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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.
Whenever I create a repeat pattern design in Illustrator, there are several build habits I adhere to in order to make the whole process easier, and I'd like to share those with you now. Before I jump in to the first build habit I want to point out something regarding this specific pattern tile. So this design is one called hex heads and it's named that primarily because all the head graphics you see here are based off of a hexagon shape.
Now some of you might think, based off of previous movies where I show tiling type, that we might use a hexagon approach to tile this pattern. But we won't need to do that. This is made up of 24 individual pieces of artwork. So I just want to give you a peek at the way this pattern was tiled because it might be a little unexpected and I think it's a good example of how to approach creating patterns and not always thinking its going to work one way when it can work another way just as easily.
So, we're inside the pattern tool and this shows the hex-head pattern, are placed inside the tool. But, you can see like I said in the previous movie, that 98% of the time I use the grid tile method. And once again on this design, I used that default method again. If I click on the tile tool, this is how it repeats. This was really simple to set up. It's obviously kind of set up like a honeycomb that you see in nature actually. It's just a little more funky that that.
So, I just wanted to point that out because it might not be as super obvious what specific tile type I used. And that's how I constructed the repeat on this pattern. Now the first build habit that I want to go over is global colors. Now I've covered global colors in general in the context of illustration proper in the previous course I did for Lynda but it really applies well for working with patterns too. So, this design is called the Hex Head's, and as I look at my overall design, I'd like it but I think the color yellow is too stark.
I want to warm it up a bit, I don't think it has enough magenta in it actually. And if these colors weren't global colors, I'd have to go through this entire design and manually click on each iteration of that yellow color and then change it. And that can take a lot of time especially when I have 24 pieces of art here. But, because it's a global color the change on that is going to be relatively easy. Now I'm going to show you the pattern fill using hex heads, and when you make a global color change, it's going to change the source color and automatically update any pattern using that color.
So, this is how it exists now. So, all we're going to do is, we're going to double click on the yellow in the swatches palette over here. That'll bring up the controls for it. And you'll see right now, I only have 3% magenta and so it's still just yellow pigment. Not a whole lot of other colors going on in it. So, we're going to warm it up a bit. I think bringing it up to like 15. I think that looks a lot better, and we can preview it, and if you watch the pattern fill to the left of this floating palette you'll see how the colors automatically update.
And that's how fast it is to adjust any color throughout all your artwork, if you get in the habit of creating 'em as global colors, and all you do, to create a global color, is you go into the color and you just check this box, called global. Once you have the color set up the way you want, go ahead and click okay. If you look in the colors palette any color that has the tag on the bottom right corner of it, this triangle, that means it's a global color. Lets go to another pattern now.
This is one from a previous movie you saw. It's called Scroll Work. And I love this coloring but I want to do a color shift. I want to do another iteration of this design but I want to change the colors and once again, this is going to be relatively easy because we have the colors made up in this design. You can see it in the color swatches palette right here, this dark blue and so that'll be the first color we're going to edit, and we'll just double click on the dark blue, it'll bring up the window again. You can see it's checked for global.
So that means, all the colors used in this pattern design are set up as global colors. We're going to make a red skew of this specific pattern. And so we're going to adjust our color break in the CMYK to create the red skew. And I think we'll do about 20% black and if I hit Preview, you can see how it automatically changes our color. We don't even have to touch the artwork. The artwork itself isn't even selected. It just automatically does it.
We'll go OK. That's what we want. Now we'll change the green and we'll double click on that and we're going to go to a more rich color of red, so we'll go we'll add some blue to it. Do the 100, 100 for the red. And I think we're going to add a little more black. And if we click preview, you can see how it changes automatically, the global color in our pattern and, we'll go OK, and, that's how easy it is to do a color shift.
A variant of the original color theme on any pattern. If you get in the habit of working with global colors. So global colors makes controlling and editing your color just drop dead simple. So it's a good creative habit to get into. The next good pattern build habit I want to go over, is what I call retaining matching source art. And what this has to do this specific design is an Aloha design kind of your classic tropical Hawaiian type pattern, using the flower from Hawaii, and all the various indigenous plants to pull off this pattern.
And this is my source art. And once again, I'm using a bounding box, as shown here, to figure out how that repeat's going to happen. Everything in pink is the actual artwork that we'll be repeating. What's in blue is just showing how it replicates as it goes off the top and comes in on the bottom or off the right and comes in on the left and so on and so forth. Once we have this established, it's easy to set up our final pattern swatches, I have two variants of this lighter tan, kind of lighter, yellowish-tan and a dark blue.
And with those, I created this pattern fill to create the nice tropical feel for a shirt. But as I was looking at this I realized, I think the colors are exactly what I want, and the transparency settings are just right where I want it. I don't want it to come off too flat, I want some dimension to it but, I feel there's a whole in the pattern, like right here. And you can see it replicated here, and so on and so forth, in this pattern. And I want to adjust that.
So, at this point, what I'm going to do, is go right into the pattern tool. We're going to go into the, this lighter kind of off white, yellowish tan color. And we're going to click into the pattern. And this is probably pretty faint onscreen, so I'm going to zoom in so you can see it a little easier. And I'll turn on the tile edge so you can see how that tiling is working with this artwork and this is the area that is empty in our pattern, so I want to fill that.
