Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Applying and editing pattern fills, part of Illustrator CC Essential Training (2013).
Creating seamless patterns is a really tedious task in some applications. For instance, if you've ever tried to do this inside of Photoshop you know what an immense headache it can be. But in Adobe Illustrator it's actually pretty simple to create really nice patterns. So in this movie I'm going to show you how to do that. I'm going to start off by selecting a piece of artwork from this section here. And I'm going to copy it to my Clipboard, Cmd or Ctrl+C. And then what we're going to do is, we're going to zoom out a little bit. And I'm going to pan over and I'm going to create a new artboard. So I'm going to grab the Artboard tool. And once I have the Artboard tool selected I'm just going to draw out a new Artboard. It does not matter how big or how small the Artboard is, I just want a clean surface to work on without having to create a new document. And then once I do that, I am then going to switch back to the Selection tool make sure that I click on this artboard to make it active. And then I'm going to paste on that artboard. I am going to then align this to the center, I can just drag this in, something like that and then zoom in.
And we'll scroll over here. Once I have this artwork over there I can resize and then I'm going to create a seamless pattern out of this. But we also want to add some things to it right? That's kind of basic for a pattern. So let's come back over here and grab a couple more pieces of artwork. I'll grab this. Copy. Come over here, click and paste. And then I'll just Option+Drag. If you want to constrain it, hold down the Shift key while you're holding down Option or Alt on the keyboard and then release. Same thing going down, hold down the Option or Alt key, click, drag, hold down Shift to make sure it goes straight. And then once it gets to where you need it to go, let go. And then one more time Option or Alt+Drag, hold down the Shift key to constrain and then when it gets lined up, just let go of the mouse then let go of Option or Alt. And then I'm going to come back over, I'm going to grab two more pieces here. So I'm going to grab something like one of these. Come back over paste, this one's a little big so we're going to resize it a little bit.
And then we're just going to Option or Alt+Drag it across. Something like that. And you can play around with the positioning to get it just right once you have everything in place. One thing I want to point out here is that these are symbols and these symbols can be somewhat tricky when working with patterns. So it's always a good idea just to go ahead an expand those out by going to the object menu, choosing Expand and selecting Object > Fill > Stroke. Hit OK. That turns them into just regular path objects and won't give you any trouble going forward. So I said I was going to grab one more piece, and I will. Let's come back and we'll grab this little pinwheel shape here.
Come back over and we're going to paste this in and I'm going to shrink it up considerably. And then we're just going to move it into these little blank spots here. And I'll just hold down Option or Alt, drag it up, Option or Alt and put it right there. And one more time. Now I have a pretty complex pattern that I'm working with already. And it would be a real pain to create something like this and then have it repeat easily across say, a website background or something like that. And so what I want to do is take this and make it a pattern swatch in Illustrator. So I'm going to select all the artwork on the artboard. Go to the Object menu, select Pattern and choose Make. Once I select that, you see that the tiles are automatically created for me. And yours probably looks something like this actually. So, let me turn off all the things that I've turned on and show you this. I always turn the dim copies to about 30% it makes it easier for me to see my original artwork.
I also turn on Show Swatch Bounds so I can see the full width and height of my swatches as I create them. First thing you want to do is give it a name so in this case I'll call it Flower Pinwheels. And then you can change the Grid Type. Brick by Row, Brick by Column, Hex by Column, Hex by Row. Again this is going to be up to you and what type of pattern you want to create. I think for this particular one, the Brick by Column works nicely, creates a nice little seamless pattern that goes all the way across there. You can resize the tile if you want to, in this case I'm not going to do that but you could if you wanted to.
And you can also choose whether or not you move the tile with the artwork. So if you move the artwork around does the tile move with it or does it just keep the same thing and create a pattern from the moved artwork that you created there. The Copies section, how many copies do you want? So, I start out with five by five. You can go to seven by seven, nine by nine. Again this just refers to how big the actual tile is going to be when you create it. So in this case I think five by five works, okay? Once we are finished here, we hit Done. You will notice that it snaps back out into a regular mode here and my artwork is all there.
I no longer need this artwork though, I can just select and get rid of it. And over here in my Swatches panel you're going to see that new swatch. And by the way, you may have gotten a dialog box when you first created your pattern swatch that warned you that it added a swatch over here to your panel. If you see that dialogue box pop up, it does from time to time, just hit Don't Show Again and hit OK. It's just a good reminder of letting you know where it is. And so you'll notice over here I've got the Flower Pinwheels. If I were to come over here and grab a shape, like a star. I could then draw out the star. And I could apply that pattern to it just by clicking on the pattern and it would apply that. The interesting thing about patterns is that, as you move your artwork, the tile stays put.
It's because it's sort of clipped to the artboard. So, as you move you just have to position your shape until you get it exactly like you want it. And then after the fact, you could then expand the shape's appearance object expand and that would allow you to then move that with the pattern inside of it. So you just have to be aware of that. It's another one of those little quirky things about Illustrator. Now what if I wanted to create a repeatable tile to put on say a website or something like that a background? That's actually pretty easy to do as well. I'm going to delete this and then we'll come over here to the pattern swatch and I'm going to drag it out onto the artboard.
And when I do that, you're going to see it pop up and you're going to see two bounding boxes. The inner bounding box is the one that you're more concerned with. In order to understand how big the tile is you need to bring up the Info panel. So go Window > Info or hit Ctrl+F8 on your keyboard or Cmd+F8 on the Mac. And then what we are going to do, we are going to double click the inter isolation mode and then we are going to select this inner square right here to see how big it is. So it is 412 by 450 round about and so we'll close this up. And I'm going to double-click to exit out and then we're going to create a new artboard. So I'm going to grab the Artboard tool, click and drag. As I drag out, I want to get this to about 412 and if you can't get it just right, that's okay, you can always edit it later.
So here we go, I'll get it close and then I'll come up here and I'll just do it manually. So let's do 412 by 450. There we go. So that's round about the size of the tile that I need. Now all I have to do is delete that artwork there, come over here, grab my rectangle tool, draw out a rectangle, fill it with the pattern. Now, you have a repeatable tile that you could take and say for web and then apply it as a background.
And, how do I know it's repeatable? because I can copy it and paste it, and look what happens when I move it to the top here and line it up. Seamless. Take it over here to the right. Paste and put it right there. And I can take another one. And we'll just move it up. And line it up like this and see as I get close, everything just sort of comes into place. So there we go, we have a nice seamless tile background we could easily repeat anywhere as we save it out as a JPEG and then use that on our website or whatever we need. Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how easy it is to create pattern swatches in Illustrator and hopefully I've got your creative gears turning a little bit. And I hope that you take some time to play around with all these different options and see what kind of crazy, creative patterns that you can come up with.
First, author Justin Seeley explains the basic elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the program's powerful drawing tools. Then he shows how to create documents and liven up a project with color, plus build complex shapes from simple paths and trace bitmap images and line art. The course also explores the benefits of using layers and symbols, and shows how to edit text, draw in perspective, and much more. The final chapter explains how to output your work in several formats and use Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign.
- Understanding vector graphics
- Creating documents for different contexts
- Organizing artwork with rulers, guides, and grids
- Making detailed selections
- Resizing, rotating, and transforming objects
- Creating swatches and color libraries
- Working with fills and strokes
- Using the Shape Builder and Image Trace features
- Drawing and editing paths
- Understanding the difference between point and area type
- Adjusting the appearance of artwork with live effects
- Printing, saving, and exporting artwork