Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a pattern illustration, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(gears grinding) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory If you've heard me speak before, or maybe you've read my book, Vector Basic Training, then you might already know that one of the hardest themes for me to create from, personally, or draw specifically, is horses. I'm not completely sure why, but they've always intimidated me. I've always struggled with pulling it off and doing it really well, so to help push my own comfort zone, if you will, I picked that as the visual theme for this design.
Now, with that said, I'm going to show you how I took elegant shapes, simple patterns and textures, and created a uniquely styled design. So saddle up and let's get started. Because this is a theme that really kind of challenges me, I always like to get great reference, great reference images that I can look at and really study what makes a horse, uniquely a horse. What attributes are apparent in this animal that people can look at it in a graphic form and immediately recognize it as, oh, that's a horse.
It's not so much about being literal. It has to do with capturing the essence of form, the essence of shape, and so this was the reference point that I used and then what I drew from looking at this reference point, was this drawing. Now, it doesn't align with the photograph at all, frankly, but I used it to study how does the neck of the horse go and what does the shape of the head, what could you simplify that down to and then it's also about looking at some of those attributes and deciding what doesn't need to be there and still easily read as a horse.
Well, a horse is unique, in that it has hooves. A lot of animals don't have hooves, but I decided not to put those on my graphic interpretation of a horse. So, this is the hardest part about drawing, specifically if you're creating a graphic, is about thinking through the isolation of shape and form and simplifying it down. It's almost iconography, in a illustrative sense, to do this, but I took a lot of time to figure this out, and one thing I really wanted to capture in this, was motion.
I wanted to capture that essence of a horse, but the motion of a horse, how he moves and carry the viewer's eye through it, by using segmented shapes that kind of run into the neck shape and cascade through it and bring you into a new shape, so that was the element I worked from. This is the reference I worked from. So if you want to try this style after it's all said and done, make sure to one, pick a theme that you really like. In this case, if you don't like, let's say, drawing horses, you might not want to try this for the first time drawing horses.
I'm just kind of challenging myself to see if I can pull it off and I was really surprised, I like how my horse drawing came out. So this is the basis, and then from this, I can just do some simple shape building. So you can see, how on the head here, I can take elements of the head and unite it with pathfinder and then I can take other elements, like this is on the mane, but first, I have his neck, so you can see this was the shape I created to form the neck, to form the legs here, and then I can make a clone of his head now, Command + C, Command + F, and then I can select the neck and the legs, and then I can minus front with pathfinder, and this is the simple kind of shape building that I'm going to do now, and then the next thing I'll do, is I'll select this shape that I've edited, and I'll select the mane and I'm going to clone both of these, Command + C, Command + F, and then I'm going to unite them or intersect them, that is, using the pathfinder and that gives me this shape in his neck right here.
That's what I wanted. I'm also going to select this shape again at the mane and I'm going to Command + C, Command + F, clone it, so it brings it to the front, and then I will also take this shape, Command + C, Command + F, clone it, bring that to the front, select both these shapes, unite 'em like that, select this little element of the mane, and now actually the two shapes I just united are on the very top, above the smaller shape of the mane and then I can trim that off, like that, using minus front of the pathfinder, and then the last thing we're going to do, is we're going to take this shape that makes up the neck and the legs, I'll clone this, Command + C, Command + F, and then I'll select the mane and then we'll trim out what we don't need on that, as well, and now, if you can see, we end up with this extra shape here, so if you go into isolation mode, you can select that and delete it.
So this is how I'll go about building it. I'll also use simple shapes like this, with the circle on the tail, and I'll minus that, to get that shape, and then I'll clone this shape with this other shape underneath, and then I'll trim it, using minus front on pathfinder. Then I can take this back, hindquarters of the horse and I can go ahead and clone this, and select the tail and then trim that off, as well. So this is the methodology I'll use to create my artwork and then, when it's all said and done, I have these nice volume of shapes that are interacting with one another and this is where coloring comes in, and on this style that I'm going to be working on, I want all the shapes to be outlined with a white line, so all of my swatches up here that I've created, have a white outline with a fill color, so on this one it's blue, with a white outline here.
This one is a lighter shade of blue. This is like a teal, green. Then you have a gold, orange and a purple. So all we're going to do now, is we're simply going to start selecting shapes. I'll select let's say, his mane. I'll select this front part of the horse and I'll select the tail here and I'll use eyedropper and I'll just color those elements. Now, one thing I should point out is that, I like to balance my colors as I go forward, meaning, I try to disperse the color throughout a design like this, so not any one area has too much of the same color, and so that's something to keep in mind as you're working in this style.
We'll go ahead and keep coloring this. So I'll color other elements. We'll color this one, this blue. I'll color this part of his head teal and we'll color this purple, and let's see, we'll make this, and we'll do the back hindquarters here, and this we'll do gold. We'll make this teal and this teal, and maybe this tail, teal, as well, and then this one will be purple.
