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By Mike Rankin | Thursday, June 28, 2012

InDesign FX: How to create seamless patterns

Unlike Photoshop and Illustrator, InDesign doesn’t allow you to create pattern swatches and use them to fill an area with a seamless pattern. But don’t despair, you can create patterns (even seamless ones) without much hassle in InDesign. The key is to use the Step and Repeat command, as I show in this week’s InDesign FXtutorial.

The first method I show in the video uses Step and Repeat along with Corner Options to transform a single square into a fence to keep some cows from moo-ving where they’re not supposed to.

A square fence-like pattern created in InDesign from one repeating square.

A second example also begins with a humble square, but ends up as a nifty tiled pattern like this one:

Tiled diamond-shape pattern made from one repeated square in InDesign.

I also show how to make the equivalent of a pattern swatch from just about any InDesign object. You start by creating a rectangle and aligining your desired pattern elements along the edges of the rectangle.

Creating a pattern swatch using a rectangle as aplique alignment tool.

Then group the objects and paste them into the rectangle to create what I call a swatch object which you can then Step and Repeat to your heart’s content for a totally seamless, infinitely repeatable pattern.

Blue pattern swatch created using Step and Repeat in InDesign.

For lynda.com members, I also have another new member-exclusive video this week in the lynda.com library called Using Scripts to Create New Shapes. In the video, I show how to use the PathEffects script that comes with InDesign to instantly alter the shapes of objects, and create things that could be incredibly difficult, tedious, or downright impossible to do manually. For example, you can use the script to covert a plain old polygon into a spiky starburst to make a cool effect even cooler.

Regular star, next to a spiky starburst created from a standard polygon in InDesign.

Spiky bling stars on a chrome font created in InDesign.

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!

Interested in more? • The complete InDesign FX course • All InDesign courses on lynda.com • All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

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