at a press D for Default right now to go back to a White Fill and a Black Stroke. I am going to choose my Rectangle tool, and I am going to position my cursor right towards here at the center of the circle. I am going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on my Keyboard, which allows me to draw rectangles out from their center.

I am also going to hold down the Shift key, because I want to create a perfect square. So with those two keys pressed on my keyboard, I am going to click and drag and draw out a rectangle. I am going to make sure that the rectangle is a little bit bigger than my flower, because I want to incorporate some space between each of my flowers when they get repeated. Remember, in order for me to define my own repeat area, I need to use a No Fill, No Stroke rectangle. And I need to make sure that it's at the back of the stacking order of my artwork.

So the first thing I'm going to do is choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back. This sends that rectangle now to the back of the stacking order. Next, I am going to change both the Fill and the Stroke of that rectangle to be set to None. Now I am ready to define my Pattern. I am going to take my Regular Selection tool. I'm going to click and drag to select that artwork, and instead of creating a new pattern, I really just want to update my existing pattern. To do that, I'm going to drag this into the Swatches panel, as I did before, but now I'm going to hold down the Option key on my keyboard and position my cursor on top of my existing swatch that I created earlier.

Notice that when you have the Option key down, a thick black line appears around that swatch. Now I am going to release the mouse, and then I am going to release the Option key. And you can see that the shape now reflects the updated pattern. There is now some space in between the flowers, because I've added that space in my repeat area. So we are starting to get the hang of defining patterns inside of Illustrator. But let's say you want to go a step further. You want to create a little bit more of a complex pattern where, maybe the flowers are somewhat staggered.

You see right now all the flowers repeat in a straight line. Maybe I want to create some kind of a staggered pattern. Well, here we need to think a little bit more about how repeats work. And I'll be honest with you, defining really great and complex repeat patterns is an entire art form in itself. However, in this case, let's explore something just a little bit more complex. I'm going to now deselect any artwork that I have right here, and I am going to click and drag to Marquee Select, just about right over here, so I can select that No Fill and No Stroke rectangle.

I'm going to delete it because I want to create a different one right now. I want to create some kind of a staggered pattern. So let's see how we might do that. I am going to start by selecting the rectangle right here. I'm going to press D for Default. And once again, I'm going to position my cursor in the middle of the circle right here. I'm going to hold down Option+ Shift or Alt+Shift on Windows. This lets me draw out from the center and also a perfect square. But this time, I am going to use just a little bit of a larger repeat area, something like this. I'm now going to choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

But before I change it to be filled with none and have a Stroke of none, I am going to make some changes to my artwork, and I want to be able to see the repeat area when I do that. So I am going to switch to my Selection tool right here, and I'm going to click on this flower to select it. Now like I said before, I want to create some kind of a staggered pattern. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to hold down my Option key. You know when you're using the Selection tool and you hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows, whatever you move actually moves the copy of that object, not the original.

So I want to create a copy of this flower. So I'm going to position my cursor right over the center anchor point. Hold down the Option key and then drag a copy of that flower. And you'll notice that as I get close to the corner of this rectangle, that center to the flower is going to snap to that corner. I can actually see that, you'll notice that my cursor right now, which is filled black changes to white when that happens. So now I am going to release the mouse, and then I am going to release the key on my keyboard. I've now successfully created a copy of the flower, and I've positioned it precisely at the bottom left corner of this rectangle.

Anything that falls within the inside of this rectangle is going to be in my repeat area. Even though artwork does fall outside of it, we don't need to worry about that. But what I'm doing here it does help me position or define my repeat area. I am going to go back to this flower right here, and I am going to perform the same action by holding down the Option key, clicking on the center anchor point and snapping it now to the upper right-hand corner. I'll do the same for the other corners of the rectangle as well. So now I have five flowers.

But as you can see, the way that the repeat is going to happen is that I'm going to get this quarter of the flower right here, this quarter of the flower, this quarter and this quarter, and that will make up a complete flower. More importantly, the flowers will appear in a staggered pattern. Now I am going to go ahead and take this rectangle. I am going to make sure that it's Sent to the Back. I am going to set its Fill and its Stroke to None. And I am now going to select all these elements, and I am going to define a new pattern inside of the Swatches panel.

I'll deselect my artwork and double-click on it to give it a name. Let's call this one Flower Power. Let's see how that looks. I am going to click on this rectangle right here, and I am going to fill it with the Flower Power Pattern. Now I have a Pattern that shows these in somewhat more of a staggered type of fashion. Now you may notice some artifacts here. For example, it looks like there is a seam here. That actually is just an artifact that appears here inside of Illustrator on the screen. On a printout though that will not be visible, so don't worry about it. Now I do want to make one small modification to kind of break up the monotony of this pattern.

Maybe I want to change this center flower to be somewhat different. So I am going to use my Direct Selection tool to select just the flower part itself. I am going to press D for Default. Now it looks just a little bit different than the other flowers. I'm, once again, going to use my Regular Selection tool to select all these elements here, including that repeat area that's in the background. And this time I'm going to Option drag it on top of the Flower Power Swatch that I created earlier to update that pattern. Now we can see how that looks. I've created a little bit more of a complex pattern where the flowers themselves are staggered, and some of the flowers have a different appearance.

As I've said earlier, defining a really great repeat pattern does take some thought. However, the ability to instantly update your Patterns by Option dragging them onto the Swatches in Illustrator makes it easy to quickly make an art change, and see how that appears in the final version of your artwork.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 81262 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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