So you can see how fast that goes, but it does work really well, in terms of an aesthetic. I like the fact that it's white lines that are separating it. It's kind of airy, but this looks really well. Now, this is where I'm going to start using patterns to kind of breathe a new characteristic into this design motif. So we're going to cover patterns a little bit here. I'm going to turn patterns on right now and we'll go ahead and turn these layers off.
Now, all a pattern is, is, I'm going to zoom in on this one right here. We're going to create one really quickly. You can see I have all these star elements. If you start with a bounding box, as square, for example, like this, anywhere your design goes off one side, it's going to immediately come on the other side. So all of these white, little flowery shapes, we're just going to go ahead and select these, like this, and once we have 'em all selected, we're going to unite these with the pathfinder by clicking here, and if you go to appearance, this is only a group.
We want to make sure this is a compound shape, so we're going to go ahead and go to Object and pull down to Make, so now it, appearance says it's compound, that's good. We can go back to Layers now. We're going to select this square and select that with both of these selected now, we're going to go to intersect and you can see that it creates a square format and once again though, once we do this, it changes it back to a group, so you'll want to make sure it's compound, again.
So you'll want to go to Object, Compound Path, and Make to turn it into a compound again, and in this case, we'll get rid of the outline, we'll color it white again. Once you have your swatch built to start using, it's really easy. You just drag the swatch and I should point out that the size you make it on your artboard, will be the size it applies when you use it in a fill. So in this case, if I don't want it to be this big within my design, then I would figure out the size, and then I'd size it down before what I'm about to do, but in this case, we'll just going to drag this over and drop it right into our swatches palette and so, what we've done here now, is we have this.
We'll open it up and you can see, we have that in this pattern designer, by just double-clicking it in pattern swatch, it take you into pattern design mode and this is where you can name it. So we'll just name it Beta, like that, and to get back to our work environment, just double-click the background and we're back now, and now I can select any shape, in this case this has a white fill and I can go to the pattern we just created and click this as the fill and it will fill that shape with this pattern.
I should point out at various view sizes, zoom ratios, what you're going to see is these lines show up. Don't worry about that, that's just a preview bug in Illustrator. As long as you built it precisely, those won't show when you go to use them, but at certain zoom ratios, it will show you where these areas are kind of coming together. That's just the way Illustrator is. You just kind of have to get used to it. They've never bothered to refine that or really fix it. So, how do I use these patterns? Well, here's some other repeat patterns I've created that we're going to put to use, and I already have these in our swatches palette here.
All of these are the patterns, these white ones right here, and then I have some gold ones I created too, which is going to make sense coming up. So, let's go ahead and start applying some of these. So, what we're going to do here, is we're going to select, and I'm going to drag out the appearance panel, 'cause this is going to help us. The appearance panel is kind of like layers on steroids. Think of it that way. So if I click on this shape on the head, right here, you can see it says, "Hey, you got a stroke, you got a fill." well right now, we want to sandwich pattern in between this stroke and fill on the same shape without using another element, and so, what we're going to do is go here on the option menu that is, and we're going to go Add New Fill, and so, it will add it above the stroke.
We won't want that, so we want to move it down under the stroke, and then, under here, we can click on the swatch and we're going to pick a pattern, this one, and you can see how it applies that pattern in here, and with this layer still selected for this new fill we added, this is far too big, as I was saying. So what we're going to do is, we're going to double-click now, with this layer selected, on the scale tool here and we're going to bring this up, and we want to make sure, we don't want any of these things to interact with this, only transform the pattern, and then we're going to select the uniform and we're going to change the sizing to 49 and if I click Preview, you can see how it changes the sizing in this fill, over here from the initial to the smaller, and that's what we want.
Now, the next thing I'm going to show you is, you might be thinking, "Well, how do you move a pattern "within the fill of a shape?" Well, it's a little bit un-intuitive, but you're going to use what's called the tilde key, on your keyboard. What you're going to do, is you're going to go ahead and click on the direct selection tool. The tilde key can be found on your keyboard, right under the escape key. You'll hold that down, and then with that tilde key held down, you're just going to hover over the fill area with the pattern, and just drag it, and all it's going to show you, is this bounding box, but it'll allow you to position this pattern exactly where you want it to.
In this case, I want it to be kind of right about there. So that's how you can adjust those pattern fills and that's all we're going to do on this design, is we're just going to select a few more things. So, we'll select this area. We want to actually go to the appearance panel and select Add New Fill and then under this, we'll select the pattern we want. Nope, that's not the pattern, neither is that, neither is that, and this how you can explore.
I didn't actually use all these patterns in my design, by the way. So, the pattern we actually want to use, is the one we created. So, we'll click on that one and then once again, with this layer selected, I'm going to go to pattern fill, 49% will give us the exact dimension in terms of sizing we want. So we'll click that and you can see how it applies that into this area. Once again, I could use the tilde key to finesse and adjust as needed, and we're going to do one more, here. So, we'll go to the back quarters, here, and I'll select his tail and I'll go to the appearance panel option menu, and I'll go Add New Fill.
