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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.
- Establishing the bounding box for your tile
- Drawing your design
- Creating a pattern swatch
- Refining art with the Pattern tool
- Saving your design
- Creating a pattern brush
- Using your pattern in designs
Skill Level Intermediate
With the pattern tool, you can take any piece of vector artwork and turn it into a pattern. That said, it obviously doesn't mean everything will look good if you do that. Design is all about the balance and composition of shape, form, color, etc. In order to facilitate a message, and thus create a beautiful, or compelling design motif. So when it comes to pattern design, the same principles apply, and you want to create appropriate vector assets you can use in your design.
As I stated earlier in the course, drawing out your ideas is a great way to strategize and refine a direction for your art work. And that also applies when using the pattern tool. So let's take a look at a another way you can select appropriate vector art for your repeat pattern. Even on a simplified ornamental design like the one I'm going to show on this movie, drawing can help you and assist you in the creative process. So, for this specific ornament design, I only had to draw 1 4th of the total motif in order to create the rest of the artwork.
So this is my sketch that I drew out here and this is m y base vector art. This is actually what I created the entire motif from and it's all the elements that make that up. Now as I progress from one stage to the next, as I create my designs and illustrations, I'm always art directing myself and trying to make small improvements that will make the final design even stronger. So in this case I decided having a little floating element up here, I don't think that's going to add anything, so I didn't bother fleshing that out.
Once I had these base shapes I could go ahead and create my entire ornament, which is showing here. And so I really like that. Now when I was putting this together, I was thinking, okay, I need to clean up this file so it looks nicer. And then I thought to myself that, you know what? This is how I build when I'm working on a project like this. I'll experiment and on my art board on several layers actually, I might have various iterations of things I'm trying, even though I start off with a drawing I still might experiment and try other things.
So after I had this ornament established, this specific part of the ornament, I brought it down here and I was trying to make a different type of pattern from it wondering if, hey this might look kind of cool if I do this or do that. And so this might turn out to be a pattern I create in the future, but for now we're going to focus on this ornament shape. I also tried other ornaments that I brought in from other projects that I worked in, just to see if I could utilize those to replicate a free floating pattern using the pattern tool.
But I decided instead to go with this drawn out design instead. So I'm going to show you now, how to take your free floating kind of graphics such as this ornament and turn it into a pattern using the pattern tile. And to do that you can do it one or two ways. We can simply drag it to the swatches pallete by dragging over here and dropping it or we can go to Object>Pattern and Make. I prefer dragging to the swatches palette because it's faster but in this case this is going to work just as well so we'll click Make, we are immediately brought in to the pattern tool.
You can see how it's already replicating by its default which is a grid, a square. And in this case, we will go over tile types in the next movie coming up, but for this one I think a better tile type would be hex to row. And the reason why I think that is I feel the overall shape of a hexagon tends to fit with the outer parameter edge shape of our design motif, which is our ornament.
So, were going to click on the tile tool on the top left of the pattern options. This will give us access to adjusting our tile now. And so holding the Option key down, we're going to tile this up to adjust the spacing at the top and click on the sides with the Option key down and adjust the spacing on the sides. Now this is when I tend to zoom out to see how the overall patterns looking. In this case we're going to increase the copy, so it fills the entire background.
And I'm going to turn off the tile edge. I think that's basins. Okay, but we're going to go back in and refine it just a little bit. So, this is where using the tile tool is kind of exploratory. You'll make little tweaks to improve the balance of the negative space and positive space and how the art shapes are interacting. I think overall, this is looking okay. But the balance of those negative and positive, I still think it's too tight on the top and bottom so I'm going to increase that ever so slightly and see what that looks like.
I think that looks better. Let me zoom out and I get a better feel. Okay. Overall I think it's progressing okay and you can see how this specific tile arrangement which is based off of that hexagon is working better with our tile shape. The top and bottom of our motif is kind of angled at the same angle so that works well but we have some empty gaps you can see on the side here. And on the side here and so it's creating a gap in our art.
And I think we can improve upon that. So, before we do let's go ahead and name our tile. We'll name this one Heraldic, kind of heraldry looking, so how about Filigree. Pretty sure that's how you spell it. If not I'm sure somebody's going to correct me. Now to exit out of the pattern tool and go back to the art board and you'll probably do that several times if you're working on a free floating pattern such as this. If you're working on a pattern that's really complex and it has a lot of things weaving in and out of one another, such as the deep six pattern I created in a previous movie with all the sea creatures under the water.