So I'm going to clone this leaf shape. So we're just going to go Copy and Paste and you can see I've made a copy of it here. I'm going to go ahead and flip it though. So it's not identical to the other one, and we're going to move it down right into this position and I think I'm going to rotate it too. And I think I'm going to size it just up a little as well so we're making a few adjustments to the art.
And as I zoom out a little bit you can see how that's now replicating in the other areas inside the pattern tool, so I think that's going to work. So we're going to go ahead and double click go ahead and double click the background to exit back to the artboard and you can see now how it's filled in these gaps in our pattern. And that's great, but that artwork only exists inside the pattern tool if I go back to my art board, we don't have that artwork copied out to the art board so it doesn't match what's on our art board, and I think it's a good creative habit to always keep your artwork on your art board matching what's inside the pattern tool.
So we're going to go ahead and double click the background in the pattern tool really quick We're going to select this leaf and we're going to also select any other pre-existing shapes so we'll select this leaf also and we're just going to go Copy to the Past board. Double-click the background to exit back to the art board and we're going to make sure we're on this and we're going to paste, cmd + v. Now that we have that, we'll use this existing shape to register it with our art on the art board.
So we'll just select an anchor point like this one. Drag it over until it snaps to this other shape. Then we can toss that one. So the artwork we have on our artboard now matches what's in the pattern tool, so that's a good creative habit to get into. So in the future, if you want to make updates, you know this art is matching what's in your pattern tool, so it's just a good creative habit to get into. Now, the last creative habit I want to go over has to do with how to align your patterns as you're building 'em, especially, this is going to be very important when creating a complex pattern like the one you see here.
Now, it's always going to assist you, obviously, if you draw out your pattern in analog and you figure out the repeat based off of a bounding box as you see drawn here. Once you have that, you scan it in, place it on its own layer and this is obviously going to serve its purpose for your building efforts. So here, I'm using the bounding box and I'm building out all my artwork. And another good thing to do as you're building is even though you've drawn out this entire bird, you don't have to build it as one single shape.
Break it up into more manageable shapes. So you can see how its legs are made up of just three pieces, a foot, a knee type joint and just the leg itself. So even doing that's going to assist in your creation of this pattern. Once you have all your base vectors built, you can turn it into your final base art to create your pattern with. Everything in black here is the actual repeat pattern we'll take in the pattern tool. >> And we'll populate the pattern repeat from it, it's all associated once again with their bounding box, now to do this, you don't want to eyeball it, you want it to be an exact register, so when you're on the art board using the bounding box, if you look at your pattern design, we're going to zoom out just so you can see the whole pattern design right now.
If you look at everything in black, the furthest point, if you think of a compass, the furthest point east is the spider character. So we're going to replicate that spider, and using the bounding box, we're going to position him where he'd come in on the left, and we're going to color 'em orange. Now that orange spider is going to be a throw away shape. We're going to just use it for no other reason than to register a repeat pattern. The same thing's going to happen with this kind of monstrous eel, and if you select the, your pattern art, it's the furthest point north, and once again, using the bounding box, we're going to replicate 'em, color 'em orange and position 'em where he comes in on the bottom.
So, all it takes to create your repeat pattern is to select your repeat, the black. We're going to select the two throwaway shapes, the spider and this eel. Now, with these selected we can drag 'em to our swatches palette. Deselect the art, double-click on the pattern swatch it creates, and this brings us into the Pattern tool. Let me zoom out just a little so you can see how our art work is here now. But, we need to register it and if we tried to do this manually, it would just be eyeballing it, where we pull this in.
You'd just have to eyeball it, and there's a more precise way and it has to do with using these throw away shapes. So, the first one we're going to do is we're going to use the spider as our first point to register with, so we'll grab the tile tool on the top left of the pattern options. We'll select the tile, and we'll pull it in and we're going to snap it to the furthest point to the right of the spider. It's not its head, it's actually right at the tip of its leg, right there, and we'll let that go.
Then, what we're going to do here, is we're going to select the pattern tool and we're going to pull this up to the very tip of the eel, which is his little spine on top of his back and snap it to that point and then stop. And now if we zoom out, you can see how everything's in register, we can select these two pieces of art that were throw away shapes and they're called throw away shapes because we're going to throw 'em away now. We don't need 'em anymore.
They serve their purpose to help us repeat this pattern. Let me change the contrast so you, okay, there you go. So you can see how the repeat. I like to fill my screen, so I usually keep it at 9 x 9, just so you get a really good idea. So this is a pretty crazy repeat, actually. And you can see that it's almost like a backwards S-shape. So, the funkier you get with the repeat, the harder it is to see how the pattern repeats and that creates the nice illusion of the surface pattern.
So, once you have this created, it's easy then to do a unique pattern fill like this. And if you check out the other movie where I talk about adding dimension, it goes over how I set this up and we even did a color variation of it, like this. Now because I built this pattern from scratch using a bounding box method, I also have the ability to create a stand alone pattern tile like this, which I can use now on fabric, which is great.
So, of course these vector build habits aren't mandatory, it's just how I work. And so, just use your own creative prerogative and find out those things are going to assist you as you create your patterns. That said, I think if you trying using these, you'll begin to understand why I depend on 'em so much and I create my own pattern designs this way.
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