Then under here, I will pick, that's like a plaid one. I don't want that. Don't want that one, those are just linear lines. These go vertical, don't like dots. Don't want that one, let's see. There we go, I think that's the one I want, and then once again, with that layer selected, I'll go to the scale tool and scale it the exact same way and on this one, once again, if you go to the direct selection tool, hold the tilde key down, you can adjust where this aligns inside that fill of that specific shape.
So, this is the methodology I'll use to do pattern fills on each one of these. Now, one thing I should point out is, as we're creating, as I was creating, that is, I decided, I didn't want everything to be just simply vector pattern. I wanted to get a little more organic with that. So, what I'm going to do here, is I'm going to go ahead and use a couple textures. One, is this kind of cool wood grain texture, and I want to go ahead and just mask this into the front part of the horse, just to get the look and feel I want.
So, that's all I'm going to do here, is simply figure out the scaling of what I want. Then, I can go ahead and let's see, we're going to use a warm grey, so we'll pick this, like this, and then I'm going to multiply it. Obviously, grey on the orange doesn't look that great. So, we'll do that, and we'll go to 50% just to get a nice texturized look. You know, maybe we'll change this.
Maybe we'll make it a brown; ooh, I like that better. Okay, so we'll go with that. So, now that we have that, I'm just going to slide it over a little bit. Right now, this is a fill with a stroke, so what we want to do, is we want to clone this shape. So, I'm going to go Command + C, Command + F, and that clones that shape, and then I'm going to remove this fill by going nothing, so all we have now, is just an outline. Let's go ahead and zoom in, then you can see this better. So we'll do this. Okay, so now, all we have, is we have this outline, and then we have this fill, which we don't need the outline on, underneath.
So aesthetically, it looks the same. Now, we need to clone this top shape, which is the stroke. Once again, Command C + Command F, and that will become our mask, and so that's sittin' on top of everything. So I'll select the mask now, and oh, actually, we better put it back in its correct position, so right about there looks good. So we'll select the shape to use as the mask. Select the texture and then we'll go to Object and we'll go Clipping Mask, Make, and then I'm just going to cut this, select the outline white and Command + B, paste behind, and that kind of nests the hierarchy of those shapes and masks into position and that's how I'll add that.
The next one I'll do, this one is just another cool texture. It's interesting where this texture came from. It's just crackling. It's kind of a like, a crackling texture, like this, and on this one, this is just going to be a dark, dark, blue, so we'll color the fill itself of the texture. That looks good, and I want it darker, so I'm going to multiply it and adjust the opacity to about 70, that looks good. Now that we know that's going to look good in the blue area, we need to do the same thing for the blue in masking it, and getting back to this texture, once again, but first, I'm going to clone this, so, Command + C, Command + F and I'll remove, once again, the fill color and then I'll clone that again, Command + C, Command + F, to create the mask.
Initially, on this texture, I had an old t-shirt and every time my wife did laundry, I told her just to wash this shirt over and over and over and over again, and it was just a square printed on a t-shirt and it created this texture. So basically my wife created the texture and I got really cool, authentic, distressed texture from it, so we're going to mask this now, with this texture and I have mask set up for F1, but you can use the menu, like I showed you previously, and we're going to cut this, and now we'll select the outline of the white, and paste behind, Command + B, to get the final texture in there, and I think that looks really cool.
Now, as much as I love having this design on a white background, and I think it looks great on a white background, I think it works really, really well. Let's go ahead and zoom in just a little bit on this. I think this looks really good on white background. I wanted to also try it on a colored background or specifically, a dark background. So basically, what I did is, I took the exact same theme and I changed white to a gold. Now, this was inspired, this kind of approach of using a gold outline, back in the very early 90's, late 80's.
I was inspired by an artist, by the name of Laurel Burch, and she did all this great artwork. She was really known for her cats, but she used gold and black backgrounds and lots of pattern fills, so she's what inspired me to do this design to begin with. So, I'm using gold here and once again, all these same patterns, I just made gold versions of 'em, and to do that, I can take my original pattern that we created, here, and I could simply go to option menu, and go Duplicate Swatch, then go into the pattern environment and just simply change it from white to gold.
It's that easy, so it's not hard to do that, but I think the end result is very sophisticated and artistic, and so, in the final context, just to show you a example usage of how this could be used, is maybe it's an identity for a restaurant. So, my goal with each of these movies, is to distill a seemingly complex creative process and present it in a way that you can deconstruct it, and utilize what you learn, in your own workflow. So, I really hope you try to create a design of your own, and start using some of these methods.
To learn more about creating specifically, repeat pattern designs in Illustrator, make sure to watch my Drawing Vector Graphics: Patterns course, that goes into infinite detail about how to create a repeat pattern. It's not hard, and if you watch that, you're going to be up and running in no time. As always, thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, remember, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.