While those kind of designs are better created from scratch, starting with your rough drawing, refining it, and then building it out. You already know how that's going to repeat. This type of repeat pattern is one where we're kind of flying by the seat of our graphic paths and we're floating in a motif and now we're going to adjust it to make it work better. So, we're close, but we're not there yet. So, we're going to exit to the art board by double-clicking the background. And now that we're out here I want to figure out what I can do to this, and as I was thinking about it I think we might be able to pull one of these elements from this kind of pin wheel design I had going here and think I'm going to grab this one.
And what we're going to do is we're just going to go Cmd+C and copy it to the pace board. We're going to deselect and go back into our pattern tool by double clicking our pattern swatch. Now that we're back inside, we're going to Cmd+Z for paste. And you'll see that come in. And we're just going to position this in place. And you'll notice the highlight color is yellow. That's not very ideal, but you can't control it. That's another limitation of the Pattern tool.
It's just whatever it defaults too by whatever. How many layers you have in your file? In this case, the next layer up defaults to yellow, thus, we get stucked with yellow. So what I tend to do is zoom in to make sure, like these negative space are balancing well, in this case, I think this can go to the right a little bit. And that looks pretty good. So, we're going to copy this, we'll clone it, F3 key if you use my keyboard shortcuts from Drawing Vector Graphics.
We're going to use smart guides to snap on this anchor point and I've selected the mirror tool over here. So, we're going to snap on the anchor point and then flip it. So we get a replication on the bottom side. We'll select both shapes now. We're going to clone both shapes and using the mirror tool again we'll click on it in the tool. Box go over here. We're going to snap at this anchor point which is the center point of our motif.
And flip it to the opposite side. So all we're doing is we're kind of filling in these gaps, or filling in most of the gaps, with more art work. But you can see we have an overlapping problem. As I briefly explained in a previous movie, how overlap works is, if you look at the Options pallet, you can see that right now it's overlapping from right to left. So whatever goes off on right, overlaps on left. Whatever is overlapping on bottom will overlap on the top.
So you can toggle those. So if you watch this artwork, I'll toggle it. And you'll see how that changes. So you can pick which side you want to overlap, if you want it to overlap. In this case we want no overlap. I tend to prefer patterns that don't do that. And if I want overlap, I'll work it out in my drawing stage and build it that way intentionally, rather than letting an algorithm do my pattern design for me. So that's just my personal preference. So we're going to go back up to the tile tool and we're going to adjust the side spacing.
So we'll do this, a little too tight there, do a little, that looks good, and we're going to lessen the top, and I think that looks good, too. And I'm going to turn the tile off, so I can see it. And we're not going to leave these colors this way, actually. We have light gold, dark gold. So these will be light gold again, and on the right we go dark, light. So these will be dark, so they're opposite.
And I think that looks pretty good. So, you'll go back and forth from the art board to the pattern tool, make little adjustments. But now that we have this in the pattern tool, it no longer matches the art on our art board. We need to fix that. So we're going to select the new assets we brought in and select a pre-existing asset such as this shape. Once again, we're going to go Cmd+C, copy it to the art board. And now we're going to exit the Pattern tool by double clicking the background.
Now we're back out to our art board. And all we're going to do is paste. So we'll go Cmd+V. And drag it away, just so you can see what you're doing. Select an anchor point as a registration. Click drag until it snaps right onto the existing shape. Deslect the new art assets and toss the existing one. And so now we have a perfect copy of our artwork that was in the pattern tool.
Is now on the artboard and that's a good creative habit you want to get into. Once you have your pattern created, we're going to go ahead and fill it. So I want to show you how to do that really quick. So this is an existing shape with a fill already on it, we want to apply another fill and that's where the Appearance palette comes in. So we'll click on fill, go to Option menu, and go Add New Fill. That will add a secondary fill to the same shape. And we're going to fill that with our pattern.
So that's how you can add your pattern to an existing shape with one fill. This looks good but I think we're going to adjust the size. Make sure, when you go into Size, to adjust your pattern you click off Transform Objects, otherwise, it transforms the whole shape. You don't want that. And, in this case, 70% will probably be good. So, let's toggle it. So, this is what it was, and I think 70 looks good. So, we'll click OK. And that's how the final pattern fill works on this design.
So just remember you'll create all your free-floating vector art on your art board. Then you'll take it into the Pattern tool and arrange it within the pattern definition mode. And in that respect it's kind of like vector inception minus the bath tub. The final results of any pattern design will only be as strong as the artwork you create obviously, so you want to spend time drawing it out and refining it. So, take your time, create great art, then experiment with them using the pattern tool.