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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.
Once you have your pattern tile finalized, It's time to learn how to export your pattern out of the Illustrator, and into a rasterized format. Many vendors require you to provide your pattern tile design, in a JPEG, PING or TIF format, in order to print a repeat of your pattern on a product. An easy way to create your own custom fabric, gift wrap, wallpaper or even decals, is by using an online service like spoonflower.com.
So, let me show you how to export your pattern right and rasterize it into a specific format you'll need. So, in the previous movie you saw me working on this floral motif called pollinate. And it all started with my refined sketch here, and I built out my base vector shapes using the bounding box to figure out the repeat, until I ended up with my final pattern tile. And you can see that right here. Once you have a pattern tile established like this pollinate design, the first thing I do before I run it out and create a rasterized image, a pixel based image that is, I need to test it first within Illustrator itself.
And so, I've already gone ahead and dragged this pattern tile into the Switches palate and it's right here, if we go into the pattern tool you can see how it's automatically replicating, and if I turn on the copies to 100%, it gives you a very good indication of how this tiling is going to work, and it looks good, but >> I'm not sure if you can see it but right on the edge where this tile is, there's a faint little hairline, now there is what's called a preview bug in Adobe Illustrator, so if I go to another layer, and we're going to fill this now with this design, we're going to fill it, so you look at it now and it looks good.
But, you'll notice that, there's these little vertical lines running in our design. And inside Illustrator this is a known bug. If I zoom in on one of these areas, at certain zoom ratios. Right now we're at about 955%. It's not showing it, but if I continue to zoom, now we're at 1200%. You can see that white line show up. I zoom in further, we're at 1600%, you can still see it. Now that we're at 2400%, that line is diminishing now, it's almost not there.
If we zoom in more, you can see it again, and if you zoom in all the way, once again it diminishes. But if you go down at certain zoom levels, it'll completely disappear, and so, this can make you kind of nervous because the last thing you want to do, you can also see vertically, it's creating a white line here. Now, this is what's known as a preview bug in Adobe Illustrator and it's specifically in context of using patterns and fills like this because when Adobe's algorithm actually fills out a pattern it's doing it in square coordinates.
And those are the edge of where those square coordinates are, and so It makes me nervous using things like this because I want to make sure it is going to work, I do not want any surprises along the way. So I am going to show you how to properly export a patterned tile design such as this, so that you can create a precise rasterized image, and then I'm going to walk you through, how to beta test it after you've exported out your file. So to export out a rasterized version of pattern tile, you just select your tile art, whatever layer that's on and you will go to file, we'll go down to Export and we'll click on that.
That will bring up a window, and it will ask where you want to save it. In this case we want to save it to the desktop, and we want to pick the format that I recommend is a ping format. I prefer ping over other image formats like JPEG, just because it has better support of transparencies if you want to do that as well. In this case, we're not worrying about transparency but I'm still going to use a ping format. In this case we're going to name our pattern, Pollinate pattern tile.
And we're going to save it to the desktop. So we're going to click Export now. That will bring up another window. And this is where we need to select specific things to ensure that the rasterized version of our pattern tile is going to be precise. The resolution that spoonflower.com uses has their high resolution Is 150 PPI, if you run it out higher than that it means your overall repeat will be larger. So you only want to run it out at 150 PPI.
They literally print the textile with this giant fabric printer, and that's the resolution they run em out at so, your tile size will be based off the size your exporting out of Illustrator. By the way that's important to remember, and the selection you want to choose for your anti-aliasing. This is basically telling Illustrator how you want the artwork to be rasterized. And there's a couple choices here. There's type optimized, so if you have typography in a design that you are restorizing, you want to check that.
In this case, this is art-centric pattern, so we're going to go with are optimize or it's also called super sampling, so with that selected, we want that. We don't want to check inner lace, so leave that uncheck, and for the background color, you can do transparent if you're running out a ping image but in this case, we don't want transparent, we want the background to be white. So we've selected white and those are the only settings you need to worry about. Now to create the actual restore image, you're just going to click okay.
And we're going to do that. Now, what that has done, it's saved a ping image of this tile design to our desktop. And the next phase is we're going to beta test our tiling now. And the way we're going to do that is in Photoshop. So now that I've outputted, my pattern tile from Illustrator, I've opened up that ping file that I exported out of Illustrator into Photoshop and you can see that right here. And, I want to beta test it now and what I mean by beta test is, I want to make sure that those lines that were showing up in a preview bug in Illustrator, alright? Actually going to show up in my final artwork because if they are that's going to be a problem and I want to make sure that the tile I provide to spoon flower is going to work.
So, I just want to show you how I quickly bade a test patterns like this. All of this is going to be temporary, I won't save this file after I do this. This is just purely for the sake of testing it. So the first thing I do is I'll take the zoom tool, and I'll start with the top, and I'll just select a section, and I'll zoom in on it. Then I'll take the pencil tool and add a 1 pixel setting I'll draw a line around just one part of that edge.
You don't have to do the whole edge, just enough that you can see it. Now were' going to go back to fit to screen, and we're going to do the same thing now, but we're going to pick an edge. In this case we're going to do the left edge here, so I'll zoom in on that, and we'll take the pencil tool and we'll draw a one pixel line Going down this side. Now we'll go back out. So now you see we have a line at the top running horizontally and a line the side running vertically.
With this file, we're going to now go to Filter. We're going to go down to other and we're going to go to this, which is called Offset. And we're going to click it. And what Offset does, is it allows you, you want to make sure to have wraparound. So wherever your design, it's almost acting like a virtual bounding box. Where you design goes off on the left will immediately come in on the right so it's kind of nice. It allows you to see how this tile will repeat with itself.
And in this case we put our lines in our design so that we could easily locate where that edge of the pattern will be, in this case you can see this horizontal line here. And that way we can look straight across all the way and see if there's any white gaps showing up. And right now, there is no white gaps. It's working the way it should. Now we can look at the vertical line and we can scan up and down and we can see that it's repeating that way correctly as well. There's no white gaps.
So those lines that we saw inside Adobe Illustrator are just what they are. They're bugs. At least for this design they are. Now, the reason why I say that Is because, sometimes, they do show up in a design because of the limits of rasterizing out of the Illustrator. So, now that we've beta tested this, everything looks good. We're not even going to save it. The pattern is ready to upload to Spoonflower. So we're just going to go ahead and close it.
Once again, we don't need to save it so we're going to say, Don't Save. And we're going to look at another pattern that I exported out of Illustrator, the exact same way I did the pollinate pattern. And now I'm going to beta test this one, in order to see if any lines show up. So, we're going to do the same thing. It's just, because this design has such dark edges. And it's so clear where the repeat's going to happen, it's going to be at the point of these darker browned areas, that we don't need to draw lines. So we can immediately go to Filter and go to Offset and you can see when we do that, that in terms of vertical lines nothing is wrong with our design.
Everything's working. There would be lines showing up here but with our horizontal line, you can see we have a problem. There is a slight hairline showing up in our pattern, and if we printed this using Spoonflower, that would actually show up in the textile. We run out, and we don't want to do that, so we're going to have to fix that, and in this case, for this pattern, if we zoom in in the bottom left hand corner, You can see that it's just a one pixel wide gap going all the way across our design.
Now, you can try to export this out again from Illustrator, but more than likely, you're going to run into the same problem. It's just the limitations of that feature in Illustrator, it's not a Photoshop program, even though it uses some Photoshop elements. So, the way it affects this is just nothing but going in, sampling this area. And just pixel by pixel, just painting in what it should be. So it's just cleaning up the artwork. Now, I'm not going to spend all the time doing this, but you can see how you can clean it up.
And you just do that all the way across. Once you had it clean, then it would work correctly, it would repeat correctly, I would beta test it again. And then it would ready to upload to spoonflower. So those are the limitations of exporting out of Illustrator. Now that I've exported out my pollinate pattern tile and I've beta tested in Photoshop, I'm now going to upload it to spoonflower.com. So i'm in my account right now, were going to go to custom fabric, that's what we are going to use it for.
We'll click that, and all you have to do is just click Choose File, you can see that the dpi is 150. And we'll go to the desktop, we'll select our pattern tile, Pollenade Pattern Tile and click Choose. And we're going to click Upload File, once it uploads, you can see how it automatically populates into their user interface. And from this point, it's all about your preferences, because you've created it from scratch, and you figured out the repeat within Illustrator in the Drawing stage The default setting of basic is all you'll ever need so you don't have to mess with any of those and it comes down to choosing whatever type of fabric you want.
In this case I ran out cotton silk and right now it's set up for a fat quarter which is 21 inches by 18, if you're going to beta test a test swatch you'll want to do the lesser one which is 8 by 8. This shows you that, how it automatically takes your pattern and repeats it into that space and it costs around $5.00. So, that's how you can run out and order your own test swatch of whatever pattern you create. As much as I like vector art, sometimes it's much easier managing my design in a raster format, and the final sizes tend to be smaller and their accessibility is more universal, as well and they work great for services like this.
So, I just encourage you to explore your own patterns and start testing them on various fabrics and you're going to have a lot of fun using services like this with your pattern design.
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